My conversations with vendors and end users regarding what aspects of PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) will be adopted in the cloud by large companies usually ends with the proclamation:
"PLM will be deployed in a hybrid way for the foreseeable future, with customer and supplier facing collaboration in the cloud and product, IP, and design information on premise, behind the company firewall."
I agree, at least in the short term.
Usually the primary argument is there are too many risks inherent with sharing product data in the cloud, and there are established legacy design and PLM products that engineers are quite happy with that perform well for the complex designs and assemblies they are working on. But manufacturers also should consider:
What if those security and performance concerns of the cloud were not issues, and you could have as rich an experience designing and developing products as you could fielding and ranking new product ideas, and collaborating with suppliers?
What if you could accelerate open innovation by providing a design tool that can handle complex mechatronic assemblies in the automotive or machinery market, yet is flexible enough to design simple, but highly shaped products in the consumer products or medical device market?
What if you could respond more quickly to customer demand, or service connected products?
All of this for a lower overall total cost of ownership.
While I agree that large manufacturers are still reticent to put PLM completely in the cloud, I think it’s only a matter of time before this paradigm changes. In our recent report, IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Manufacturing Product and Service Innovation 2015 Predictions, we discussed our assertion that by 2016, 50% of new PLM initiatives will be cloud and subscription models. When small to midsize companies that use a CAD package and office tools to develop new products decide that their business needs PLM, they usually start with cloud, not really considering an on premise approach. It’s simply more affordable and easier to install for them. This is why Arena Solutions has been successful for 10+ years, and Autodesk’s PLM360 has taken off (that, and the fact that the company has an enormous install base of AutoCAD and Inventor users to mine).
PLM stalwarts Dassault, PTC, and Siemens, offer their products in the cloud, should a customer want to deploy all or a piece of PLM. As do Aras, Infor, Oracle, and SAP. For example, a large discrete manufacturer may want to deploy ideation and product portfolio management, as well as Supplier Relationship Management, in the cloud to foster rapid collaboration; but at the same time, keep CAD, PDM and quality management on premise. Particularly if they are in high regulated industries like medical device.
The recent beta product announcement of a Boston based cloud design startup caught my eye on the cloud CAD front: Onshape, started by the founder of Solidworks. It remains to be seen how one would integrate this to a full PLM offering, but the presumption is that this tie could be made just as multiple CAD solutions are integrated to PLM solutions in a typical on premise deployment. The Onshape announcement is eye opening, because it takes a core PLM process – design - heretofore looked at as a process that manufacturers historically want to keep on premise, and makes it completely accessible to the global development team, whether a customer, partner, supplier, or designer. Now that’s open innovation.
We will have more information about cloud usage and planned adoption for PLM, later this year. Until then, I welcome your thoughts and questions. firstname.lastname@example.org