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PLM_PlatformMany of us with careers in the PLM economy fail to step back often enough to fully appreciate just how extraordinary this wide and deep technology market is and has always been dating back to its origins.

To some market observers, PLM is considered just another enterprise-IT pillar that sits alongside—if not below in their thinking—the ERP, CRM, and SCM markets. They might be surprised to learn that investments in PLM-related software and services as reported by CIMdata in 2014 are $35B globally, which begins to rival ERP spending. But beyond that most basic size ranking, the PLM market differs in far more structural ways that can’t fully be valued by dollars spent, as in other markets that have historically captured the attention of CxOs or the favor of industry media.

The most substantial difference is that the benefits of PLM as a business strategy cannot be realized by a single technology or system, much less by one software product or solution provider. Instead, PLM is enabled by a dynamic network and open platform of people, processes, software, data, and services that support the entire product lifecycle. This interconnected ecosystem spans the functions of ideation, innovation, portfolio management, engineering design, simulation, virtual prototyping, costing, manufacturing, test and quality, service and maintenance, repurposing, remanufacturing, retirement, and recycling.

There are dozens of technology subspaces and market segments that support this lifecycle with an ever-expanding lexicon of acronyms including: CAD, CAM, CAE, EDA, S&A, CM, DMfg, MBSE, EQMS, PDM, PPM, PCM, Viz, EIM, ALM, and SLM. CIMdata reports on most of these segments and has identified over 1200 solution providers—large and small, new or old, general and niche—that populate the application subspaces. Yet along another axis of the ecosystem are all the industries in which PLM has been deployed, often with their own set of rapidly evolving technologies and focused-solution providers

Nearly all the application spaces in the PLM ecosystem have their own rich lifecycle history of entrepreneurial innovation, disruption, adoption, evolution, consolidation, and regeneration. For more than thirty years CIMdata has witnessed and written about many of these success stories. We should all be proud to be part of the PLM ecosystem, as there is simply no other technology market that has delivered as much innovation for the benefit of customers and the global economy, and that now promises to tackle some of the greatest challenges facing the sustainability of our planet’s much larger ecosystem.

This year’s PLM Market & Industry Forums will examine the platformization of PLM, and how it promises to enable innovation that is far more sustainable and scalable than in the past, without requiring much heroic effort by users or solution providers. Charting a vision, architecture, and roadmap for an inherently resilient and robust platform that accommodates the lifecycle of not just the product, but also the orthogonal lifecycles of supporting technologies, application software, and solution providers is no small challenge. This is especially true when incorporating all the disruptions in functional capabilities, providers, or delivery models that are often absent from business projections—as if they only rarely occur!

For the best proof that widely adopted  platformization is achievable, we can look at how many PLM solution providers have already organized themselves to be more open, and are collaborating for the benefit of their customers and investors alike. Realizing that no one product or provider can satisfy all of their customers’ requirements, the PLM industry offers many examples of the power of innovative collaboration where the advancements in software and services of one firm are used and amplified by the collective hive. The global collaborative ecosystem that connects and fuels all the participants—software providers, users and user groups, thought leader visionaries, consultancies, system integrators, resellers, investors, subject-matter experts, market analysts, and conferences like CIMdata’s own PLM Market & Industry Forum—is truly unique and priceless. It separates PLM from every other technology market, and demonstrates why creating sustainable business platforms of innovation is already one giant step closer to reality.

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