Moment PLM articles about the role, responsibilities, and desired skills of PLM architects caught my attention earlier this week. Check it out for Part 1 and Part 2. The article provides a great summary of what a company can expect from a person to lead PLM implementation from both businesses, technical and user standpoint. Check this out- I found it very insightful and practical for anybody looking for PLM jobs.
My favorite passage (or actually a question) from both articles is about the changing role of PLM Architect as the PLM industry is moving towards SaaS and cloud technologies. Here is the passage:
On the one hand, with the rise of cloud-hosted solutions, further hybrid integration requirements will emerge; they will most likely be impacting configuration and customization design elements. On the other hand, in the context of platform-as-a-Services (PaaS) solutions providing to multi-tenant clients, the role of “PLM Solution Architect” might become less relevant—at least for PLM solutions targeting the small and medium enterprise market. At the application level, a lot more focus could be expected from the Solution Architect on business process architecture, integration, and data mapping.
The article made me think about the changing landscape of PLM architect’s jobs, what is changing and what skills will be needed for PLM architects in the next decade.
1- IT Architecture and PLM Technology. Understanding of modern technical stack, IaaS, PaaS, SaaS principles, and knowledge of modern infrastructure is the key. The old PLM architecture was inward focused on what is inside of the company. The world outside was usually under general IT and very little of distributed architecture and networking. What will be the PLM stack in the future? The importance of network architecture will be growing, the deep understanding of SQL will be probably going off the first top priorities.
2- Vendors and Business. A deep understanding of vendors and business models will be in high demand. In the past, the PLM deal was defining what you do for the next decade or sometimes even longer. Once licenses are purchased PLM architecture job was to put all PLM software at work. In the SaaS world, business is first and it is dynamic. It is more about consumption and usage compared to ownership in the past. To be able to understand how to optimize the usage, subscriptions, data and many other aspects of the SaaS business will create a differentiator for PLM architects.
3- Data Management. The data is a new oil and the data is a core piece of any PLM. To understand data architectures is extremely important. We observe a Cambrian explosion of data management technologies. To understand all the pieces of modern data management toolbox will be absolutely critical. Understanding SaaS data management tools available on-demand will allow you to leapfrog any other PLM architect coming from the traditional SQL world.
4- Implementation principles. A traditional PLM was a multi-year project. Long planning cycle and big-bang implementations. Although agile implementation is not a foreign word in the lexicon of PLM implementation and consulting firms, SaaS PLM creates a speedy firestorm in the way PLM implementations are happening. SaaS is different. The systems are available immediately and focus is heavily moving towards implementation planning, sprints, and alignments with organizational goals in the first place.
The current PLM world is still busy with doing business on-premise. My assessment is that more than 90% of PLM revenues are still coming from PLM systems developed 20+ years ago. But, changes are coming. And the first change will be the demand of industrial companies to figure out “what is next”? PLM implementations are not a sprint type of work. It is a marathon for years. So, nobody wants to make a mistake. I can see industrial companies, large OEMs, and also medium-size companies are concerned about future PLM planning, assessment of technologies and products. The mistake will be very costly and impact your resume and future jobs.
What is my conclusion?
SaaS PLM is on the rise and the demand for PLM architects understanding SaaS and cloud technology will be skyrocketing in the next few years. Almost all industrial and manufacturing companies are concerned about future PLM architecture and actively working to discover what is the right tech stack, companies, technologies, and platforms. No company I know is willing to miss the right trend, company, and strategic decisions. Therefore skills related to cloud, SaaS, new technologies and business models applied to PLM will be in high demand as well as an understanding of what modern SaaS PLM vendors do and how it differs from traditional PLM architecture and databases. 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.