Digital Transformation – next step in PLM marketing?

Digital Transformation – next step in PLM marketing?

For the past few decades, PLM passed many stages of development. It was started as a form of configuration management, extended PDM, moving into single source of truth and looks like finding some new roots in modern digital transformation trends.

I wrote about Digital Transformation as an interesting sales buzzword. I quoted Siemens PLM defining the value of digital transformation as following:

Digital transformation is comprehensive, with an enterprise scope. It takes an end-to-end-and-back-again view of product lifecycle, an information loop that connects all the pieces of innovation, quality, and efficiency. Its vision is to gain true intelligence and deliver it to the point of action, where impactful decisions can be made that truly advance the value to the consumer, in a timely and high-quality manner. That means data must be collected in a way that makes it accessible and meaningful, captured at each dimension of the design, engineering, and manufacturing process.

It is nice description, but is behind the that – data is accessible in all stages of design, engineering and manufacturing (lifecycle). Not much different than good ol’ PLM.

Another example from my blog – PLM outside view and digital transformation – a new name for extended enterprise. CIMdata defines Digital Transformation as the next evolutionary steps. However, if you take a look on the slide, you see that CIMdata’s recommendation is just to use new technology to achieve end-to-end connectivity and lifecycle optimization.

I wondered if Digital Transformation is actually bringing a better value proposition for customers or it can be a distracting marketing jargon. Customer testimony is usually a good place to check it because it presents value proposition in a very condense form.

Control Design article – Kuka eliminates data silos with PLM software is heavily using “digital transformation” to explain value Kuka is getting from adopting Teamcenter.

Global digitalization journey is an ongoing attempt to eliminate tribal knowledge. It embarked on a global journey to digitalize. Our previous platforms were siloed. Engineering, project management, planning and manufacturing were siloed within each company.

While Kuka is still on its journey, it still has that lifespan, starting with the proposal and ending with manufacturing. “We wanted proposal, processing, factory simulation, system layout, mechanical design and controls to all use the same PLM system,” said LaMay. “We’re taking that tribalness away. Somebody new’s key processes are all templated. Digitalization brings people up to speed quickly. Having a single source of truth really is valuable.”

“When we think about digitalization, everyone thinks of engineering, but no one thinks of the users. We’re using our Teamcenter Rich Client for customer product processing, simulation and mechanical design. Teamcenter Active Workspace is where the information goes for manufacturing.

I can see a point of tribal knowledge and converting process to digital. But even so, all explanations are the same we’ve seen 10-15 years ago when PLM was presented as a single point of truth. So, what is new? Kuka is using Teamcenter reach client, which is decades old combined with Active Workspace, which is search driven web user interface to crawl data out of Teamcenter database. Good ol’ PLM.

What is my conclusion? Timing is everything. A growing perception in the market that organizational processes must be transformed. To capture tribal knowledge is important. To have clear definition of what items are included in the bill of materials and share it between all people in the organization has a clear value. Otherwise, the data about bill of materials lived on the cork boards. Teamcenter gives this value to Kuka in the example above. Should we call  PLM – digital transformation and sell it to all companies in such way? It is a nice a fresh idea. Especially since digital transformation is getting traction in people’s mind. And that is important. At the same time, cost and complexity of digital transformation is important. It can be a tough call for PLM vendors with business models tuned for large implementation, expensive consulting and implementation services. So, companies can search for a better way to share data in organization and keep everyone on the same BOM. 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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