One of the biggest trends we have witnessed in the MCAD market for 2011 has been the number and magnitude of PLM industry acquisition transactions and the possible short- and long-term consequences. It seemed as though in some weeks we received at least one announcement from a major MCAD/PLM player acquiring either another company i its entirety or at least a piece of its PLM-related technology. Although nothing really new, the acquisition train really seemed to pick up steam this year compared to the recent past.
While a lot of technologies were grown organically from the inside of the major MCAD vendors, Autodesk, Dassault Systemes, and PTC also all made significant external acquisitions this year that will diversify and strengthen their offerings. Notably absent in the flurry of acquisitions was Siemens PLM software, although the parent company did do some acquiring in other divisions of the company.
The acquisition mix included everything from CAE, to ECAD, to software lifecycle development management, and a a number of technologies that are a little more esoteric.
Will any one of these acquisitions cause huge changes in the PLM market generally? For the most part, no, but they do point to the fact that the MCAD/PLM market continues to evolve and consolidate. However, the current acquisition/consolidation cycle might have significant impact on users who either already use one of the Autodesk, Dassault, or PTC PLM sets or are are in the process of selecting a PLM set for the first time.
We see no sign of the acquisition train slowing down anytime soon. We actually see the momentum picking up as the major vendors, relatively flush with cash, acquire smaller companies that have technologies that complement their existing product sets.
Though the PLM market continues to consolidate through acquisition, it will never completely consolidate for two reasons:
- New independent PLM companies will continue to start up and evolve while developing new technologies.
- A lot of independent PLM software development companies (and their customers) are satisfied being independent and want to keep it that way.
There is plenty of room in the PLM space for both camps to co-exist – industry consolidation thorough acquisition and remaining independent. The big boys can continue to expand their PLM sets and the independent software vendors can continue to do and focus on what they do best. Overall, the co-existence diversifies, stabilizes, and moves the PLM market forward while benefiting both vendors and customers.