Staying ahead of the other companies in a digital transformation is important. Engineering and manufacturing companies are looking how to optimize their processes, drive innovation and remain competitive. A long New Year weekend was a great time to think about topics that will be trending in 2024 among PLM specialists, PLM architectures and IT service companies involved in PLM business.
Based on the reading, analysis and my person experience, I found the following 7 topics among top trending themes that important for PLM industry to discuss in 2024. These are very critical areas of PLM implementations, product data management, supply chain management, document management, designing and building products, computer aided design and developing digital business strategy.
Discussing these topics will help you to understand what to expect in the world of PLM in 2024.
1. Education and PLM Playbook
Education and organizational change management is on the top of my list. You may ask, why not technology, integrations, or something else? New data management or AI? Here is the thing – the culture eats strategy for breakfast, then technology for lunch and stays hungry for dinner. Therefore, it is absolutely critical for every company looking into how to implement PLM to develop a playbook that will help to plan all PLM related activities and, select technology, organize data and plan implementation steps. Sounds simple? Well, not really . Many companies are actually failing to pass these steps and then repeat. How to improve “survival rate” of PLM projects? This is why to develop PLM playbook is the first thing any company need to focus first. I’m curious what was your experience in driving digital transformation? Share your stories, please.
2. Digital Thread Product Model
The concept of a digital thread, which connects product data across the entire product lifecycle, is becoming central to PLM. While a more traditional approach is to provide many “integrations” connecting tools together, I can see an accelerated development of specialized digital thread tools and the need to develop product model for digital thread to solve problems of holistic integration. Will PLM take a lead in providing the right model or a new class of tools will show up focusing on building links between different systems? An alternative to this approach is to develop a dedicated digital thread product models. This approach enhances collaboration, traceability, and visibility, enabling organizations to make data-driven decisions throughout a product’s lifecycle.
3. From Data to Knowledge Graphs and AI
PLM and CAD vendors are actively looking at AI as a tool to provide innovative solutions for manufacturing. AI PLM is getting stronger, especially from the standpoint of “what and why” every day. In my view, the key to open AI door in PLM and manufacturing process management is to come with the data. AI has many horizontal tools and technologies, but the key is the key is to figure out when and how to get real manufacturers’ data that will become a foundation of AI business.
Companies are looking how to get the data to contextualize existing AI generic tools. To figure out the “data” is tricky. The next step after the data is collected and explored is to build a knowledge graph. Knowledge graph “in the context” the customer data. Knowledge graphs and AI-driven analytics will play a pivotal role in extracting valuable information from the vast amounts of data generated in the product lifecycle. This will empower organizations to make smarter decisions and identify opportunities for improvement.
4. What Will Happen with Vertical PLM Platforms?
Leading PLM providers are expanding their platforms via acquisition of other vendors and developing new tools and app. Which clearly indicates the a trend towards vertical integration. While vertically integrated platforms are powerful, the opposite side of the same “integrated” coin is the complexity of using multiple platforms. Do you think vertical platforms will continue to grow? Are we going to see more diverse set of tools? Will it be feasible to rely on a single platform in the modern manufacturing and engineering world?
5. How to Integrate Multiple Systems (Specifically PLM and ERP)
Integration was always a big deal for successful implementation of multiple enterprise systems. Traditionally, seamless integration between Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems are two most crucial systems to integrate for efficient product development process. PLM software cannot ignore the need to integration, especially the number of product lifecycle tools is growing every day. As businesses strive for better synchronization between product development and business processes, expect to see continued developments and best practices in integrating with multiple systems and services as well as focus on PLM and ERP integration specifically. Some of my thoughts about it is here – How to integrate PLM and ERP (patterns).
6. What Will Happen with Files?
Another important and interesting topic for discussion. Back in the 2010s, the perception of all PLM (especially cloud PLM) providers was that files are going to die. A decade later, I see how people are still continue to use files. Learn more about it here – files are not ready to give up.
For CAD and PLM, engineering and manufacturing, files are still very legitimate source of information from both work-in-progress as well as release process and downstream operation. For many engineers, hosted CAD desktop with all familiar features is still preferable compared to a CAD online service and, traditional STEP, PDF, DXF files are still needed in all release and distribution processes for manufacturing planning, contractor work and supply chain. Some of these “preferences” is related to habits and feature richness and some others are part of the regulated and standard processes demanded by companies, contractors and suppliers.
7. How to Compare PLM Systems and Services
All PLM systems are operating in the same “solution space”, therefore the names PLM systems are using can be very confusing to compare. What would you do with 5 identical (by functions) PLM systems. To select a new system, companies need to focus on what specific comparison criteria. In the following article , I provide a deep insight how to compare PLM technologies.
In 2024, expect to see increased focus on methodologies and tools for comparing PLM systems and services. Comprehensive evaluations and benchmarking will help organizations make informed decisions when adopting or upgrading their PLM infrastructure.
What is my conclusion?
The 7 topics are on the top of my 2024 PLM discussion list. I’m curious what is your perspective and what do you think I missed. In my view, the 2024 promises to be an exciting year for PLM, with advancements in education, digital thread models, data analytics, specialized online platforms, integration practices, cloud file management, and online services. Staying informed and proactive in these areas will be essential for businesses looking to harness the full potential of PLM and drive innovation in their product development processes. Tell me what you think. I’m happy to discuss more.
Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing a digital-thread platform with cloud-native PDM & PLM capabilities to manage product data lifecycle and connect manufacturers, construction companies, and their supply chain networks. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.