Earlier this week, I was talking to one of my teenage sons about his homework. At one moment of time, I told him that he can save his research work in the file. He gave me such a look like you can expect usually from teenagers – you know, that look that says, “What universe did you come from?!!?”. When I asked him what was wrong, he told me that it is pointless to save data in the file when he can put it in Google Drive.
We had friendly debates about if he should use files or not and I found a few very interesting things that were obvious to him. For him, files needed are when you download something to his computer to install (eg. a game or some programs like for example Google Chrome). To save documents on the computer doesn’t make sense, because they will waste space. The space in Google Drive is probably endless, while his computer has only 512GB of disk space and when it will end, he will have a problem.
So, I realize that for an entire generation of people, storing data on the computer is not considered a natural, safe, and straightforward thing to do.
In that spirit, I believe the term on-premise PLM is on the way down. It will be soon irrelevant when people from son’s generations will come to IT departments and will start managing companies and software from their “digital-native” perspective. Why install the application, when you can just use it via the browser. The browser is so natural and installing the application is some kind of special case, like a game.
If you think about it, who is in the world today developing an on-premise solution? I wasn’t able to think about a single company developing on-premise applications today. Besides those companies that are 20 years old and developed the core of their platforms a decade ago. Companies are massively speaking about the digital world, twins, threads, transformations. Nothing in these conversations implies that this is about software that must be installed on your computer. Companies are just omitting the words “on-premise” and “installation” and replacing it with anything that sounds like “using…” product or tech. For many of them, installing software is like saving data in the file – doesn’t make sense.
At the same time, we still use the “document” paradigm when we address information stored in Google Drive and other storage. We think about it as a file, but in fact, they are pieces of information using the experience we’re familiar with but working completely differently.
What is my conclusion?
The conceptual paradigm of files (or documents) is with us and probably will remain. It is because the paradigm is important and well understood. The simplicity matters and documents (or files) is an easy and simple paradigm. At the same time, the physical storage of the files is losing its relevance when users are thinking of cloud storage or application as a primary place to store data. The same will happen with on-premise PLM. While I can hear many companies are still saying “on-premise” PLM is important, I bet the new generation of users will think about on-premise software as an obsolete and impractical idea. Just my thoughts…
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.