Overcoming Legacy Systems in PLM – New Acronyms, Old Challenges

Overcoming Legacy Systems in PLM – New Acronyms, Old Challenges

As the manufacturing industry continues to be transformed by technology, new acronyms have emerged that often leave individuals feeling overwhelmed and unsure of what they stand for. My attention was caught by the TEC article written by PJ (Predrag Jakovljevic) a well-known author and researcher focused on PLM and ERP business – The article Propel Enriches PVM Platform with PIM Capabilities. The article speaks about Propel’s new development in the area of expanding PIM tools and turning them into the PVM platform. Check the article. In my view the following passage is the key:

Adding to the above trends is the integration of PLM with PIM features and an increased focus on incorporating sales and marketing perspectives—as well the voice of the customer—into product development. This brings us to the concept of product value management (PVM), with shared insights across product and commercial teams.
PVM enables a single system of engagement across product and commercial teams, which traditionally worked in siloed business processes and with technology solutions that hindered collaboration between product and commercial teams. As a result, commercial teams lacked the product information needed to do their jobs, delaying sales and marketing efforts, forcing serial/consecutive work processes, and increasing the time needed to launch new products. With PIM, the focus shifts from engineering teams to contextual collaboration to speed the process flow and the product-market engagement to drive the financial success of new products and services. PIM-integrated offerings provide a continuous thread that transforms technical data into compelling customer-facing product content, all on a single platform.

PLM, PIM, PVM… and other acronyms

For years of my focus on the PLM industry, I developed a curiosity for new terminology and three-letter acronyms. Unfortunately, the enterprise software industry, as well as enterprise software, is guilty of developing an excessive amount of TLA (three-letter acronyms). Sometimes these acronyms do a good work helping us to create a consolidated understanding of the processes and industry. But that is not always the case. I found Acronyms.com is an interesting website to check an unknown TLA, so I did about PVM. It has 152 explanations about PVM, but not much luck with PVM upvotes. To compare, PLM has only 50 upvotes. So who knows how these upvotes count? I don’t know how much value Acronyms upvote gives you. So, I dug a bit more and found a CIMdata article about Product Value Management based on Propel’s work. A few other links popped up such as Product Value Management Inc. a consulting firm focusing on improving the value chain for the industrial company as well as PwC recommendations for Product Value Management, which I kind of like. Here is a passage:

To help increase product value and reduce product costs, we advise clients on both technical and commercial levers as well as setting up product value management (PVM) organisations. Our services include competitor teardown and benchmarking, value-based requirements engineering, design-to-value, value engineering, cost modelling with supplier negotiation support, PVM organisational design, PVM training, digital PVM, software cost reduction, and value-based technology strategy development.

I also like the take from CIMdata on PVM:

Traditional enterprise software solutions do not adequately support the communication of value, due to their siloed nature. But a new approach to managing the lifecycle of products called Product Value Management offers a way for organizations to continuously align their products and services to rapidly changing market needs.

CIMdata conclusion is spot on and demonstrates one of the biggest problems of enterprise software for years – siloed databases and data locking.

From Single PLM Database to Industrial Digital Platforms

But while there may be a lot of buzzing around digital processes such as Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), the challenges associated with successful implementation are far from new. PLM has been used in some form since the late 1990s when large-scale manufacturers began implementing ERP systems, however, for many years PLM was struggling with the idea of making information available to many stakeholders in the organization and figuring out how to make the information available both upstream and downstream. With new digital technologies coming to the PLM space now, we might see the full potential of the PLM promised land, which was provided by marketers decades ago.

There is no lack of new digital technologies available for all manufacturing organizations these days. However, the challenge of digital transformation is to bring new technologies and make them adopted by enterprise organizations. And one of the main challenges is the siloed nature of the organization, application integration barriers combined with the absence of a digital transformation strategy. The latter has a lot to do with the company’s business strategy and continues to look for seamless customer experience. Let’s be honest for many years, industrial companies developed strong “hate” feeling about the complexity of PLM platforms and their capability to deliver information and value to everyone in an organization.

It is not the first time that technology providers are looking at how to improve information management and bring systems to bridge data in companies. It was the time when EAI (enterprise application integration), Master data management (MDM), product information management (PIM), and other product data governance technologies were offering tools to solve “all problems”, but it was not really materializing. Digital transformation is a strong trend now and it can break the years of attempts to deliver digital technologies capable to provide scaleable and robust industrial platforms including PLM, ERP, and other systems.

Overcoming Legacy Systems – From Applications To Data

So, what is changing now? One of the things I can see as a strong differentiation of modern business processes is the orientation on data instead of software tools. In the past, companies were in search of a single software tool that potentially can solve their problem and release them from the need to develop their information strategy. What can be better than just buying an ERP system (because it solves financial problems) and, maybe, PLM (because it brings peace of mind to engineering and maybe other disciplines. However, even the strongest believers in PLM as a technology-enabled discipline and ERP as the best tool to support organizational business models, agree these days that it is impossible to bring a single platform to solve problems and, instead, the focus should be on tech and SaaS services capable to change the application status quo and turn into the realm of data, data quality, data availability, and data governance.

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is an essential approach for companies to manage the entire lifecycle of a product, from ideation to retirement. One of the modern challenges of PLM is to make a switch from thinking inward about locking data and looking outward about how to make data easily available and valuable in the organization. As part of this work, PLM vendors will have to adopt a new level of openness in data and integration to be easily integrated with new and old technologies as well as data streams. It includes integration of the new digital technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and virtual reality (VR), to enhance the product development process.

What is My Conclusion?

Despite the benefits of PLM, there are still challenges to its future digital vision, adoption, and implementation. One of the primary challenges is to break a traditional siloed approach focusing on making PLM an isolated island in the ocean of organizational data and processes. New technologies such as machine learning, semantic consistency, AI, and many others will be able to enhance PLM solutions and bring cost savings to organizations. Digital PLM is an exciting development in the product development process, offering new tools and technologies to improve efficiency and reduce costs. However, it also poses new challenges such as the implementation of new digital technologies, data security and privacy, and information availability. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing a global digital thread platform providing PDM, PLM, and ERP capabilities and new experience to manage product data and connect manufacturers, construction companies, and their supply chain networksMy opinion can be unintentionally biased.


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