How does cloud and Industrial PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) intersect ?
PLM and Cloud are both very generic terms, covering vast domains. We often neglect the business impacts of cloud by focusing on the technical enablement it brings.
I will highlight some area where I believe PLM practices can benefit from Cloud.
- Cloud is a technical enabler
- Cloud is business transformational
Cloud is a technical enabler
We can first consider cloud as an enabler for various practices.
Cloud accelerates software development activities
Cloud improve developers productivity. By reducing lead time to setup a project and allowing the reuse of higher order system, cloud allows quick prototyping and accelerate the building of applications.
Needed for IOT to gather and analyse vast amount of data
The promises of new Industrial model is based on the increase of data gathering. The advent of IOT contribute to this trend. This makes traditional on premise infrastructure too limited and not suitable for massive data analytics. By providing highly scallable systems for storage and analytics, cloud vendors become a key part of the PLM editors toolbox.
Cloud accelerate AI/ML
Cloud is key for AI/ML workloads. While 2 years ago we would have developed our own algorithms, numerous ML activities are now standardized (think chat bots, automation software, basic image recognition, or text sentiment analysis, basic predictions). It does not make sense anymore to build theses algorithms from scratch, we should rather focus on customizing and extending what exists.
Still, there is room for highly specific or customized ML industrial models. But even in this case, clouds bring strong benefits. The way we train and use ML models require spiky resources consumptions (massive computing power to train the model, and lower power to use it). Theses kind of workload are well suited to the on-demand consumption model of cloud.
Cloud is business transformational
Cloud encourages data exchanges
The need to exchange data between suppliers or co-designing companies is not new. But the recent events from 2020, and the trend to remote first accelerates this transition.
Cloud encourages SAAS
Cloud vendor offer pay as you go model and require relative low investment to get started building applications. This costing model, combined with the use of pre-packaged higher order system (lego bricks) makes cloud the preferred choice to build Software As A Service application. The trend for editor to offer such SAAS application is only starting for the PLM domain. Still this is general industry trend and it will not stop.
There is business consolidation going on
The PLM software industry sees a strong consolidation trend, meaning that existing editors do their best to integrate services that where previously offered by multiple vendors.
But more importantly, we see new actors entering the previously walled PLM activity:
There is a movement where we see actors who where not traditional PLM vendors aggregate and offer PLM typed services. See the VW-AWS partnership or the availability of major PLM solution in MS Azure marketplace, the trend is there and will only accelerate.
I showed some impacts of the cloud on the PLM ecosystem business .
Cloud is not a technical topic. It transforms massively the business of PLM activities.
You should consider theses trends in any new project, but most importantly, keep an eye on the new entrants, they are not going to stop.