My recent few months were turbulent, so I’m apologizing in front of my readers for my somewhat infrequent contribution to the Beyond PLM blog. Multiple factors put stress on me and influence my day-to-day schedules. A mix of health and geo-political events increasingly influenced our lives recently and put increasing pressure on our day-to-day agendas. OpenBOM, the company I co-founded was maturing and growing up substantially, which made my life very busy too. Last, but not least, I took some time to think and talk with many of my readers, customers, industry analysts about the current trajectories of business processes, business systems, supply chain, product data management, product lifecycle management software, cloud PLM, digital transformation, and rest of digital technologies.
The Growing Role of PLM Software
In the world of product lifecycle management (PLM), things are changing rapidly. What was once a nice-to-have engineering technology is now becoming a business necessity, as more and more companies move to digitally transform their operations. This trend is only expected to continue in the coming years, making PLM and product data management an essential part of any manufacturing organization’s IT infrastructure. Cloud PLM is a big part of the digital transformation. CIMdata estimated the PLM market worth around $50B last year growing in high single-digit numbers. At the end of the month, I’m planning to learn more about PLM business by attending the CIMdata industry and market forum (hope it will be my first physical event in more than 2 years). As the number of technologies and products in the PLM market is growing, how can you make sure you’re selecting the best PLM for your needs?
According to CIMdata research, about 66% of manufacturing companies are looking for cloud PLM software with the goal to modernize their PLM tools and processes. For the last two decades, industrial companies made huge investments in document management, product management, management of quality processes product lifecycle management software, and other digital technologies. What will happen next and what role cloud-based PLM systems will play in the future system transformation and the transformation of all the relevant data is a very interesting question.
In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the current state of PLM and some factors to consider when choosing a PLM solution for your business.
Supply Chain and Digital Transformation
Unless you lived under the rock for the last year, you’ve heard about supply chain disruption that created a substantial amount of challenges for manufacturing process planning, production processes for manufacturing companies of all sizes – small and medium companies and large enterprises. I’m sure you’ve heard about chip shortages slamming automotive and other industries and many other examples when weather, geopolitical and other events created turbulent situations for many industries.
Winston Churchill’s famous observation during the worst days of WWII has a lot to teach us today – “Never let a good crisis go to waste”. As we grapple with many challenges, we need to remember that dramatic change inevitably uncovers fresh insight and the opportunity to grow business systems. As the world of product lifecycle management (PLM) keeps evolving, so do the needs of manufacturers. With new technologies and business models emerging, it can be hard to keep up with the latest trends and know which PLM software is right for your company.
Digital technologies developed for the last two decades will have a profound effect on how we apply them to manage manufacturing and supply chain activities. Cloud technologies, new ways to collaborate, modern data management, and data analytics – all these technologies will bring the relevant data in the right forms and functions to help manufacturing companies optimize their product master data management, project management, and other processes related to engineering and manufacturing.
Cloud PLM and Vendors Status Quo
The adoption of cloud technologies and PLM software products in manufacturing and other industrial companies is growing. Still, there is a lot of confusion about the differences between cloud PLM software options, capabilities, limitations, and advantages. I shared some thoughts about how to select cloud PLM software in 2022 a few weeks ago. Check this out. The main three options are hosted, enterprise SaaS and cloud-native platforms.
How to map between technological options, existing and new products in the market, to compare benefits and values is still one of the biggest challenges for engineers, contractors, suppliers, industrial OEM, and everyone else who is manufacturing products today. You can check by brand names, but it can be confusing (wait for my black hole platforms blog coming). You can check the G2 PLM category, which is listing about 80 products. Most of these products are fit the cPDM/PLM software classification, but not some of them are very specific.
For the last 2-3 years, mainstream PLM vendors made multiple acquisitions of PLM platforms and tools, but most of these M&A activities only changed the ownership of the products and didn’t change significantly what these products are capable to do and how these products integrate with other systems.
Here is my take on the current status among leading PLM software vendors. The list is alphabetical and I included companies of all sizes (I’m not trying to present an exhaustive list, so I miss a significant vendor, please comment below). I included acquired vendors’ products in the brand or vendor name.
Last year, Aras was acquired by a private equity company GI Partners. It is a major change for Aras, which includes a leadership change (Peter Schroer, who was Aras founder stepped down from his CEO position). New capital and new leadership have a clear goal to grow Aras and their focus remains the same – very large enterprise customers. The unique advantage of Aras is their Aras Innovator flexible platform. Aras introduced Enterprise SaaS offering, which is a single-tenant virtual setup of Aras Innovator and DevOps infrastructure how to host Aras platform on Microsoft Azure platform.
For a very long time, aPriory is focusing on enterprise cost management. I didn’t see their product as a PLM solution until very recently. Recent changes in aPriory position it as a manufacturing intelligence platform, which also comes with the recent investment round of $30M with the valuation of $280M.
