PLM is too complex and too expensive. I’ve heard it many times, especially from medium-size and small manufacturing companies. Licenses, servers, IT resources. The last decade of cloud development in PLM demonstrated that vendors are looking at how to improve the ROI of PLM systems, yet PLM business is far from democratization. The long debates about the true cloud, ended up bringing the SaaS PLM trend, yet many companies are still confused about what SaaS means – business model, products, or technologies. The PLM pricing model is improving, but still very far from transparency. So, what’s the unique value of SaaS PLM and why will SaaS make a difference when it comes to PLM experience?
It made me think about Digital Business. Have you heard this word before? It might sound complex and confusing, so let me simplify it for you. Digital businesses are using technology to create new value and customer experience. These technologies are changing the business model, the way products and services are sold and new ways to support their core operation.
There are 3 fundamental things SaaS brings to change PLM experience.
1- On Demand
SaaS technology starts with instant service availability. The expectations of the companies from digital business models are to be available immediately. Register account, sign-in, and start using it. Modern SaaS systems can be available for you literally in minutes. If it doesn’t happen, check the vendor and what is the technology behind. You can discover lipstick on the pig such as a 20 years old PLM stack hosted on AWS.
On-demand is not only about technology, but also applies to PLM marketing, sales, support, and implementations. New SaaS experience is to provide everything online, eliminate the need to have a workshop on site. Connecting people in real-time, answering questions, sharing demo accounts, developing online custom integrations is just a shortlist of what SaaS can bring and how it can be different from your old grandfather PLM.
2- Digital Information Assets
Once you have a SaaS PLM system, you will be able to re-think the way information is becoming available in the organization. Modern SaaS systems make information available globally, which can become instrumental in improving communication and data sharing. It includes not only the development team and manufacturing but also contractors, suppliers, and customers.
New digital information assets allow us to change manufacturing business models by gathering information from customers, planning maintenance, streamlining ordering, and procurement systems. The information about the products manufactured by the company is an added value and it will improve manufacturing company customers.
3- Business processes and continuous improvement
Change is the only constant thing. SaaS PLM is a foundation for new business process development. A PLM consulting company can be connected with your SaaS PLM and have full exposure to company processes. As a result, the opportunity to see bottlenecks and plan improvements. A combination of online access and digital assets is the unique value that can be only created using SaaS PLM.
What is my conclusion?
SaaS was growing in many industries and finally going mainstream in manufacturing. An average business these days is using 40 SaaS applications in total (numbers from 2019). SaaS tools allow companies to close the gap between the need to apply technology to simplify data and process management and the effort (and cost) to make it happen. PLM experience is moving from calling a phone number of a sales rep to opening a browser, setting up an account, and connecting with online service and people to support you online. It includes live chats, support, training, consulting, implementation. So, thinking about SaaS as only moving PLM servers from your company IT to Azure or AWS is a big mistake. 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.