Strategies of the Major PLM Vendors 2016+


As part of our ongoing coverage of the PLM and engineering software markets, we stay in touch with as many vendors as we can to understand their strategic direction and how it impacts their customers. This post shares our latest published coverage of the vendors, and provides a bit of insight into where we see the market transitioning this year. We hope that these posts are helpful, but please feel free to contact us (or comment) if you’re interested in our thoughts on other vendors.

The Source of our Perspective

We don’t like to pretend we’re smarter than anyone else in our market. The engineering software community including customers, consultants, and other analyst firms are chock full of smart people! We are fortunate, however, to have a unique perspective on the enterprise and engineering software industries.

  • We have backgrounds in engineering, management consulting, implementation, product management/marketing, and even software development.
  • We get to speak with vendor executives, product managers, developers, and others that make the decisions on the future of their products and product lines.
  • We get invited to open meetings that include the press and customers, but we’re also frequently briefed in confidence. Of course we can’t share any confidential information or we would never be invited back, but it does help us gain a broader perspective.
  • Beyond what the vendors are saying, we get to speak with their users. These are the R&D, Engineering, Program Management, Product Development, IT leaders, and executive teams that use the software. This grounds the demos and presentations with a view into real world implementations. We also have strong relationships with consulting firms that are intimately involved in implementations.

Our view, however, is just one of many. The previous series generated some great discussions both on our site and in the “blogosphere.” Please share your views!

The PLM Market in 2016+

So what’s happening at the highest level? PLM is going through a more significant transformation this year than I predicted:

  • We are witnessing a transition from standalone PLM, CAD, CAM, and CAE tools to Integrated Innovation Platforms that provide a holistic, integrated approach spanning from conceptual design through service and support. This isn’t a new thing, but it is accelerating faster than I expected
  • More manufacturers and vendors are beginning the transition to the Cloud (although it’s still early days for many)
  • IoT and the Industrial Internet opportunities, along with Industry 4.0, are dramatically reshaping our industry
  • We continue to see alternate approaches to managing product development processes and product data
  • The shift to smarter, systems-oriented products is driving the need for tighter integration between traditional application areas like Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) and PLM
  • Vendors are continuing to bridge the gap between design and manufacturing
  • Vendors are continuing their industry specialization

Current and Planned Coverage

Companies I would ideally like to cover in this series include the following, but are limited based on their willingness to share (in a couple of cases) and my ability to find time to publish what I learn:

  • 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 – (sorry!)
    • Process-specific PLM players
    • Product Portfolio Management (PPM) specialists
    • Design tool (CAD, CAM, etc.) specialists without PLM offerings – but see The Strategic Visions of CAD/CAE Vendors for some of Michelle Boucher’s perspectives.
    • Simulation (CAE) specialists without PLM offerings
    • Requirements Management (RM) specialists
    • Configuration Management (CM) specialists
    • MRO / SLM specialists
    • ALM specialists
    • Business that focus primarily on AEC (architecture, engineering, and construction) versus product engineering and manufacturing


OK, who did I miss? Who should I prioritize? What do I need to know?


  1. I am seeing Logistic Management solutions (i.e., GT Nexus) expanding their solutions from product development, Logistics Management, and end of lifecycle. What have you seen? I agree that standalone applications in a product lifecycle are becoming more integrated. Thanks for your comments.

    • Thank you Carmen,
      I haven’t seen the SCM/SCP vendors expand to address the current scope of PLM, although they clearly have a lot ot offer to improve profitability in the product lifecycle.We are starting to see some integration / extensions of suites that cover supply chain in PLM, for example some of the Autodesk PLM 360 deployments. It will also be interesting to see what Dassault Systemes does with their Quintiq acquisition.

    • Oleg,
      Thanks for your feedback. I haven’t been briefed by PropelPLM, who should I speak with?

      Fashion PLM isn’t missed, it’s just out of scope. There’s only so much we can write about. We’re paying attention to it, but not actively writing about it at the moment.

      I removed SolidEdge SP this year because I don’t see it being actively promoted, happy to add it again if I hear differently.