After a long time being quiet in PLM space, Autodesk came back with the acquisition of Upchain. It brings the 3rd PDM/PLM software under a single roof of Autodesk manufacturing solutions together with Autodesk Vault and Autodesk Fusion 360 Manage (aka Fusion Lifecycle). It is not clear at this point what will be trajectories of these products. Based on the conversations with customers and prospects, Autodesk confirmed all three products will c0-exist. But how it will happen and what will be the role of Autodesk Forge remains unclear.
3DEXPERIENCE platform is clearly the flagman of DS offering. However, existing products are still there and you can see ENOVIA SmarTeam, SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional, and some other products available and used by customers. One of the biggest transformations for DS in cPDM/PLM space is bringing SOLIDWORKS systems under 3DEXPERIENCE roof, including 3DEXPERIENCE Works and native cloud design and data management products. You should watch ENOVIA portfolio to understand DS strategy.
Cloud platform focusing on PLM software for hardware teams. According to the website, Duro Duro delivers a collaborative and easy-to-use single source of truth for all product-related data. It provides three subscription levels prices ranging from $450-$750 / month. Although it is positioned as a SaaS tool, the registration on the website is not available – you can only schedule a demo.
Ganister is an innovative European PLM company founded by Yoann Maingon is known for its plans to use Graph Database as a foundation of PLM solutions connecting and sharing product information. The system can be installed and hosted. However, doesn’t look like a cloud-native SaaS solution. It requires Neo4j database to run.
A cloud-native PLM platform, OpenBOM provides online data management and connects industrial companies with contractors and suppliers. OpenBOM provides functions traditionally available in PDM, PLM, and ERP platforms focusing on design data management, product lifecycle, BOM management, and production planning. OpenBOM provides multiple integrations with CAD, PDM, and ERP products. (Disclaimer – I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM)
The history of PLM at Oracle goes back to the acquisition of Agile PLM. The product is still available, but Oracle announced discontinued support of Agile and the introduction of the new Oracle PLM. The new cloud platform includes PLM and supply chain services is a broad product offering, which should become a successor of Agile PLM. However, I can hear many questions about the future trajectories of Agile PLM customers. Time will show.
Founded by Agile PLM veterans with the idea of building PLM software on top of the Salesforce.com platform, Propel is a SaaS PLM software providing core functions of enterprise PLM and at the same time integrated with CRM functions of Salesforce.com. It is an interesting combination for Salesforce.com customers or anyone who is interested in PLM functions on the top of a flexible enterprise SaaS platform. The absence of engineering focus and very few integrations with design and CAD products is one of the questions marks in Propel portfolio.
For the last few years, PTC’s strategy is to lead SaaS CAD and PLM revolution. PTC made a substantial investment in acquiring two large SaaS technological products and customer assets – Onshape and Arena Solutions. Combined with PTC’s strategy to SaaSify all their products until 2025, PTC is a very interesting place to watch. Onshape is a clear technological winner in the PTC SaaS platform. The position of other products in the future is not clear. At this point, Arena seems to be an isolated solution PTC sells to customers, but I didn’t hear about any plans of Arena integrations into the Onshape (Atlas) platform. What will be the trajectory of Atlas and Windchill is also a topic in the future.
PLM software at SaaS is presented by multiple SaaS modules and solutions acquired more than a decade ago. SAP presence and focus is well known as well as their capabilities and focus to deliver enterprise solutions for large business needs. PLM strategy of SAP is to build an alliance with Siemens Teamcenter and this is a topic for a separate article. My blog about it is here.
Teamcenter is clearly the leader in the PLM software world by the number of customers and seats sold. For many years, Teamcenter Product Lifecycle Management software is the richest and most established product brand. Coming with a long history of M&A from multiple Teamcenter versions, Siemens introduced TeamcenterX hosted SaaS version, which can be available to their customers. The trajectory of Teamcenter is interesting because of the attempts to combine legacy and novelty. Teamcenter is part of a larger Siemens portfolio together with multiple MCAD and ECAD and low-code platform Mindsphere.
I ended up with a longer article than I usually do. It was a combination of a lot of materials I wanted to share as well as me not blogging for a few weeks. I hope you find the materials about the current PLM vendors’ status quote interesting. I’m coming back with shorter articles and discussions about multiple topics – technology, enterprise PLM transformation, platforms, and many others. In my view, PLM software is one of the hottest segments of the enterprise software market with a large number of opportunities in cloud PLM, digital transformation, multiple digital technologies such as machine learning, global data management, and overall transformation of enterprise software and PLM into the digital age. Just my thoughts…
Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing a digital cloud-native PLM platform that manages product data and connects manufacturers, construction companies, and their supply chain networks. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.