Wish me a happy anniversary: I’ve been writing about the PLM industry for 10 years, with 3 different software vendors (5, counting M&A). But in that decade, I had yet to see the promise of “one platform for the entire product lifecycle” fulfilled. Until Aras. And, as it turns out, one platform makes all the difference.
In Search of a Nimble Platform.
You can tell existing technologies aren’t cutting it when you hear about so many companies pursuing “digital transformation.” If they had gotten it right, would they be seeking to transform today—to wrangle data and processes free from legacy systems with brittle integrations across mismatched architectures? According to one survey, 52% of CIOs are seeking “more nimble platforms” to respond to growing market unpredictability.
“Nimble” has a very specific meaning—the speed and agility needed to change directions easily—and change seems to be prerequisite to attaining tomorrow’s product and business strategies. Think: artificial intelligence; products connected to each other, to products that cross industries, and to the cloud; new competitors entering markets seemingly on a daily basis. There may as well be a signpost for OEMs that reads, “Speed and agility needed ahead.”
But what happens if you get the next step in your digital transformation wrong? “Instant legacy”: another rigid, unchangeable platform, locking away your data and processes into one prescribed way of working: flexibility hampered, agility killed, changes denied. Strategic initiatives set back. You’ve heard “digital transformation is not a choice but a necessity”? Keep reading, and you’ll find that, “Up to 84% of digital transformation projects fail”. At this point in the article, I picture that wrinkly old villain at the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, just as he crumbles up and blows away: “He chose … poorly.” The reward may be great, but the risk is even greater.
How Does Aras Get It Right?
Given my last decade in this industry, I thought I’d use this opportunity to look forward to the next one. A 2018 Oliver Wyman research paper, Engineering 2030: Six Megatrends that Will Shape Engineering, introduces six trends—3 pairs of seemingly contrasting directions, both of which engineering needs to achieve for success in its next 10 years of growth. But maybe they only sound contradictory because, in my past experience, legacy PLM systems built on multiple architectures, with brittle integrations spanning them, can’t handle them both well.
If these are the realities for engineering teams in the next 10 years, PLM should be doing them right today. Let’s examine how one PLM platform to own the end-to-end product lifecycle can help you achieve Engineering 2030.
1- Breadth and depth: Open ecosystems for work … and polarization of skills. According to the research, companies use open ecosystems for work in 50% of projects due to outsourcing expertise in embedded software, cloud technology, AI, cybersecurity, and more. And this need will only grow by 2030, they predict. Even companies bringing these functions in-house will outsource legacy work—still necessitating increased openness with partners.
At the same time, they write, engineers’ skillsets are growing narrower as domains deepen due to product complexity. The rise in specialized roles for systems engineering and systems architecture coincides with the “robotization of detailed design tasks” (up to 25% of engineering work will be automated by 2030, they predict), meaning that both specialized knowledge and sophisticated tools must be incorporated into increasingly open, collaborative projects.
- Only Aras offers platform agility. With one platform architecture to support the entire product lifecycle, Aras builds an unbroken digital thread—end-to-end, concept through service—with:
* Complete, accurate, and actionable data extended to every stakeholder.
* Unique security, access, and user experiences for internal and external teams.
* Openness and interoperability to support integration with tools from any domain.
* Access and action to shape the digital thread in the tools and experiences users prefer.
* Coordinated changes across teams, for a faster, easier, more agile response to change.
2- Focus and heterogeneity: Customer-centric design … and increasing engineering tools. Despite expanding domain knowledge and teams, companies must get laser-focused on customers’ needs to succeed. “60% of outperforming companies intensively collaborate with customers,” the study finds. Which is why it’s no mistake that, with the increase of embedded software in products, agile development—the constant evolution of requirements in response to customer needs—is now including not only software but also products.
Tightening the relationship with the customer “shortens the release cycle by up to half,” the research cites, while accelerating companies’ strategic advantage through a vital transformation to customer-centric products and features. If “increasing the number of tools for systems engineering and PDM” sounds like a contradiction in a more agile environment, the authors point to an answer: enabling the seamless integration of these tools is the trick to reducing design cycle time by +50%.
- Only Aras offers process agility: Process agility across the platform—or, the ability to change the technology at will when new processes, data types, tools, and teams are needed—is only realized in Aras’ open platform architecture, where you can:
* Configure processes and experiences easily, with a low-code, drag-and-drop front end.
* Build new applications using the same platform services and modeling engine we use.
* Share data seamlessly across your new or customized applications and ours.
* Your new processes and data become a part of your digital thread: end to end, no limits.
* Customize all you want, and upgrade Aras anyway: every version, guaranteed.
3- More data, more flexibly: Increased product data to optimize designs … and agile digital processes. Never before has data been so abundant―and so useless. Making so much data useful across teams in a coordinated way—separating the signal from the noise so teams can make improvements—is critical to identifying the product upgrades, new features, and next-generation offerings that will deliver the experiences customers want in the next 10 years and beyond. As the research states, the potential has perhaps never been higher (equipment manufacturers could gain $10B / year from IOT-derived improvements) … but neither have the stakes: “If we don’t create data,” they quote one CTO in the Aerospace industry as saying, “we won’t survive.”
But “digital” is not just about data, it’s about processes: Engineering organizations will have to kill their processes, cites one survey respondent, to make a leap in efficiency. Digital data and digital processes are about to collide in new waves of efficiency “driven by greater cross-functional integration,” the authors write. To take efficiency to the next level, accurate data must be available for use not just across new teams, but across new, automated processes and at such an accelerated pace that “overwhelming” would not be an incorrect characterization of the task to come.
- Only Aras offers one platform for end-to-end product information. The right choices in product development are driven by an understanding of how well your products meet your customers’ needs. This starts in concept and ends in operation—which is why one platform is essential to:
* Connect requirements with lifecycle data: parts, processes, even operation and service.
* Provide visibility back to requirements, for insight as to where they can be improved.
* Maintain the configuration of every fielded product to ensure accurate Digital Twins.
* Manage each Digital Twin with its common Digital Thread for better analysis and reuse.
* Ensure that data and insights from Digital Twins have a place to land: with the teams, processes, and tools across the lifecycle that need it as part of the Digital Thread.
Aras: One Platform to Own the Lifecycle. Strategic agility—the means to learn from and use your data in new ways—relies on improved flexibility: the opportunity to add new types of data, new stakeholders, new technology domains, and new tools to continually improve the processes that deliver products in a coordinated way across teams. Own your data, your processes―even the platform that delivers it―by changing what you need to change, when you need to change it, to support your business strategies.
Future-proof your strategy for the next decade―and the next―and advance your PLM platform to handle Engineering 2030 and beyond. Read how in my latest eBook, Own the Lifecycle: Sustainable Business Transformation, and let’s disrupt some markets together.