Surprisingly little has been heard about the subject of cloud PLM in the last few months. Might that be the calm before the storm? You get the impression that PLM vendors and many user companies are crouched at the starting line, waiting for the starting shot but don’t yet dare to extend their legs because they don’t want to risk jumping the gun. And that even though the seemingly endless coronavirus pandemic offers an ideal opportunity to start modernizing the now aging PLM landscapes and trying out one or two new things.
Trying out new things is perhaps not the right way to put it, because the cloud has been around for quite a while. And most companies are already making intensive use of it as infrastructure for their Office applications, ERP systems or CRM solutions. Cloud computing has become commonplace, as observed by the KPGM Cloud-Monitor 2021. Eight-two percent of companies in Germany make use of cloud solutions, a six-percent rise compared to the previous year. Growth in the use of public cloud offerings has even been a few percentage points higher.
Which is why I ask myself why we see so little of all this in the context of PLM. And what we can do to change this. Because most PLM experts and we here at PROSTEP are in agreement when it comes to the advantages of using PLM in the cloud – an assessment that has also been reinforced by the positive experiences reported by various pioneering users. And because we want to do our part when it comes to preaching the gospel of cloud PLM, we have drawn up a white paper on this subject and I very much recommend that you read it.
So much has been written about the benefits of the cloud in recent years that I will spare you another recitation of the various arguments here. However, I would like to draw attention to one point that appears to me to be extremely important and that is also emphasized in the white paper: Cloud applications permit a significantly more agile response to the many new requirements resulting from technological change, the trend towards smart products and the creation of new digital business models than conventional on-premise solutions. And they need considerably fewer IT resources in order to respond to these requirements.
Instead, let’s talk about the obstacles that block the path toward the PLM cloud and that still stop many companies from taking the first step. For example, the greatest obstacle is not the security concerns of users, which have dwindled considerably in recent years. It also does not lie in the limited possibilities for integrating cloud PLM with other enterprise applications, a restriction which admittedly still throws up a large number of questions. No, in my opinion, the greatest obstacle can be found in the existing PLM solutions, which are often strongly customized and are, to a certain extent, responsible for companies wanting to cling to what they already have.
In Germany, this tendency to want to persevere with existing solutions appears to be particularly strong because the use of PDM/PLM is more deep-seated here than in other countries. I can find no other way of explaining why the need to make up lost ground in the field of cloud PLM reported years ago by CIMdata and other market analysts has met with so sluggish a response, even though some PLM vendors have made considerable investments in cloud technology.
Although the majority of PLM vendors have interesting cloud offerings for new customers or emerging start-ups, they are clearly finding it difficult to convince their existing customers of the advantages of migrating to the cloud. This also has something to do with the fact that businesses still have a one-sided view of the cloud as an infrastructure issue and assess it primarily from a cost perspective. And in many cases, this perspective does not justify fast migration to the cloud because existing PLM solutions work well and possible savings come at the price of the additional outlay associated with cloud migration.
However, the decision to adopt cloud PLM is first and foremost a strategic orientation that focuses on future PLM requirements. We expect that cloud-based PLM capabilities will become a key element in sustainable PLM architectures. This is why the cloud and cloud PLM applications should be considered as options as early as the definition of the PLM strategy and corresponding development plan. We here at PROSTEP not only help customers develop appropriate strategies but are also able to provide them with active support when it comes to moving to the cloud thanks to our migration know-how and our proven solutions.
P.S. I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy holiday season and an excellent start to the New Year – despite the coronavirus pandemic.