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Posts Tagged ‘PLM’

PLM 2012 Part II – Can Vendors Pull It Off?

Friday, January 13th, 2012

Last time, based largely on vendors’ marketing language,  PLM was defined as a comprehensive system and process that integrates, interfaces, and interacts with every other IT system within an organization, including CAD, ERP, CRM, etc.  While this occurs at a peer level, the PLM oversees and, to a certain extent, controls all data exchanges.

I think, however, there is a better definition and model of what PLM actually should be. Unlike many vendors’ definitions,  PLM is not a peer system to other systems, such as ERP, SCM, and CRM. Rather, PLM is the intellectual property backbone of an enterprise. While the other subsystems deliver indirect cost-reducing improvements, none of them have any measurable impact on delivering top-line, revenue enhancing results and only a minor impact on lowering direct costs. The only way to positively impact top-line revenues is to develop and build innovative, higher-quality products, and PLM is the only system of the four that addresses these issues.

In this context, PLM transforms ideas to profits, capturing customer experiences, and generating ideas for new products. Along the way, the intellectual property undergoes several transformations (such as ideas to concepts, concepts-to-prototypes, prototypes-to-products, and so on) and interacts with the other systems. Ideally, a well-implemented PLM system provides a comprehensive framework that lets all the other systems and disparate groups of users to easily interact with an enterprises’ intellectual property so anyone can add value to it.

I think the revised definition and vision finally get to the heart of what a PLM was always envisioned to be, but thus far, executed and implemented by only a few PLM vendors – an intellectual property asset manager that can be used universally within an organization.

Ultimately, the success of PLM is dependent on two things. First, it is imperative that vendors communicate comprehensively and truthfully what their PLM offerings can do and integrate with, as well as what their customers can reasonably expect in terms of gains and ROI. Second, customers must educate themselves to the true needs of their organizations and how they expect PLM to fit in with the rest of their existing and future IT infrastructures. Only then will customer expectations and vendor promises meet  for improving processes and resulting products through intellectual property asset management.

Can vendors pull off what PLM was truly meant to fulfill? I think so, and more and more vendors will do so, increasingly with cloud-based services that are just beginning, but should decrease implementation costs and increase productivity through being available to anyone anywhere.

PLM 2012 Part I – Will Vendors Pull It Together to Fulfill the Prophesy?

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Like many of the ingredients in a manufacturing organization’s computer technology alphabet soup, such as ERP, SCM, CRM, not to mention CAD, CAM, and CAE, product lifecycle management (PLM) for years has been touted as being the “next big thing” and the the final frontier for integrating all manufacturing IT functions.  Honestly, though, can it truly provide all that the various vendors are promising? I have asked myself that question for several years now — is PLM a great hope or just another great hype?

It seems that every vendor defines PLM in a manner that best suits their respective existing product lines and business practices, and not always necessarily the processes of the customers they are trying to serve. Therein lies a big part of the PLM problem. PLM should address processes and not just products – neither the vendors’ nor their customers’ – and too few vendors to this point have stressed the processes they are claiming to improve over the products and services they are trying to sell.

It also seems like everybody (yes, now including just about every CAD vendor big and small) is at least trying to get into the PLM act, regardless of whether they should or should not based on their development and integration capabilities or the needs of their customers. Even database giant, Oracle, says it wants to be a major PLM player, although the company has eluded that it doesn’t want to dirty its hands with traditional CAD/CAM stuff — it wants to look at the bigger picture, although it doesn’t elaborate what that picture is.

Although they are quite different in requirements, approach, implementation, and task load, I continue to see PLM and PDM (product data management) regarded practically as equals in vendors’ conference presentations and promotional advertising. Using these acronyms interchangeably only adds to the confusion that already exists in the PLM marketplace. However,  it does give more vendors more opportunities to say that they “do PLM.” By definition, PDM handles only data and is a subset of PLM; whereas PLM, to many peoples’ thinking, should interface and interact with every other IT system within an organization, including ERP, CRM, etc. at a similar level as a peer system.

So,  is PLM fulfilling the prophesy that the vendors have promised? That’s the question we’ll tackle in the next MCADCafe Blog.

 

PLM – Can Vendors Pull It Together?

Like many of the recent past ingredients of a manufacturing organization’s computer technology alphabet soup, such as ERP, SCM, CRM, not to mention CAD, CAM, and CAE, product lifecycle management (PLM) is without a doubt this year’s biggest buzzword and a technology that is touted as being the “next big thing.” But in all honesty, can it truly provide all that the various vendors are promising? I keep asking myself, is PLM a great hope or just another great hype?

 

It seems that every vendor defines PLM in a manner that best suits their respective product lines and business practices, and not necessarily the processes of the customers they are trying to serve, and therein lies a big part of the PLM problem. PLM should address processes and not just products – neither the vendors’ nor their customers’ – and too few vendors to this point have stressed process over product.

 

It also seems like everybody (yes, including just about every CAD vendor big and small) is trying to get into the PLM act, regardless of whether they honestly should or should not. Even database giant, Oracle, wants to be a major player, although the company has as much said that it doesn’t want to dirty its hands with traditional CAD/CAM stuff, it wants to look after the bigger picture, although it doesn’t elaborate even vaguely what that picture is.

 

Although they are quite different in approach and task load, I’ve even seen PLM and PDM (product data management) regarded practically as equals in conference presentations and promotional advertising literature. Using these acronyms interchangeably only adds to the confusion that already exists in the marketplace, but it does give more vendors more opportunities to say that they “do PLM.” By definition, PDM handles only data and is a subset of PLM; whereas PLM, to many peoples’ thinking, should interface and interact with every other IT system within an organization, including ERP, CRM, etc. at a similar level as a peer system.

PLM Industry Acquisitions and Consolidation – A Good or Bad Thing?

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

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:

  1. New independent PLM companies will continue to start up and evolve while developing new technologies.
  2. 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.

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