PLM, Engineering Software and Business Trends in 2011

It is a middle of the year, and it is a perfect time to evaluate and talking about business trends. Lot’s of people are ready to relax before long awaited vacation season and summer holidays. What are the topics that we need to keep on our desks and get back to them later this year? This is the question I asked myself few days ago on the plane taking me from Tel-Aviv to Boston. I was reading Business IT Trends 2011 written by Frank Völkel in SAP Info. Take a time, read the article and analyzes. I found some of them are very interesting and relevant in the context of PLM projects and Engineering Software.

Tablet PC and Mobile

The post PC era is coming. Take a look on one of the previous posts – PLM and post-PC era. Something is really happening in this space, in my view. Here is the interesting quote from SAP Info article:

More than a third of the conventional PC market is set to be taken over by tablet devices, making every third new PC a tablet computer. At least, that is what analysts Goldman Sachs are predicting. If we believe the mobile advertising company Smaato, by 2013, there will be more smartphones with access to the Internet than there will be conventional PCs.

I can see PLM vendors are really recognizing “mobile” and iPad story. Last week PTC announcement of two mobile application during PlanetPTC event is another confirmation of high interest of PLM industry in this space. Earlier last year, mobile applications were announced by Autodesk, Dassault and Siemens PLM.

3D Images and Videos

This is an interesting trend. Consumer trend led by manufacturers of 3D devices. At the same time, it starts to proliferate in the business spaces as well.  There is a high interest in 3D from multiple players in the market. It starts from games and continues into 3D street navigation, 2D photo transformation into 3D and some others. I’ve seen few interesting applications and technologies in this space in the past, and I think the number of people and companies in this space is growing.

Social Media and Mobile Options

Talking about social media is not a new thing. I’m covering this topic for the last 2 years on my blog. The new trend of potential combination between “social” and “mobile” option is coming. The number of smart phones and other communication devices is growing. Businesses are using social channels to inform customers about new product features and product failures. However, the most interesting business trend I can see related to the ability to generate additional business with the help of social media. Here is the quote:

However, a central topic for many decision makers at companies is: How can the increased attention gained through social media be translated into new orders and – ultimately – a tangible increase in sales? So far, no one has been able to prove whether Facebook and Twitter activities have led to customer sales.

Now, think about PLM products. The ROI of PLM product suites can be completely different if PLM based information can be used outside of the company to generate additional business interest. Virtual product guides, visuals, online discussions – this is just a short list of what social media can do what it goes mobile with people.

Apps replacing Bulky Software

The era of small applications is coming. People are finally getting it and use it in their everyday life. However, how Apps can get into business space? Here is the deal. Apps can be a disruptive force for many existing software suites. You can get them easy, install on your mobile device and connect it to existing databases, data source and product suites. Read the following quote from the sameSAP Info article:

Apps can be downloaded free of charge or purchased, and can be used in office scenarios, to increase productivity, as tools forvirtual desktops, as voice-over-IP applications, as location-based services, or to access complex ERP software at major companies, to name just a few examples.

PLM software suites developed high level allergy from businesses as something heavy, complicated and costly. Shift your mind to Apps and you can have a different world. The main focus for existing companies and newcomers, here is to watch a precise use case that can be interested to end users in the company in order to sell Apps to them. Examples of useful Apps can be product sales tools, management dashboards, shopfloor applications, etc.

Cloud and Virtualization

Cloud companies are taking more and more attention in consumer and business life. Google Apps, Dropbox, Netflix, Amazon, etc. This is just a short list. Here is the interesting quote:

According to market research company Gartner, total revenues generated from software as a service (SaaS) amounted to U.S.$ 9.2 billion in 2010, which is 15.7% more than in 2009 (U.S.$ 7.9 billion). And SaaS is playing an increasingly important role in the area of enterprise software. In the near future, many organizations will, for example, dispense with their own infrastructures for e-mail, backup, and security – and save costs by renting instead.

I can see two factors turning the cloud into something disruptive in manufacturing and PLM space – cost and IT usability. This is especially interesting in the context of small manufacturers.  Cost is one of the major showstoppers from the side of these companies to deploy PLM solution. Another one is IT needs. If coming solution on the cloud will provide a significant differentiation in this space, it can be a turning point for many of the existing manufacturing companies keeping their PLM plans on hold.

Real Time Analyzes and Data

Last, but not least. Manufacturing companies are swamped in the data. It is everywhere. However, to analyze existing data in manufacturing companies is not simple tasks. Read the following quote:

Almost all companies – regardless of the industry in which they operate – are today fighting against an ever-rising tide of data: The volume of data they have to manage is on the increase, both for transactional and analytical applications. What’s more, creating reports from ERP and CRM data is becoming increasingly time-consuming. And the data is at least two hours old, so no one can really talk about “real time” in such cases. At the end of the day, the various interfaces and software applications result in high total cost of ownership (TCO).

I think, new technologies are coming to solve these problems. Some of them are coming from the web based solutions (Google, Facebook) and some of them are results of hardware improvements, memory availability, etc. To provide data analytical solutions for PLM can be an interesting opportunity.

What is my conclusion? These business trends are hot and energizing. Some really interesting things happen outside and PLM vendors need to watch it. I can see trends that can add some additional benefits to existing software suites. PLM vendors can have leverage the following trends - improved 3D, mobile, social, etc. On the other side, I can see disruptive stuff – Apps replacing existing software suites, cloud architecture that can significantly decrease the cost of existing solutions and improved data and analytical software that can make traditional data management outdated. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

(pictures are courtesy of SAP Info blog)

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3 Responses to PLM, Engineering Software and Business Trends in 2011

  1. Gary Johnson says:

    Oleg – Have you done any research on the growth of PLM departments in major corporations? Would be interesting to know the trends and also where in these organizations the PLM department rolls up under?

  2. Brian Vince says:

    Nice article… I think that you have hit a lot of the key points for nascent projects. In the short-term thought, I see the demand for true global collaboration. Companies are reorganizing and creating hihgly distributed project teams. This has long been discussed but it is happening on a broader scale now. This drives a true need for PLM.

  3. Brian, thanks for your comment. I tend to agree – global collaboration is a tough problem. However, the word “collaboration” is overused in PLM. And everything is so complex. People are looking for simpler solutions. What is your take on this? Best, Oleg

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