3 roadblocks for PLM digital transformation

3 roadblocks for PLM digital transformation

One of the fancy modern industry words today is digital transformation. If you haven’t heard about it, you probably lived under the rock for the last decade. Because lot of our activities were transformed during that time. Just 10 years ago, we had no iPhone, many of existing web sites and services weren’t available, Facebook was just at the beginning, people made pictures by photo cameras and uploaded it manually to websites. We used to have cable and Netflix just introduced their first streaming service, etc.

The transformation touched many industries. Here is the example of digital photography transformation:

Digital transformation is not only about making information digitally available, but also transforming the process around it. Think about last 20 years of driving user experience transformation. 10-15 years ago, we’ve been printing driving directions and used it in our cars. Even navigation was available, to use navigation to predict traffic was a very rare function.

My attention was caught by Raconteur article How digital is transforming product lifecycle management. Check this out – I found article interesting. The article speaks about an increased role of PLM and data for transformation of product development and manufacturing organizations.

PLM is increasingly the lifeblood of many forward-looking businesses. “Managing the life cycle of a product is crucial, but doing so is getting harder as products become more complex, portfolios get larger and time-to-market pressures increase,” explains Tim Burks, US PLM leader at PwC.

“The discipline is growing out of its traditional role as an engineering system and is increasingly recognised as a key piece of a company’s infrastructure, and where the crown jewels are held, their intellectual property.”

However, the following passage is the most important one in my view.

If PLM is the lifeblood of innovation, then data is the lifeblood of PLM. Increasingly, corporations are processing vast amounts of information throughout a product’s life cycle. Data can be a digital gold mine, offering insights and sparking the creation of fresh products. It can also be used to optimise manufacturing, as well as enable factories to be adapted for new business opportunities. However, data analytics has had limited impact on the end-user, the consumer, until now. “Companies are starting to turn PLM data into meaningful insights and potential new revenue streams, as well as change how corporations connect with customers,” says Ramprasad Srinivasan, UK technical PLM expert at PwC.

Although I really like to idea of PLM trending on top of digital transformation wave, comparing digital transformation in other industries and what happens with PLM made me think about few roadblocks PLM companies are going to face on their way to PLM digital experience. Here is my top 3 roadblock:

1. Although product data is a gold mine, it is very fragmented between organization departments and organizations, such as OEM, contractors and suppliers. While people are speaking and getting excited about digital transformation, to get data out of legacy data sources and systems can be a tough job.

2. Most of PLM technologies are single tenant and use data as it required by a single organization. At the same time, the real data goldmine is related to the opportunity to bring data together from multiple disparate data sources, enterprise systems, legacy storage, contractor, suppliers and others.

3. ROI is a big deal for most of manufacturing companies. To start digital transformation projects and plan for return in 15 years, can be not so good idea. Selling digital transformation can be a problem unless PLM vendors will learn how to sell it small chunks with clear and justified ROI.

What is my conclusion? There are lot of opportunities behind so called “digital transformation”. However, to pull it off with a clear value proposition, timeline and technological readiness can be a complex task for PLM vendors. To find new technologies that can facilitate this process without breaking existing PDM/PLM infrastructure can be an opportunity for PLM vendors as well as for newcomers in digital PLM domain. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Want to learn more about PLM? Check out my new PLM Book website.

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.


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