The front end of innovation (ideation, early stage design) and supplier collaboration are two PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) processes that have been deployed in the cloud by some manufacturers, and in Methods and Practices: 2015 Product and Service Innovation Survey — Ensuring Quality Is the Primary Goal (IDC Manufacturing Insights #MI256998, June 2015), these two areas remain a focus. Furthermore, quality management is the top overall PLM process that manufacturers want to deploy in the cloud; it also ranks as the top overall initiative.
Why is quality moving to the cloud? IDC Manufacturing Insights thinks this is primarily because, to achieve exceptional product quality, you need openness and speed in your quality processes. If you have a quality issue with your product, you want it surfaced and acted upon as quickly as possible, whether via a customer, a partner, an engineering manager, or a service technician. Deploying a quality management system in the cloud increases the ability of an organization to sense and quickly address a product issue to maintain high quality and customer satisfaction. Further, with the available processing power through a Hadoop framework in a cloud deployment, manufacturers are able to scale the management and analytics of massive amounts of data created by connected products, whether that information is quality, performance, usage, or service related. Simply put, quality is so critically important that manufacturers are choosing the deployment environment that expedites action.
Security and risk management is also a top initiative in the cloud, which IDC Manufacturing Insights thinks is in part due to growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) and connected products that create a large amount of data, which needs to be securely transferred to the OEM for troubleshooting and/or feedback on product performance and usage. This is also, however, driven by the need to secure any product development collaboration that is taking place, whether it is regarding quality or to get feedback on a new design. Security has been one of the biggest inhibitors to cloud adoption (and will continue to be a determining factor), so it makes sense that this would rank high in our survey results as a priority simultaneous with cloud services.
But the inhibitor to a manufacturer rolling out a PLM solution in the cloud is not only security; conversations with manufacturers reveal another dynamic at play: recent and current investments in on-premise PLM implementations preclude many large manufacturers from considering a move to cloud. Manufacturers ask, "Why would they throw away the enormous investment in time and money they've already made in their on-premise installations?" The benefits of cloud PLM, to these manufacturers, are not yet clear enough to outweigh their current investment.
However, small manufacturers will continue to adopt PLM completely in the cloud because the economics are in their favor: they are probably using office tools for product development and therefore do not to have an enormous investment in place for PLM. And these manufacturers need a global system for collaboration and design that can scale and is secure enough: any benefits they reap from better collaboration, sharing PLM data with their internal and extended product development team, and faster time to market far outweigh the perceived security risks they face.
The benefits of cloud PLM are many, including lower initial and total cost, faster and more frequent upgrades, easier collaboration, and good scalability. These benefits need to be weighed against the existing investments you have made in your PLM systems and the need to secure your IP. Early-stage innovation, design review, supplier collaboration, and quality management are all processes that can benefit from a cloud deployment and be a complement to existing PLM (on-premise or cloud) deployments.
How are you leveraging the cloud for PLM? As always, I welcome your thoughts at jhojloidc.com.