The decade of 2010 was the time when industrial companies discovered the power of cloud solutions. For the last ten years, CAD and PLM vendors have established and developed platforms and tools capable of solving engineering and manufacturing problems using new types of tools and technologies.
I was talking about PLM IT technological evolution last week in my presentation at VPE/PLM Swiss Symposium in my presentation From Product Lifecycle to Network Platforms”. Here is a slide from my presentation where I speak about the evolution of PLM IT. It started from corporate servers focused on file management, moving to the cloud servers capable of using virtualized infrastructure and hosted systems, later moved to SaaS and multi-tenant systems.
Manufacturing and construction companies are on the growing adoption curve of SaaS technologies moving forward from legacy databases, old PDM/PLM solutions to new SaaS platforms. Which made me think about what will be coming next. In my presentation, I was talking about connected systems and Data as Services. In my article today, I want to elaborate more about future trajectories I can see in the development of PLM systems beyond cloud PLM.
1- Capturing Data Of Physical Objects and Processes
Many processes we are familiar with today were a result of the decades of digital transformation of analog data assets into digital. Take as an example 30 years of driving process transformation, which is started from digital maps and then slowly, but surely digitizing an entire driving experience – maps, traffics, roads, services, etc. The same process is now happening for many manufacturing businesses, component manufacturers, industrial objects, and others. Connected products, smart cities, autonomous vehicles, IoT, and Industry 4.0. These are elements of a bigger process where information is captured, accumulated, and used for creating new digital businesses.
2- Digitization of Supply Chain
Back a century ago, manufacturing companies were making everything in a single place from iron and glass to cars. This time is over. Modern products nowadays are created by hundreds of suppliers in dozens of global factories. The supply chain is a nervous system of modern manufacturing and industrial processes. The relationships between suppliers are fast transforming from analog transactions and isolated RFQ and contracts into digital and connected processes, which rely on digital information. Digital transformation of the supply chain is a process, which will bring a new type of business relationship between industrial companies relying on data and digital contracts.
3- Data As A Service
Manufacturing companies are realizing the power of data and software and moving fast to transform companies producing physical products into companies producing digital services relying on physical processes. This process started a long time ago when companies moved from selling tires and engines to miles and hours of product services. To make this transformation, companies will need to have data about products, how they are built, what they can do, how to maintain them, and many other pieces of information. To have this data will be a vital process needed to operate each manufacturing company and companies managing the data will become service providers in this new digital ecosystem.
What is my conclusion?
Data is the lifeblood of the digital infrastructure and quickly becoming one of the key elements in transitioning systems from analog processes to digital. Digital transformation of physical processes will make a huge amount of industrial data available via capturing information about processes and real physical objects. The process is started already with many connected devices and industrial processes and will continue to establish a completely digital supply chain where relationships will be fully transformed into digital contracts relying on analytics and data. Digital Twins will become an implementation model of data services and companies will be making information available on-demand with the ability to monetize data relationships. It will change the business model of licensed applications from selling software to selling data. Just my thoughts…
Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing a digital network-based platform that manages product data and connects manufacturers, construction companies, and their supply chain networks. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.