I’ve been out of active blogging for the last week because of Autodesk week of rest. It is a perfect time to disconnect from day-to-day activities, stop and think about what happens in PLM from different perspective – customers, vendors, technology. Approaching the end of the year, we can see huge amount of blog posts with titles like "the most important things you need to pay attention in 2013". I’m a bit tired of these "predictions". I decided to jump over and think about longer perspective of PLM beyond 2013. One of the companies that always impressed me by their long term thinking strategy is Amazon. You can read a bit about Amazon long term strategy from the last year NYT article here. My favorite passage is this one –
“If everything you do needs to work on a three-year time horizon, then you’re competing against a lot of people,” Mr. Bezos told reporter Steve Levy last month in an interview in Wired. “But if you’re willing to invest on a seven-year time horizon, you’re now competing against a fraction of those people, because very few companies are willing to do that. Just by lengthening the time horizon, you can engage in endeavors that you could never otherwise pursue. At Amazon we like things to work in five to seven years. We’re willing to plant seeds, let them grow—and we’re very stubborn.”
It made me think about what I can see on a horizon pf PLM product and technologies for the next seven years. To make long term prediction is risky thing. Nevertheless, I will take a chance to put some of my questions, ideas, thoughts and the conclusion below.
What we do after "cloud" goes mainstream?
We are in the middle of the biggest technological transformation since PC-era. Think about consumer technologies and products. Cloud technologies went mainstream in many areas – email, photo sharing, social networks, video streaming. PLM cloud revolution is moving forward these days as well. Vendors are applying different strategies. Two main disputed topics – security and availability, will be resolved sooner or later. Today, you still have time to get prepared to a new level of access, openness, mobility and ease of PLM cloud adoption.
PLM business models
Customers’ demand is to have predictable business models that will allow to PLM to grow in organizations. Today, PLM business models cannot scale to the level of enterprise and beyond. You can hear lots of discussion about that. To provide simple and affordable pricing models is a next challenge in front of CAD/PLM vendors. It won’t happen fast. To change revenue model is one of the most challenging part for every organization. At the same time, I don’t see any other ways to make PLM for everyone.
The value of small communities
The idea of communities is going mainstream in social networking and media. PLM companies and few startup companies tried to apply it to engineers, manufacturing companies and product development. It had their successes and failures. There are few Facebook-copycats developed by startups and established PLM/ERP vendors. I believe, it was a right step for 2012. However, thinking about longer terms, the value of these communities is limited. PLM companies will have to explore the value of small communities focused on specific vertical, industry, segment, etc. These small communities will have a lot of impact and potential in the future.
How to build PLM open data?
The era of data exchange is about to end. No industry can survive under such a huge amount of data translators and data modeling best practices. PLM vendors need to discover a growing world of shared vocabularies. Dublin core, Freebase, Good Relations, RDFS, SKOS, SIOC and others. To leverage open vocabularies will be extremely important in order to build connected PLM services.
What is my conclusion? The world of manufacturing, engineering and product development is changing. It is not as fast as consumer world and web. In my view, many manufacturers are holding back now their plans about the future development of PLM initiatives. My favorite quote of Nathan Myhrvold (ex CTO of Microsoft) – If you want to have a great future you have to think about it in the present, because when the future’s here you won’t have the time. Manufacturing and product development is in the early beginning of adopting curve of technologies and methods developed by web during last two decades. It will take time to transform and adapt it to fit enterprise companies need, but once it came, "new PLM" will stay with us long time.
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