Two months in the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a good time to talk about some lessons learned. These lessons are mostly coming from digesting news and communication coming from PLM vendors, markets, and customers. COVID is not a traditional crisis. It is an event that shut down some businesses and brings some others to the top of the possible performance. Think about amusement parks and manufacturers of medical equipment. These two businesses are on the opposite sides of the crisis – the first is completely shattered and the second is struggle to quadruple their performance and outcome.
1- Exploring new limits
As always in the crisis, we rediscover the limits. It might not be very specific for PLM, but we are discovering so many new things these days. Timeline is re-arranged, meeting rescheduled, projects reset, and communication re-imagined. Companies are finding new resources, new ways to think, and adopting new practices. It is amazing to see how everything is changing every day.
2- PLM Sales online
Customers don’t want to see vendors. Just a few months ago, it would be sounded really crazy thing to think about. But, as we move into the post-COVID world, even after people will come back to their offices, the companies might not want strangers around them. Video conference is good enough and whatever you have to say, demo, sell, etc. can be done via video conference. Selling PLM online can be an interesting change and cloud/SaaS will rock in this environment.
3- Cloud and SaaS is soaring
Everything is moving online, so SaaS and cloud are a new normal. SaaS vendors and technologies could not imagine a better push towards online software. IT organizations are reviewing their policies and norms for online work. Companies will be looking for the future online world and SaaS platforms can expect an acceleration in adoption.
4- Supply chain and Scaling
Everyone speaks about the supply chain in a new normal world. As I said, some companies will be disrupted, but others will see an increased demand. New conditions will require a better way to scale and PLM systems will have an opportunity to show up and to provide solutions for manufacturing companies to scale on demand.
5- New collaboration
Collaboration is going through a huge scale of changes. Zoom, Microsoft, Google are helping us today. But this is just a beginning. Each product (CAD, PDM, PLM, ERP, etc.) will experience the demand to provide some answers on “collaboration”. Communication and collaboration are the most critical element in future work processes.
6- Finding new opportunities
PLM companies should watch around and think about how to apply their technologies in a new way. Nobody thoughts before how to make PPE from baseball caps and how to use snorkel masks in hospitals. Those are just a few examples of new opportunities. More to come later as companies will start discovering what manufacturing companies and engineers need these days.
7- New life of free software
Long time skepticism about freemium software is vaporizing. Companies are giving away software and services that can help people right here and right now. If companies do it in a smart way, they can find business behind this free software bar. Almost all CAD/PLM companies offered some software of free (or discounted) software these days. Customers have one in the lifetime opportunity to convince vendors to make a change.
8- End of desktop CAD / PLM is coming faster than we think
The desktop is finally moving into a “not-cool” status. Having an installation (even if it is MS Office) will limit you and won’t allow working in the most efficient way. We are going to see a final push away from on-premise and desktop-based systems. Companies will appreciate everything remotely and online and get rid of painful installations and connections to a specific desktop /server machine.
9- New events
I can see a big push into online marketing, events, and forums. We are seeing tons of new online activities – events, webinars, meetups. Everything is moving online, which adds tons of new opportunities to communicate and to find the right engagement models.
What is my conclusion?
There is no way back from COVID- only forward. New methods of work, no office condition, new policies, new software tools. Everything will be in demand. It is an interesting time to live in.
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.