PLM and SharePoint: Business Together?

I want to learn more about Microsoft’s strategies these days. The “big PC” is preparing to become the biggest supplier of enterprise software Office boxes and Office servers. Microsoft is not exciting these days. However, they are making huge money by selling software to enterprise manufacturing. The majority of manufacturing companies are running Windows. Windows 7 release seems to me fixed Vista bugs and customer are buying Windows 7 and Office. Google might be disturbing Microsoft when they announce the next big organization migrating to Google Apps, but companies sits on Microsoft’s technologies, for the moment. SharePoint is one of the most significant elements in Microsoft’s enterprise vision. Almost two years ago, I wrote – SharePoint PLM Paradox. Today I want to revise what I wrote with new thoughts and facts.

SharePoint as a Service Vehicle

In my view, Microsoft put a lot of effort in establishing mainstream vision behind SharePoint. One of the most successful elements of this effort was what I call – “enterprise freemium model”. It was implemented by introducing WSS (Windows SharePoint Services) product. WSS license embedded into Windows Server licenses enabled Microsoft to use it as a trojan horse. It allowed to Microsoft to establish a presence in the organization. It was an easy decision for IT and department people – SharePoint is free, let’s ride these free collaboration services. However, after initial excitement, people came to the point that lots of SharePoint promises can be realized by buying SharePoint enterprise licenses and bringing consultants and service companies to the site. As I can see today, SharePoint plays a role of an excellent service vehicle for Microsoft’s enterprise strategies.

PLM and SharePoint: Flirt or Marriage?

PLM and SharePoint marriage was an interesting opportunity two years ago. Mindshare PLM companies decided to play differently with SharePoint. Siemens PLM established early relationships with SharePoint kid, even before a successful MOSS 2007 . TeamCenter community is a product UGS pushed to ride on top of SharePoint. I haven’t seen lots of excitement about TeamCenter Communities, but the product was on the market. Dassault was flirting with SharePoint very carefully by establishing a strategy – “customers first”. They tried to to have enough customer implementations before (or instead of) marriage. PTC decided to marry and established a very promising new product line – Windchill Product Point. I’ve been reading Parametric Technologies Analyst meeting highlights by Jay Vleeschhouwer. According to Jay, a ProductPoint 2.0 is one of the important elements in PTC strategy. As far as I listen to PTC execs, ProductPoint and SharePoint strategy plays a significant role in the overall PTC strategy.

Service vs. Free Products

In my view, PLM companies can take two possible decisions in their strategies related to SharePoint. One is to sell products dependent on SharePoint and generate additional service money. Will it play well together? Maybe… I don’t think SharePoint is really needed to increase PLM service revenues, but this interplay with Microsoft sales channels can be a good cooperation. Alternative option is to give away SharePoint-dependent products to establish market share. This can be an interesting and even unpredicted turn. Nowadays, “free” is considered as a future best price and it can generate a new trend.

What is my conclusion? Microsoft is selling lots of SharePoint boxes to manufacturing companies. It is interesting to see how/if PLM companies will be trying to monetize SharePoint presence in the manufacturing companies. Is there future in common PLM SharePoint strategies? This is a question I want to ask PLM companies today. There are few possible answers – (1) We can sell products and services together; (2) We can give away product “for free”, adjusted to SharePoint in order to gain a market share; (3) Nah… We can do it – this is yet another option to sell PLM portfolio. Just my thoughts… Let me know what do you think.

Best, Oleg

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4 Responses to PLM and SharePoint: Business Together?

  1. The problem with the PLM platforms has always been agule support of ad hoc collaboration needs – a way to interrupt the manufacturing process, extract specific artifacts, collaborate with small teams and outside partners to, for example, edit a component design, and then insert those changes back into the larger workflow and see the changes reflected in the BOM and supply chain.

    The opportunity with SharePoint is to use it as the presentation layer for the more complex PLM systems. PTC was the first to recognize this opportunity, and are enjoying the fruits of their first-mover status. As more and more major users of PLM solutions adopt SharePoint in the front-office, it will be interesting to see how the various PLM vendors respond to demands for SharePoint in the warehouse.

  2. buckleyplanet, You are right! The initial intent was to use simplified UI concept proposed by MS/SharePoint. I think, the first company used SharePoint in PLM space was Siemens PLM (former UGS) – TeamCenter Communities. However, it wasn’t about UI only. I think, the problem with SharePoint I hear, is the amount of services needed to put SharePoint up and running. This is something that can double PLM implementation investment. It will be very interesting to see how PTC is handling it in their projects. Best, Oleg

  3. Yes, it is rather heavy-handed for what PLM vendors want to do, but with the expansion of BPOS (Cloud) activity, Microsoft is on the path to offering a viable extranet solution that “could” provide the rich features companies want and need.

    I was part of the original product team at E2open and helped create their Collaboration Manager platform. When I joined Microsoft MMS (now BPOS-D) back in 2006, I connected very quickly with the manufacturing sector guys and shared my experiences deploying to companies like Solectron, Nortel, Seagate, Hitachi, Matsushita, Cisco, and Sony. The wish list was the same at all of the companies, and at the time (and for the most part, still today), E2open was the only company that could solve this problem.

    Only in the last year or two has SharePoint started contending in this space, and companies like PTC are showing others how to enter the space.

  4. Christian, Thank you for sharing this information. I think we will see more experiments with SharePoint. Since MS will be continuously selling and pushing Office servers to enterprise companies, SharePoint will be still a go-to-market opportunity to sell your solution to enterprise. PTC is the PLM reality check in SharePoint business. Best, Oleg. PS. You can follow more articles on my beyondplm.com blog.

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