PLM was never an easy domain to explain. For the last 10-15 years, marketing tried multiple approaches positioning PLM in a variety of forms. PLM was always a vague place between edges of design (CAD) and manufacturing (ERP). Depends on a vendor, PLM solution are closer to one of these edges.
A question about PLM identity crises isn’t such new in a community of people writing about PLM. Here are few examples – A PLM identity crisis by Jos Voskuil. Another article The PLM Old Fart Paradox. Is PLM just a bunch of old guys by Jim McKinney. Read these articles. They will give you an excellent perspective of PLM backstage.
It sounds like PLM has identity crisis. At the same time, it is possible that new trends in technology and manufacturing are creating a new reality and will help to reborn PLM to solve new complex problems. A good question to ask people professionally giving advise about PLM.
Recent article from CIMdata PLM roadmap Europe caught my attention by the following slide from Peter Bilello. He is a passage from Jos Voskuil summary:
Peter mentioned that at the board level you cannot sell PLM as this acronym is too much framed as an engineering tool. Also, people at the board have been trained to interpret transactional data and build strategies on that. They might embrace Digital Transformation. However, the Product innovation related domain is hard to define in numbers. What is the value of collaboration? How do you measure and value innovation coming from R&D? Recently we have seen more simplified approaches how to get more value from PLM. I agree with Peter, we need to avoid the PLM-framing and find better consumable value statements.
The question on the slide is loud an clear – should we stop selling PLM, because it is not selleable asset? Most of companies that wanted PLM (aka Boeings and Toyotas of these world are already in PLM busienss). And most of others are not very much looking at PLM as a compelling story – it is complex, risky and expensive.
What is my conclusion? Is it a time to stop selling PLM? It became obvious that PLM vendors were looking for new “identify” for the last years. Business of engineering, digital manufacturing, democratization, IoT, Digital Twin, Digital Thread… you name it. I think PLM is generation name. Industry has love and hate relationships with these three letters. Even it is complex, I can see how vendors continuously selling ideas of “single version of truth” that still viable and probably the only one that understood in PLM business. Grab all data, put it in a database, funnel information between people and control who does what. The ugly truth of many PLM implementation today. New identity is hard. Will PLM industry find one? I’m not sure. Just my thoughts…
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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