Will PLM IoT be able to live up to its own hype?

Will PLM IoT be able to live up to its own hype?

IoT is everywhere these days. You may think, there is no way to escape from the transformation and success IoT will bring to industry. And IoT will change the business around us. Recently I was listening to Joe Barkai presenting about IoT and its opportunity at IpX Symposium in Orlando. Here is a short passage from the presentation:

Everything and everyone is becoming interconnected. The Internet of Things is transforming the ways in which new value is being created in practically every business and every workplace in the Industrial IoT, roles must change and rules are meant to be broken. This is where the value is. This is the new opportunity. Internet of Things is transforming business models by taking the quantum leap from companies that make promises about products to companies that promise outcomes; a collaborative and interconnected world in which success hinges on how well you can integrate your organization as part of a complex ecosystem that will align itself around outcomes and innovation.

Tech Cruch article – Keep calm and automate to unlock the opportunity in the vertical Internet of Things suggests a huge opportunity in all industries (including PLM). Read the article and draw you own opinion. Article presents the opportunity of vertical IoT applications. The following picture can give you an idea about the space and opportunity

My favorite passage is the following:

The next 6 -18 months will be critical in our industry.  Can Industrial IoT leverage successes across smart cities, connected homes, and quantified factories to meet these lofty analyst projections?  Will we as an industry fall into the trough of the hype cycle? The sheer inevitability of IoT technologies is without debate but the realization of the opportunity takes collaboration among a myriad of sometimes-competitive stakeholders; practitioners, entrepreneurs, regulators, and investors. We believe that Verticalized IoT startups will play a major role to awaken the enterprise and deliver on the promise of Industrial IoT.

While I was looking for example of vertical PLM application, my attention was caught by Salesforce.com announcement about Salesforce IoT Explorer Edition. According to the article, the idea of IoT explorer is to to help customers make sense of IoT data and put it to work. The following passage describe very possible scenario:

For instance, suppose you owned a wind turbine company (it could happen) and you wanted to get a service notice when the turbine was going to require service. You could create a workflow that triggers that notice when capacity falls below a certain level.

Being Salesforce, it doesn’t just want to deliver this information in a vacuum. It wants to tie that information to other Salesforce products like Salesforce Service Cloud. If the workflow triggers a service call, it would be useful for the service person to have access to the service history and the fact you called earlier in the week about a problem with your wind turbines.

Finally, Salesforce wants to help you get proactive about your service calls. Why wait for your customer to call you when you can predict the future with this tool and know with some degree of certainty when a device is going to need service. You could contact the owner and let them know their doohickey is in danger of breaking and you can sell them a new one. How great would that be?

So, how great it will work for PLM vendors? The first part of this scenario is perfectly fit stories I’ve heard from PLM companies. But then, I realize that the real connection and making sense of IoT could actually happen outside of PLM domain – in downstream applications, connected services, value chain.

It made me think, PLM businesses have a real chance to miss the opportunity IoT brings to do. How so? Here is the thing… Think about manufacturing company. Traditional PLM has an influence on engineering processes and as a result collecting information about products and related service. It is an important set of information. This information is really important for all related IoT services. In an example above, this information is actually will help you to know how often turbine has to go on service. But here is the thing. The information in existing systems is hardly accessible. In most of companies it lives for engineering processes only. To get this data out of PLM infrastructure is hard and to share it downstream and across value chain is almost impossible. I’ve seen many companies that producing one giant spreadsheet of data to get everyone else to access the data.

What is conclusion? The potential of IoT solutions is huge. And we can see how large enterprise players are coming to this “IoT playground” and trying to see what solutions to build. The faster PLM companies will figure out how to unlock data, to share it access value chain, the bigger chances they will be able to realize the potential of IoT and create a monetizing mechanism based on product data. Otherwise, PLM IoT hype will remain a dream and other vendors will come to provide solutions to manufacturing companies. 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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