It is no secret that large companies have been slow to move their PLM systems to the cloud. While these same companies were aggressively adopting new cloud strategies for other enterprise systems, PLM systems remained on premise—keeping their valuable IP safe and secure in their organization’s own data centers. There were several reasons for the slow adoption, ranging from security concerns to doubts about the cloud performance when moving high levels of data across the PLM ecosystems around the globe, but the success of cloud technologies across other sectors has recently led to slow but consistent growth for PLM software vendors.
Among industry professionals, there has always been a sense that the PLM move to the cloud was not a matter of if, but a matter of when. Early on, insiders realized the benefits that the cloud offers would align well with what PLM systems are designed to accomplish. As other types of enterprise applications, like Salesforce in the CRM space, showed excellent outcomes using the cloud, earlier concerns for PLM on the cloud were being mitigated. At the same time, the benefits of moving to the cloud, as demonstrated through these applications, were quickly validated and industry analysts comfortably predicted a mass migration for PLM was imminent. But when?
The Year of Unpredictability
While many aspects of business may be predictable, 2020 was a case study in unpredictability. No need to go into detail here since so much has been written about 2020 but, suffice it to say, the events of the past year changed the nature of how organizations operate and how employees and other contributors interact with technology and each other. The events of 2020 compelled companies to aggressively pursue new digital transformation strategies to ensure their technology was robust enough to quickly adapt to changing supply chains and manufacturing processes. To enable high expectations of resiliency, new strategies like digital threads are being utilized, connecting critical data from diverse systems throughout a company’s development process. The digital thread delivers better traceability, improved compliance, complex simulations, design improvements, and supports many other use cases.
Companies Moving their PLM Forward
As companies focus on new, resilient strategies, it has become clear that the cloud offers many technical advantages to organizations. For example:
- Ubiquitous access to the cloud allows users anywhere in the world easy access to environments
- Use of cloud services to help connect data together from different systems and locations
- Virtually unlimited capacity eliminates hardware management and procurement for the business and significantly improves performance
- State of the art data centers from major cloud providers
Beyond technological advancements, solution providers have also created new SaaS offerings of their software so businesses can remove themselves from the day-to-day responsibilities of managing their production and development environments. The big question for organizations as they implement their digital transformations is: can the SaaS solution meet their specific requirements? Since many SaaS solutions strictly limit the ability to customize the environment, will a SaaS solution provide the flexibility to deliver exactly what they need?
The question of using a PLM solution out of the box (OOTB) versus building customizations, was going on even before the cloud was an option and is still taking center stage when choosing a solution. The difference between today’s decision makers and those of years ago is the decision makers of today have lived with their existing PLM system for many years and have a much better sense of what it’s like to be limited by an OOTB solution as opposed to using a resilient platform that can be regularly upgraded by their vendor.
While many companies are now ready and willing to move their PLM into the cloud, they are also re-evaluating their current PLM platform to see if the solution can support their future vision as well as adapt to unforeseen changes. It’s not just about the software any longer. Moving to the cloud creates opportunities to leverage new types of service offerings that have major impacts on the way their PLM environment will be built, managed, and supported. These factors will determine the success of their new digital transformation strategies.
Find out More at the September 23rd Webinar
The events of 2020 and 2021 have caused many companies to re-evaluate their PLM systems and environment as they recognize that these systems will serve as their digital transformation backbone for years to come. Questions on the flexibility of the PLM platform, the use of the cloud, and even who manages the environments, are all under discussion as PLM leaders use their experience to determine the right solution moving forward.
James White, VP Digital Innovation Research, at Tech-Clarity will soon be publishing a paper on this topic based on conversations he had with several major companies. Join James and Mark Reisig, VP of Product Marketing, Aras Corporation, on September 23, 2021 – 11 a.m. EDT for a webinar where they’ll be discussing how today’s manufacturers are leveraging cloud PLM to support their digital transformation initiatives.