The PLM and engineering software market is as dynamic and innovative as ever. As 2013 draws to a close I want to share my perspective on what to expect from the major vendors in 2014 and beyond. Product innovation, product development, R&D, and engineering are top priorities in today’s manufacturers and each vendor has their unique take on how to best meet their customers’ needs. For anyone that thinks this is a boring or mature market, I challenge them to find two vendors who have the same solution footprint, or even two with the same definition of PLM beyond the surface level of “managing product lifecycles from cradle to grave” (which drives me mad because it doesn’t really mean anything).
Note: Please see the update to this post, Strategies of the Major PLM Vendors 2015+
The Source of my Perspective
I get the opportunity to attend a lot of conferences and speak with the leadership of most of the major vendors in the PLM and engineering software market. Whenever possible, I attend their user conferences so I can hear how manufacturers use the solutions alongside the vendor presentations on strategic vision. Many days I go from a keynote talking about the future to a user presentation on how a company met their struggle with a mundane (but critical) problem like configuration management. The vendors are painting the picture for the future and working on advanced topics like systems-level PLM and how collaboration changes in the age of the cloud and social media while their customers deal with the challenges of today. And as a recent discussion on LinkedIn (see comments for links to some interesting discussions) pointed out, many vendors are taking a fresh look at data access, search, and search based applications (SBA). How do you sort through it all? For me it’s about looking, listening, and asking the right questions.
As always, I don’t think being an analyst makes me any smarter than anybody else in the market, but I do think it offers me access and a unique vantage point to gain perspective of the market as a whole. I hope my observations help you shape your your views of the market, and I encourage you to share your insights.
Macro Level Thoughts on the PLM Market
So what do my conversations with manufacturers look like right now? I find companies in two major camps:
- Trying to figure out how to get product data under control. Sometimes they have no PDM or PLM, more often than not they have a few (or more)
- Working on advanced topics like how to manage product software development in the context of PLM or how to address conflict minerals regulations early in product design.
PLM is expanding in four dimensions:
- To more people
- Covering a richer view of the product
- Enabling more processes
- Supporting further up and down the product lifecycle.
But not everyone is taking advantage of the broadening capabilities. In short, manufacturers are all over the maturity map with PLM. I see what appears to be two clusters of companies on the “immature” and the “very mature” sides. What are vendors doing about that? Building in features and enhancing current products to meet the challenges of today, while keeping an eye on the future to make sure they have the solutions their leading customer need today and the rest will need in the future. It’s a tough balancing act. I will post a series of updates on the major vendors and some interesting alternatives. I hope you find them useful.
Companies I plan to cover in this series include:
- The Current Big Four – in alphabetical order, not playing any favorites
- The ERP Vendors – those that have a significant investment / footprint in PLM
- Others – this is a vibrant market with lots of solutions, including some interesting new players. Here is a thumbnail of a few. Some you might argue are not really “PLM” vendors. I am sure I will miss some and won’t provide enough detail on any here, but here is a quick recap. Some of the names might surprise you. Stay tuned.
- Categories not Planned in This Series – there is just too much to cover, I will try to cover them elsewhere.
- Apparel / softgoods specialty players – there are quite a few specialists in this area in addition to the major vendors that serve these customers.
- Process-specific PLM players
- Product Portfolio Management (PPM) specialists
- Design tool (CAD, CAM, etc.) specialists without PLM offerings
- Simulation (CAE) specialists without PLM offerings
- Requirements Management (RM) specialists
- Configuration Management (CM) specialists
- MRO / SLM specialists
- Business that focus primarily on AEC (architecture, engineering, and construction) versus product engineering and manufacturing
OK, who did I miss? What do you think I have right? What do you think I have wrong? Let me know and I will go learn more. I don’t consider my job as being the expert on everything, but I am fortunate to have access to a lot of the leaders in our industry.