Everyone speaks about the platforms these days. The word “platform” is overused, but all PLM vendors have started to use it intensively. PLM analysts and researches put a theoretical foundation of platform development. One of them is Product Innovation Platform by CIMdata.
Platforms are comprised of multiple applications and integrated solutions with embedded tools and databases that function as a complete, seamless environment. Product innovation platforms are intended to support groups of technically oriented people collaborating across the levels of departments, business units, and the enterprise. These capabilities are increasingly needed throughout the entire extended enterprise including customers, suppliers, and business partners, not just by new product development (NPD)—that was product data management (PDM) of old.
One of the important characteristic of any platform is openness.Openness: provides unencumbered access to product-managed data, workflows, and services; openness ultimately means both plug and play and transparency without using proprietary, “monolithic” architectures.There is a huge attention to openness in PLM world. Customers are very sensitive to any possibl;e lock inside a specific application or database or… platform. Openness is a way to break the boundary of a platform to build integration and use the data across multiple silos.
In the world where everyone wants to see a platform, the question about to use a specific PLM application can sound strange. But it is not actually. Because manufacturing companies have accumulated large number of technologies, products, and tools. Businesses are run using these tools. So, to ask companies to eliminate all these tools in a single step would be not realistic.
My attention was caught by AskAras video. Rob McAveney, Aras CTO speaks about possibility to break out an application from the platform. What I’ve learned is that Aras is not licensing applications and only licensing platform. Watch the video and draw your opinion.
I’ve been surprised by the following passage – licensing of the application separately will create an artificial barrier and silos. Somebody who is licensing requirements engineering cannot work with somebody in manufacturing planning because they don’t have a license to work on the application. It creates artificial limits. Aras believes there is a tremendous value in providing access to all information.
I agree with Rob McAveney – there is a huge value in accessing information. But what if… information is not located in an a single system? My thoughts was that open systems like Aras is positioned is capable to federate data between multiple systems and provide an umbrella for somebody to use Requirements Engineering in Aras and, at the same time, manufacturing planning in another system.
As far as I understand from earlier discussions and comments, Aras is coming to solve the problem of “monolithic legacy PLM”. Here is how it was defined by Marc Lind, Aras Chief Strategist in one of my earlier blogs a few years ago:
“Monolithic” describes a major problem we’ve set out to solve at Aras. Whole point of ‘interesting technological elements such as open XML driven data model schema’ combined with our loosely coupled, federated services is to enable fast customization and integration while retaining continuous upgradability… not sure how that could get lost / forgotten after all these years?!?
Agile PLM layer (i.e. Aras) over “stable” legacy PDM is for speed today. That way can gain rapid benefits now… and retire legacy whenever ready… rip & replace doesn’t have to be prerequisite for strategic benefit… it can happen anytime. Implement a single service, like workflow – just one process, like enterprise change – or whole end-to-end application suite… just what you need, when needed; that’s our approach.
Jill Newberg, Product Marketing Manager at Aras is speaking about Aras openness in her recent LinkedIn article:
Valuable data to support products, services, and business strategies comes from multiple domains. Can your platform assimilate a new domain into its data model—and can it interoperate across the supply chain? Does it understand data and processes across new domains like manufacturing, simulation, MRO, systems engineering, and beyond? Can your teams access and customize the data model, in a low-code/no code way that’s easily accessible and intuitive, or with coding if they so choose, and still be able to upgrade the platform?
What is my conclusion? How agile Aras approach is coming together with the need to license all applications to support digital thread? I didn’t find an answer to this question. Does it mean Aras strategy is changing as Aras is growing? Or digital thread is only possible when you put an entire data sett in a single platform (eg. Aras)? In such a case, it would turn Aras in a monolithic data set. I didn’t answer these questions yet. 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.