Why PLM vendors need to think about cloud data collaboration now?

Why PLM vendors need to think about cloud data collaboration now?

To integrate PLM with other islands of information in manufacturing company, downstream applications and value chain is a big deal. Every single PLM implementation I was involved into requires integration. From very simple (just to bring this spreadsheet into PLM) and up to very sophisticated ones integrating PLM with ERP, MES and other enterprise systems, it was always a challenge and never simple tasks.

In the old days of on premise PLM software, vendors hired service partners to deal with integration work and do some SQL magic to massage data and bring it in and out. This is not an option any more. As companies are moving to the cloud, integration with on premise and SaaS software is now #1 concern of all companies thinking about implementation of cloud software. Check my earlier article  – 3 things I learned from CIMdata cloud PLM research.

My attention was caught by a significant event in cloud eco-system- Salesforce aquired Mules-soft for whooping $6.5B dollars.

If you never heard about MuleSoft, this is how it is described in acquisition press release here.

MuleSoft provides one of the world’s leading platforms for building application networks that connect enterprise apps, data and devices, across any cloud and on-premise. MuleSoft will power the new Salesforce Integration Cloud, which will enable all enterprises to surface any data—regardless of where it resides—to drive deep and intelligent customer experiences throughout a personalized 1:1 journey. More than 1,200 customers, including Coca-Cola, Barclays, Unilever and Mount Sinai, rely on MuleSoft to change and innovate faster, deliver differentiated customer experiences and increase operational efficiency

But I found the following TechGenix article with some interesting details – Salesforce’s $6.5B acquisition of MuleSoft and what it means for the cloud eco-system. Read the article and draw your conclusions. My favorite part of the article is about integration of enterprise data. It comes down to the following 4 reasons: Improve collaboration, modernize applications, make data more valuable and provide 360 degree view of customers.

My favorite parts are about value of data for collaboration and gleaning insight from data in a company.

In today’s connected world, data is what powers modern cloud-native applications. The amount of data available to an organization and its ability to glean insight from its data is what separates any company from its competition. That said, here are some of the key benefits of data integration.

Improve collaboration: In a large enterprise, there are many SaaS applications being used. Sales teams use Salesforce CRM, marketing may use Marketo, IT may use ServiceNow, and HR may use Workday. These teams rely on each other to perform their roles effectively. Since their workflows are integrated, it only makes sense that the applications they use should likewise be integrated. This is where MuleSoft enters and makes collaboration possible across teams.

MuleSoft – Salesforce deal made me think about collaboration and data integration related to PLM software. From the standpoint of integration most of existing PLM products are dinosaurs with very limited integration capabilities. Most of PLM vendors just started to consider REST API and Web API as an important element of integration infrastructure. SQL and old fashion integration tools are serving most of PLM implementations. What is widely used is Excel export function to bring PLM data outside of engineering and integrated with rest of downstream and upstream processes. And this is very inefficient. Growing cloud eco-system can create an isolation for PLM tools and lock them in engineering organization to keep managing CAD data.

What is my conclusion? PLM vendors should figure out a strategy to make data available outside of engineering domain and integrate with growing enterprise cloud application eco-system. To rely on old fashion Excel is not an option anymore and manufacturing companies slowly but surely started to understand it. Expanding existing PLM systems with collaborative layer to share information in enterprise organization will make PLM data valuable and increase chances of PLM applications to get involved into new growing ecosystem of tools for digital transformation. 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.

Picture credit – http://techgenix.com/salesforce-mulesoft/


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