Salesforce AppExchange® is one of the world’s most-popular marketplace for business app. In my previous articles, I was talking about a potential opportunity to develop PLM products on top of Salesforce.com platform. Check my articles – Does Salesforce.com ready for PLM?; Salesforce.com platform and cloud PLM differentiators; Why Salesforce.com is a good platform for PLM… or maybe not? If you have a strong opinion about Salesforce.com and PLM, please share in comments.
But, here is the thing – some people are getting excited by bringing PLM to Salesforce.com platform. Propel PLM is clearly one of them. I had a chance to see a demo of PropelPLM during PI OC event several weeks ago in California. In a nutshell, PropelPLM is Salesforce.com platform combined with data model and features tuned to PLM business workflows. From a value proposition, Propel is selling one of the greatest values of Salesforce.com platform – connection to users. Take a look on the following picture I captured in one of Propel’s presentations.
Here is a second example – Arena Solutions. Few days ago my attention was caught by news coming from Arena Solutions and Rootstock ERP. You can read it here. Press release speaks about integration between Arena and Rootstock into a single solution.
Rootstock solutions run exclusively on the Salesforce Platform (Force.com®) and are available through the Salesforce AppExchange® the world’s most-popular marketplace for business apps. The company offers the On Demand ERP solution for all sizes and types, whether they are small organizations with ten users, or large operations with several sites and hundreds of users. “With this partnership, customers with complex products and a high rate of change can now unite the product development and quality processes managed by Arena with the rich ERP capabilities of Rootstock, and it’s all 100 percent in the cloud,” said Rootstock CEO Patrick Garrehy.
These two systems (Rootstock and Arena) is a very interesting combination. Arena pioneered cloud-PLM from 1999 (well, it wasn’t called cloud back those days) and Rootstock is fully based on Salesforce.com. I wonder how these two products are integrated. Press release doesn’t provide much information. However, the following passage by Steve Chalgren of Arena can give you a hint.
“IT management increasingly wants to move applications into the cloud, and both Arena and Rootstock alike provide powerful cloud-based solutions that are simple to deploy and easy to scale,” said Steve Chalgren, Executive Vice President Product Management & Chief Strategy Officer at Arena. “This integration takes full advantage of the cloud to provide a single solution for PLM and ERP.”
So, the idea of “single PLM+ERP” system isn’t new. SAP and Oracle are doing it for years. However, it is interesting how both Propel and Arena/Rootstock are emphasizing the importance of easy to scale cloud platform (my hunch it is Salesforce.com in both cases). Which clearly an indication of scaled cloud Salesforce.com as a strong value proposition for potential customers.
Even, it is hard to ignore the importance of cloud technology provided by Salesforce.com, I can bet it might be not a key value of these examples. What if Salesforce channel is even more important factor behind the interest of companies to invest into the development of Force.com based PLM. Reaching to customers is a key and Salesforce might be an opportunity to grab in a very competitive PLM market.
What is my conclusion? Channel is one of the most important components to deliver “PLM for everyone”. I can see an increased interest “to crack” Salesforce.com as a platform and most importantly business channel for cloud PLM. The key question to me is to understand how many companies approacheable via Salesforce.com channel are actively looking for PLM solution? If the number is significant, it can be a big deal for PLM business development. However, if an interest of Propel and Arena is mostly around technology, then I will have more questions to them. Salesforce is disconnected from engineering. How Salesforce based PLM vendors will bridge a gap between engineering information and Salesforce.com platform. It was a weak point for many ERP vendors as well as cloud-PLM providers. Just my thoughts…
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Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of openBoM developing cloud based bill of materials and inventory management tool for manufacturing companies, hardware startups and supply chain. My opinion can be unintentionally biased