There is a new cool buzzword in the PLM universe called “low code”. If you didn’t hear about it yet, don’t worry about it. Things just get started. Last year I asked if Low code will save PLM from future customization and make PLM more open. I took examples from two companies bringing the notion of “low code development”, The first was Siemens PLM with their recent acquisition Mendix. Another one was Aras with a content studio. Aras and Siemens are representing a slightly different approach but attacking the same problem – the need to create a flexible data management combined with very specific process requirements.
While PLM companies are acquiring new companies or rebranding their existing technologies to look like a modern low code environment, PLM vendors can get an unexpected challenge from Amazon and maybe some other companies.
My attention was caught by the recent product launch – Amazon Honeycode. Check out the video. I found it very remarkable by their simplicity and ease of use.
Amazon Honeycode is of course not alone in the game of low-code or no-code environments. The idea to provide a robust and effortless custom development environment is a dream for many companies and ITs. The current Amazon Honeycode is still not very mature and feature-rich. But, I will give it some time to get more functions. And this is how it can become interesting.
Here is an interesting passage from Business Insider article:
“Many teams try to use simple spreadsheets as a Band-Aid to manage these tasks, but spreadsheets lack true database-like capabilities to sort and filter data, make collaboration with others hard to do, and are difficult to use on mobile devices,” Amazon wrote in a statement announcing the product. “Customers try to solve for the static nature of spreadsheets by emailing them back and forth, but all of the emailing just compounds the inefficiency because email is slow, doesn’t scale, and introduces versioning and data syncing errors.”
Many PLM solutions are solving very similar problems by helping companies to escape Excels and spreadsheets to manage product information and processes.
Low-code (or no-code) is an interesting trend, which made me think about the opportunity for PLM companies to open up their data and connect it to a variety of no-code environments like Amazon Honeycode. You can say, it is not a big deal, because a variety of middleware and application builders are around already for many years. You might be right, but what can make Honeycode different is the IT and engineers’ acceptance of Amazon, horizontal integration, and the robustness of the integrations. The challenge for many PLM vendors is to accept openness. Remember, an old fashion PLM is run on the belief in data locking as a foundational business model.
Amazon Honeycode is an interesting opportunity for true SaaS PLM companies that can open up their data models and allow integration with the AWS Honeycode environment to build custom workflow and applications. SaaS PLM holds valuable data about the product, data structures, and design. At the same time, Amazon Honeycode can provide easy orchestration tools for end-users and IT.
What is my conclusion?
Infrastructure providers like Amazon are looking at how to provide even more tools for end-user developers and IT teams. These tools can become a method to streamline processes and create a better data foundation for product information. The combination of AWS based SaaS PLM with tools like Honeycode can be a powerful combination for manufacturing companies and engineers to build more robust processes. Just my thoughts…
Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing cloud based bill of materials and inventory management tool for manufacturing companies, hardware startups, and supply chain. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.