Manufacturing landscape and technology are changing fast these days. Most of existing PLM platforms were developed 15+ years ago. Therefore, a question about new PLM platforms is getting more vocal. What will be a foundation for that platform? How existing implementations and technologies evolve? What will be a role of standards in a future PLM platforms.
Engineering.com article Product Innovation Platform: Plug’n’play in next generation PLM – TV-report caught my attention yesterday with the discussion about what will become a future PLM platform. Verdi Ogewell speaks about multiple dimensions of future PLM platform – federation, standards, behaviors as well as brings opinions of customers on how they see future of PLM platforms. The key question debated in the article was raised in the beginning and related to “single system”. Here is my favorite passage:
Can a single system cover everything from product realization to distribution, from services to smart products and maintenance? There are certainly those who thinks so. Dassault Systèms, Siemens PLM and PTC have set their sights on an ambitious vision of the PLM market. But there are sceptical voices too, like analyst Gartner’s Marc Halpern and CIMdata’s Peter Bilello. “No, this will not be,” they asserted during the recent PDT Europe conference in Paris where the main theme was, “Shaping the PLM platform of the future”.
It made me think about future PLM platforms in the context of marketing and technological dynamics. PLM market is very competitive. At the same time, most of the decisions usually have very long time impact. Therefore every customer win is long term win. In my old article – PLM platform wars: who is right or who is left?, I’ve been talking about ‘openness’ as a strategic advantage. In my view, it is still very important factor. Customers dislike “closed” systems. From technological and business standpoint, what can become a foundation for a new platform? Navigate to my blog -The foundation for next PLM platforms. I outlined four potential developments that can form a new PLM platform – (1) model based system engineering, (2) unbundled 3D service, (3) product development standard, (3) database technology and web infrastructure. These things can interplay together.
At the same time I can clearly see two major trends in establishment of new PLM platforms – (1) single platform trend; (2) federated platform. I want to elaborate a bit more about these options.
1- Single platform. For many years it was a strategy for almost every PLM vendor. Seriously, I don’t believe somebody realistically can think these days about single vendor providing a complete set of tools for OEM manufacturing company. Nevertheless, vendors are developing tools and acquiring technologies to create the most comprehensive product suites. At the same time, a single platform is a high risk for manufacturers. Customers are trying to diversify their investment between multiple vendors and products.
2- Federated platform. Customers and vendors are often articulating ‘federation’ as a very desired state of future platforms. Here is a thing. Federation is a good vision. The implementation is hard and expensive. For last few decades, PLM vendors invested huge amount of resources in development and implementation of enterprise integration middlewares, technologies and projects. To implement federation is quite expensive and time consuming. I can see some technological promise here coming from modern web and cloud technologies, but taking into account existing enterprise assets it is still highly sophisticated task.
What is my conclusion? Growing complexity and longevity of manufacturing products are raising questions about future PLM platforms. One of the the biggest problems is set of conflicting constraints. Customers are afraid to risk and put all product information into a single vendor systems. At the same time, federated platform is more miracle and vision rather than reality that you can get and implement tomorrow. Standard-based approaches are promising, but slow to ramp up. And, last but not least, new platform ROI is a biggest issue. Imagine, we have a future federated PLM innovation platform built as a result of multiple vendor effort and leveraging existing industry standard. To migrate existing disparate customer environments into a new platform will be multi-year project with very high cost and questionable ROI. I have no doubt, time is coming to rethink the concept of PLM platform. How to do so is a big question. Can manufacturing industry collectively afford it? This is a another good question to ask. Just my thoughts…