The PLM market continues to evolve rapidly, due to the product, demand, and market complexity that exists, as well as 3rd Platform Technologies such as cloud. During this evolution over the past 10 years, there has been much discussion around the “democratization” of PLM and product innovation.
In particular, I see three phases of product innovation democratization that have emerged, leading to the next generation of PLM, a product innovation platform:
- Democratization of 3D design: Getting design input from all stakeholders including marketing, supply, partners, and extending design to customers for their input with the goal of attaining the optimal design that meets customer needs.
- Democratization of PLM processes: This includes ideation, development, visualization, manufacturing, and involving non-engineers into these processes. Tying these processes together and opening them up to the global internal and external development team has been necessary to address the aforementioned complexity.
- Democratization of data: Data is the engine of innovation, from customers, supply chain, manufacturing, and connected products. This rapid sharing of information needs to happen to achieve a high performing product innovation platform, and to leverage data for competitive advantage.
Autodesk has long preached about the importance of sharing 3D design tools with entire development team, not only designers. Increasingly over the past 3+ years, it has also moved to democratize product development processes, with the advent of PLM360, their cloud based PLM system, and the democratization of data with its SeeControl acquisition for IoT based data analytics.
Now the company is bringing these pieces together with its recent announcement of a product innovation platform. The company’s goal with this development is to offer their software tools on the same platform to support the “design, make, and use” of products. Fusion 360 remains their core set of CAD/CAM/CAE tools and foundation of its product innovation platform, while PLM 360 is now called “Fusion Lifecycle”, and SeeControl renamed to “Fusion Connect”. Autodesk’s set of cloud based Fusion offerings can be combined into a platform on which customers can conceive, design, engineer, produce, and connect to products.
The opportunity for providing a holistic PLM offering on the cloud remains strong among small to midsize companies, and is growing with large companies as well. In the short term, large manufacturers likely will adopt PLM in the cloud for specific scenarios such as design review, quality management, and supplier collaboration, and maintain their native data on premise (i.e. hybrid) – it’s why other PLM vendors like Aras, Dassault Systemes, PTC, and Siemens are successful offering their PLM platforms in this flexible approach, depending on the customer need.
We think large manufacturers, however, will increasingly consider additional cloud scenarios to support PLM over the next 12-24 months – putting companies like Autodesk and Arena Solutions that have 100% cloud offerings, in a good position to win new business outright or be a complement to existing PLM systems.We’ll continue to watch the emergence of product innovation platforms over the next year and beyond, and the effect of cloud technology on this trend. As always, I welcome your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.