How to find a good idea? Many people have different answers on this question. My favorite James Altucher – the bestselling author, blogger, and podcaster says you need to come with 1000s bad ideas and train your idea muscle before the good idea will come to you.
The common trend among PLM vendors (and not only) these days is to come and place customer in the middle. The time when enterprise software (PLM included) dictated what users should do are gone in the past. Everyone is customer-driven and user focused.
Jos Voskuil wrote about how to put customer in the middle and developing customer tailored product.
Modern business is about having customer or market involvement in the whole lifecycle of the product. And as products become more and more a combination of hardware and software, it is the software that allows the manufacturer to provide incremental innovation to their products. However, to innovate in a manner that is matching or even exceeding customer demands, information from the outside world needs to travel as fast as possible through an organization.
Techcrunch article How bad decisions making could undermine good innovation also speaks about how customer focus helps not to miss right ideas and future innovation. The article brings well known example about Kodak missing digital transformation:
It’s fair to say that Kodak never fully embraced the digital camera. Instead, it looked at ways it could somehow fit digital into its company world view. Wang points out that computer-based photo editing made its debut around the same time that Kodak invented that modern digital camera. “The first digital photo editing software was introduced in 1988, and the Macintosh computer on which it ran was hinting strongly towards a different kind of future for digital capture and editing,” she said.
But my favorite passage is about how to go beyond technologies and existing tools:
For Wang that means, companies have to look beyond tools and technology. They need to get the technical people who understand the technology to learn how to talk to the non-technical folks in sales, marketing, customer service and other parts of the company that actually touch the customers. She says the problem is that we have these tools and dashboards, but that’s doesn’t tell you everything there is to know without customer contact.
These two things stuck me as something that can provide a turning point for PLM companies thinking about next innovation. Everything seems to be right in this PLM universe – customers, PLM products, architecture and customer specific features. But, at the same time, everything is fundamentally wrong. PLM is still complex. Companies are struggling to implement PLM systems. Consultants are helping to manufacturing companies to organize PLM projects in multi-years roadmaps. It should be something in this PLM universe to become a candidate for the next (wrong) Idea and future change.
Here is the thing… Everyone seems to be speaking about how to sell PLM and provide compelling ideas how to improve PLM products. It is important. I do it as well… What if customers really doesn’t want to buy PLM software? Did you think about it? As much as I can see things, customers aren’t actually looking how to buy a software. Don’t take me wrong – they are looking for software, but they don’t like the idea to pay for software licenses. An average manufacturing companies even large in size will try to find a way not to buy PLM software by using open source, internal development, free licenses, etc.
As much as I can think about it as a very bad idea, the reality is actually different. Customers are demanding the next level of PLM systems development by their ability to delivery polyhedral PLM business models. It can be based on 2 fundamental assumptions – customers are looking for free PLM system and ready to give up their data in a reasonable way to use free software. Intelligent data will be sold to fund software using alternative multi-phased business models. It doesn’t apply for implementation consulting and services, but only for software licenses.
What is my conclusion? Do you think flipping business model is a bad idea? It is very much possible. When Google first suggested to change advertising business model people told them that Google cannot change the most fundamental principles of advertising business. The same in PLM and enterprise software. Everyone believes in sales people selling software or channel business. There is no other way around. What if… there is a better way. Time will show. This is 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.