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PLM: Changing with Technology to Stay Relevant

By Dick Weisinger

Traditional business software sellers are under siege as new technologies like Cloud Computing and Social Media continue to build momentum.  PLM is no exception and we are beginning to see changes in PLM functionality and the way in which it is deployed.  AutoDesk’s entrance into the Cloud PLM market last November may have been the tipping point.

On the Social Media side, we see that one of Gartner’s predictions from the 2012 Gartner Predicts research is that by 2014 the five largest PLM software providers will make social networking an integral part of their solution.

PLM, for example,  is no different than any other business application in that it could benefit from capabilities that are enabled from the cloud which include:

  • On-demand self-service
  • Ubiquitous network access == Access from anywhere
  • Resource pooling
  • High Availability
  • Rapid elasticity
  • Measured service

Gartner vice president and research analyst, Kimberly Harris-Ferrante, said that “Cloud computing and social media will continue to provide industries with new avenues for effective customer communication and engagement, facilitating increased revenue and sustainable interaction with key customers.  New technologies such as media tablets and advances in mobile will have a disruptive impact on many industries, requiring changes to existing processes and propelling business transformation.”

Cadalyst quotes PricewaterhouseCooper’s  Principal Technology Leader Tom Degarmo as explaining the benefits of cloud PLM as follows: “Cloud computing accelerates innovation and improves time-to-market successes and offers added flexibility within PLM applications. Overall it can improve connections across a company’s network of suppliers, time zones, and cultures. It enables an extendable enterprise.”

Arun Gopalakrishnan, Vice President of Arena Solutions, a cloud-based PLM provider, argues that “Cloud-based PLM solutions provide the same level of functionality as a traditional PLM application, can be accessed anywhere, are more accessible to suppliers and partners and are kept updated automatically. Additionally, cloud-based PLM solutions require a smaller initial investment and are much cheaper to maintain. And as more manufacturers sign up and more features become available, cloud-based solutions will continue to drive down the total cost of ownership in a continuous cycle.”

But Chuck Cimalore, President and CEO at Omnify Software, warns that “Product lifecycle management is a set of diverse business strategies, processes, and applications. To identify the right projects, processes, and problems that can be solved by introducing cloud-based PLM solutions can be a tall order when you factor in the importance of addressing ownership, location, and privacy/security issues.”

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