Enterprise of Things and why ERP and cloud infrastructure vendors will come after PLM data?

Enterprise of Things and why ERP and cloud infrastructure vendors will come after PLM data?

Back two decades ago, CAD and PLM vendors were competing with ERP for attention of corner suite owners – CIOs and CEOs. It was always some kind of apologetic tone coming from PLM sales people complaining about how hard to “compete” with ERP importance at CIO office. Tons of articles are written about PLM vs ERP and importance of PLM for innovation, product data, etc.

PLM vendors were trying to play catch up with ERP software long enough following “integration” pattern. It had some success, but the status quo of most of manufacturing companies didn’t change much for the last 10-15 years. ERP is a  dominant data management environment. PLM is still playing catch up.

PLM v ERP data tango. The idea of data extraction from both PLM and ERP  and playing search, data analytics, intelligence is another notable innovation we’ve seen for the last decade. With an increased computational power and decreasing cost of storage, these solutions are becoming popular.

And here it is coming.. new bright future of IoT. Everything is changing. Now we have “things”. These things are magically managed and connected to product data and can “upgrade” PLM from engineering office directly to meetings at corner suites with CIO, CEOs and other key execs.

My attention was caught by Network World article  – Most Enterprise of Things initiatives are a waste of money. Author is making an interesting point about importance of data and interest of current players in enterprise companies to own it. Here is a key passage in my view:

The true long-term advantage of EoT is the ability to gather much disparate data from multiple sources/processes, aggregate it and process it into a form of actionable intelligence that makes it a strategic asset to the organization. The problem is research indicates that 75 to 85 percent of all data gathered in organizations is never fully utilized. It may prove useful in specific targeted solutions, but it’s not helping the overall organization become more productive and/or competitive. And as more sensors are deployed, more data is generated, compounding the problem.

What’s truly needed is a consolidated ability to capture and process all of the data and convert it into meaningful insights. Many companies provide analytics engines to do this (e.g., SAP, Google, Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, etc.). But to have truly meaningful company-wide analysis, a significantly more robust solution is needed than stand-alone, singular instances of business intelligence/analytics.

How should companies enable the full benefits of EoT? They need a strategy that provides truly meaningful “actionable intelligence” from all of the various data sources, not just the 15 to 25 percent that is currently analyzed. That data must be integrated into a consolidated (although it may be distributed) data analysis engine that ties closely into corporate backend systems, such as ERP, sales and order processing, service management, etc. It’s only through a tightly integrated approach that the maximum benefits of EoT can be accomplished.

So, the true long term vision is to own an entire data in the organization. ERP and infrastructure vendors are coming to get it. And PLM vendors and implementers might find themselves in an isolation again.

What is my conclusion? I wish debates about who owns the data (PLM, ERP or somebody else) will become a history. It was originally the discussion about what database should store the data. It is still an important decision. But regardless on data storage, process implementation will require to make all this data available at your fingertips at the time of the decision. The borders between PLM and ERP are blurring in the agile product development processes. But, everyone understood very fast that data is a new oil and the company that will own the data in enterprise will set the rules. And it fired a new round of competition – now around IoT and EoT. So, name is new, but the fight is pretty old. PLM will face new players in the game – infrastructure companies looking for more enterprise data then before. 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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