8 Characteristics Of A Modern PLM

8 Characteristics Of A Modern PLM

Differentiation is a big challenge for everyone and it is an even bigger challenge for PLM vendors. The reality of developing solutions for engineering and manufacturing is that it is really hard to find how to differentiate yourself from others. In the end, all manufacturing companies are doing the same work – building products and to appeal to solve the problem for them, the names and terminology should be in order and well understood by the engineers and companies. The invention of new buzzwords and terminology is a rare event and engineers are usually not very much excited about fancy names and flashy marketing.

My best example of making a differentiator out of nowhere is about how Lucky Strike used the “toasted” in their cigarette commercials back in the 1950s. Check out my Art of PLM differentiation. For the last few decades, we’ve heard so many of them. It started from “flexible, simple and easy”, moved integrated and collaborative, advanced into out of the box, shifted into cloud and platforms. Lately, we’ve got everything a digital X (Digital Twin and Digital Thread) making some advanced steps to replace PLM at all. A very recent addition to PLM differentiation marketing is SaaS.

The new word of PLM differentiation is “modern PLM”. I actually like it. Instead of calling everything old and legacy, let’s call ourselves a “modern”. It is very much a Lucky Strike way to win and say it is toasted.

The last masterpiece of publication about modern PLM goes to CIMdata and their commentary about TeamcenterX. Check this Delivering a Modern PLM Solution–Siemens Teamcenter X (Commentary).

The “modern” is all over the place there. Modern PLM environment. Modern PLM Solution. Modern, platform-based PLM data and process management backbone. Modern Cloud Platform. All the modern advancements. Modern, complete, fully-functional, SaaS implementation.

My favorite passage is this one.

Teamcenter X is a significant evolution of Teamcenter. It incorporates the defining characteristics of a modern PLM solution. On an infrastructure level, leveraging cloud services including multitenancy and microservices are basic requirements. Key capabilities include a comprehensive variant configurator to manage complex products and product families, broad and deep capabilities to enable multi-BOM, multi-CAD, and the ability to define an end-to-end digital thread as well as a comprehensive digital twin. All are critical for business process improvement and optimization.

In conclusion it says:

Effectively supporting today’s complex, heterogeneous, extended enterprise value chains, requires a modern PLM solution built on an open, flexible, adaptable, scalable architecture designed to evolve and grow as a company’s needs change.

This publication made me think about what can be called a modern PLM in 2020. The list is pretty simple. These are functional characteristics

1- complex products and variants
2- multi-BOM
3- multi-CAD
4- end-to-end digital thread
5- comprehensive digital twin

In addition to these five, here are 3 characteristics of the infrastructure:

6- cloud services
7- multi-tenancy
8- micro-services

It looks like a good list. Does TeamcenterX deliver all this stuff? I’m sure it does. Because the first three were part of PLM from day one. Digital Twin and Thread are something that is used broadly for anything these days (read my Digital Twin Hype). The infrastructure requirements are tricky ones to judge. Such things as multi-tenancy, cloud services, and microservices are debatable in any system which was not built from scratch for the last 10 years.

What is my conclusion?

The competition is getting hot in the PLM industry. There is a need for something different in the PLM eco-system. It can be a new system, a new business model, or a new paradigm.  To have the same features, functions, and concepts repeated with new technology might not do the desired trick for PLM vendors because introducing PLM to a company in a traditional way is hard. The PLM sales process relies on direct sales, which didn’t change for the last two decades. And Fortune 500 companies already have PLM in place from one of the top three vendors. A new way is needed. The way to do so is to look for the biggest pain or biggest white space in the industry. Anything else will go down like a bloody PLM marketing competition and adjectives like “modern PLM”. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing a digital network platform that manages product data and connects manufacturers and their supply chain networks.


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