What is next for Autodesk PLM?

What is next for Autodesk PLM?

It has been long time since I covered Autodesk PLM in my blog. Time is running fast and it has been 7 years since Autodesk announced their intent to step into PLM development. You might remember my blog from 2011 – everything changes for Autodesk. Unfortunately, many links I put in the blog 7 years ago are dead. The only historical article I was able to get is Develop3D Al Dean’s review – Live From Autodesk University: Autodesk & PLM. Strap your boots on. It’s coming. Here are few passages:

Autodesk 360 Nexus is a new, cloud-based solution that will anchor Autodesk 360 for PLM with affordable, easy-to-use and simple-to-deploy software as a service that makes the benefits of PLM business applications available to business users anytime, anywhere — with less cost and risk.

Check video I captured at AU2011. The plan was to focus on “M” – data management in PLM.

It is important to understand how Autodesk defines PLM. In a nutshell, Autodesk is taking an approach to focus on “M” in the definition of PLM. You can listen to “what is PLM?” definition provided by Autodesk VP of PLM Steve Bodnar.

Accelerate is the event that was primarily focused on Fusion Lifecycle (aka as PLM360, aka Autodesk Nexus – all previous names of Autodesk PLM activities and products). I attended Autodesk PLM events for the last few years. They’ve been always a great source of information about Autodesk PLM development.Check some of my articles – Autodesk Accelerate 2017 notes – customers, IoT and cloud strategy; Autodesk Accelerate 2016 Boston; Thoughts about Autodesk PLM360 before Accelerate 2015, Accelerate 2014 and state of manufacturing industry.

Fast forward in 2018. I missed last Autodesk Accelerate Event in Toronto. I’ve been following articles and social media publications about Fusion Lifecycle coming from Toronto and here are few of them that caught my special attention.

Monica Schnitger publication –  Autodesk #XLR8s its way to Fusion gives you some idea about what she learned about current state of Autodesk PLM.

I flew to Toronto seated next to a gentleman also attending Accelerate as his company’s go-to PLM expert. He wanted to know what was coming for PLM 360, now rebranded as Autodesk Fusion Lifecycle. Autodesk doesn’t present much at Accelerate, so I didn’t see anything that would help him plan (I hope he had a meeting that addressed his questions!), but the customer presentations showed that PLM 360/Lifecycle users were seeing significant benefit even if they didn’t use any of the rest of the Fusion platform.

All of the presentations were excellent but one stood out for me: Chloe Watmore of Thermotex now runs the company her parents had started. She’s turned a five-person, paper-based manufacturer of makes thermal insulation and custom protective enclosures into a 25-person company that has mostly international customers. Ms. Watmore saw that the company could not compete at the level it wanted to if it didn’t change. She implemented PLM 360/Fusion Lifecycle to bring some digital order to the paper chaos. QR codes now help track raw materials and work in progress. Her customers can’t directly access the QR-based data but often snap a photo of the QR code and ask “make me some more like this”.

That marginal innovation (in other words, small changes) can be less threatening and often yield big results. That traceability leads to stronger ownership, and that ownership leads to employees suggesting changes that technology can help implement. Ms. Watmore started modestly, with sales order entry but now has PLM tentacles throughout her enterprise. Her next steps? Costing to enable faster quote generation, and expanding into purchasing, to get to supplier data in under 8 minutes.

Another article (actually in Swedish) – Autodesk and PLM? Sluggish at the port, but now it leaves …  – I’m not sure Google translation is 100% correct, but here is an interesting passage.

[Translation by Google]
Autodesk cloud-based platform, the Fusion Lifecycle (formerly called the PLM 360 Fusion), has been on track for a number of years now, so what’s up?

Clearly, the Fusion Lifecycle is advancing upwards, without yet gaining momentum. During the company’s PLM event, Accelerate, in Toronto, Canada, last week, several reviewers found that Autodesk customers generally are cautious generals, quite a bit of PLM skeptical: one gets into the area step by step by identifying one problem at a time, find a solution and then proceed to the next problem.

Generally, this approach is typical of PLM implementation among SMEs and is not at all wrong. PLM – or rather collaborative Product Definition management, which is a better definition of what the Fusion Lifecycle solution is – is a good overall concept, but requires changes that are dare to implement in a single loop. You are careful to break up working process patterns with the risks that a quick and complete conversion can bring. The focus is therefore on the traditional pieces: CAD data, document and BOM management. But the trend is also starting to broaden the field of view and it was no coincidence that the multiple Autodesk-PLM case studies, presented in Toronto, circulated around the process and workflow management page.

Both publication are consistent. Autodesk PLM is progressing, but not getting momentum. Customers are developing solutions marginally improving processes, but large number of customers are skeptical about PLM concepts and consider them expensive and complex.

What is my conclusion? Autodesk cloud platforms made a significant progress for the last several years. I can see Autodesk 360 is morphing in a single platform universe. At the same time, Fusion Lifecycle introduced back in 2011 is changing in a much slower pace. By pioneering ‘cloud PLM’ approach Autodesk was leading a change in PLM industry. Since the announcement in 2011, practically all PLM vendors announced some forms of “cloud PLM”. Industry learned that “cloud” can be different. Another lesson I’ve learned is that cloud by itself is not enough. To be different PLM and gain momentum (especially in SME organizations) PLM will have to go through a fundamental paradigm shift, radical simplification and find new business model. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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


Share This Post