  2. Jim,

    I don’t know if this is relevant here but recPLM ( is a methodology which could be implemented on any PLM tool listed above assuming it is configurable (i.e. you can extend its data model).

    I have defined recPLM because most (if not all) PLM tools do not propose any product development methodology.


  3. Jim,

    On a number occasions I am seeing the discussions around CRM & PLM integrations, and their respective roles and touch points. This is driving me to understand how we play with CRM firms in areas of CTO and ETO processes.

  4. Speaking only as an individual, with a bit of speculation and intentional vagueness: Presently, 13-04-2016. Wondering if there is a consensus within the world’s largest engineering corporation, SIEGY, about pathforward for recent acquisition Polaris (ALM). for example, integration, deployment, training, support etc. So many human and organizational interfaces for the duration.

    Separately, to state the obvious: tools are only as good as the humans who use them.

    Separately, greatly value this blog. I lurk often. Initial post herein. Always seek to avoid a misunderstanding.

    At your convenience,

    Leo Henton, Aerospace configuration management engineer, LION, greater Seattle. On linkedin.

  5. Hello,
    There is also beCPG which is an open source PLM for the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) industries, with a focus on Food & Beverage industry and Cosmetic industry:

    beCPG solution provides :
    – Products repository
    – Formulation module
    – Report generator and BI
    – Project management and workflows
    – Customer complaints and CAPA


  6. Jim –
    It’s baffled me for some time why the major PLM players ignore the fuzzy front end of innovation (FEI) in their vision. Tooling for empathic listening (e.g. enthographic research), creative problem-solving and human-centered design (inclusive of Design Thinking) is a logical precursor to the tidier back-end of innovation (BEI) where PLM has traditionally begins and plays out. Perhaps abductive thinking is too far removed from PLM’s predominant scientific approaches? AutoDesk may be the lone exception here perhaps due to their embrace of cloud solutions and wider footprint across sectors like entertainment. Would love to hear your thoughts/theories on this.
    Many thx!

    • Joe,
      Thanks for bringing this up. I have a couple of theories on why PLM hasn’t focused as much on this. Clearly, it makes sense from the overall mission and purpose of PLM. In other words, they can add value to their customers this way. So the only reason I can think that PLM vendors haven’t prioritized it as much as other areas (for the most part) must be a financial decision.

      I think part of the reason is lack of maturity of innovation processes, software, and the market. There is no one, big “innovation software company” that the big guys can acquire. It’s also still a bit of a fragmented area in terms of agreement of what processes should be supported, at least compared to NPD processes, engineering processes, and even further downstream into manufacturing and service.

      I think the other part is user count. If a large PLM vendor is trying to prioritize their footprint they often have to think about “how many people will use this?” to get a return on their investment. Even though it’s strategic, it’s typically a smaller population. Or a large population of very infrequent users. So that makes it hard to monetize. That also might explain why there are not large innovation software providers to acquire. That makes it harder for PLM customers to get a return on their investment. I’ve talked to the vendors and I know they want to do it. But can they justify it?

      Lastly, I would say that they have all made some steps in the innovation direction. You mentioned Autodesk, I would suggest that the other one with a major view on the front end is Dassault Systemes. With Netvibes and Exalead they have some nice tools they can use to listen to the voice of the customer. But will that get the lion’s share of investment? In the underlying posts I point out other directions, like Siemens investing further into manufacturing or PTC investing in the IoT, that are major investments. Sometimes even really big companies have to prioritize.

      Those are my theories, but I can’t say for sure. I still expect to see more out of them in this area, but I expected them to be further down this path already.

      Good question to get my brain fired up on a Monday morning, thanks! I’ll get some more coffee and share more if I think of anything. I hope you are having a great day.



  1. […] Product Data Management (PDM) systems focus on product definition, design and use. Through the product’s lifecycle, a vast amount of data is required to develop, manufacture, deliver, support and service the product. Tracking product requirements, making 3D models and drawings available to non-designers, distributing product specifications, releasing BOMs or tracking part changes are examples of things we can do in PDM systems. Siemens, Dassault, Autodesk, Aras or PTC are among the main PDM software providers. […]

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