I’m catching up more on Siemens RealizeLIVE and today I want to talk about flexibility and customization. I learned about Teamcenter X, integration infrastructure, low-code, and Mendix earlier today and I want to share some of my thoughts and also some questions with hope to find the answers.
Flexibility is one of the key characteristics of PLM technologies and products. The ability to create a custom data model, add attributes, configure business rules, workflows or customize some behavior – this is a shortlist of demands from engineers and manufacturing companies. Without such features and capabilities, many PLM implementations will be dead on arrival. Out of the box systems always played the role of excellent marketing, but when the rubber was hitting the road, flexibility was the key.
Siemens announced that it has acquired Mendix, the popular low-code application development platform, for €0.6 billion (or about $700 million) about two years ago and since then Mendix plays a key role in Siemens’ strategy of developing custom application and customization.
My attention was caught by the following slide explaining the strategy of Teamcenter integration. Check this out. As you can see Teamcenter PLM applications are buried under the layers of other applications and connectors – ActiveWorkspace, TC Connector for Mendix and Mendix platform.
The question I have is what level of customization is available in Teamcenter and how it will co-exist with Mendix application development. A separate question is about Teamcenter X and its customization capabilities. From my earlier article of comparison between Teamcenter and Teamcenter X, I learned that Teamcenter doesn’t have cloud services. I guess this is a reason for the Mendix connector. However, Teamcenter X has cloud services. Does it mean that it will be connected directly to Mendix? Or maybe Teamcenter X cloud services is Mendix platform? How basic Teamcenter functions will be customized in both Teamcenter and Teamcenter X? What is included in cloud services? How it is different from REST API, which is the de-facto standard in web customization and development.
Another slide with the example of big integration gives even more ideas and triggered more questions about how Teamcenter will be integrated and customized.
What is my conclusion?
Flexibility and customization are a matter of life and death for PLM implementation. While connectors are almost a standard way for integration business, the devil is in the details. How easy to create an integration using all these layers? Will REST API be available for customizing Teamcenter X and what will be the scope of supported functions? Without knowing the answers it is hard to make an assessment of how Teamcenter X will survive the modern SaaS eco-system for openness and integration. 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.