SMB PLM: Innovation Driver?

Product lifecycle management for SMBs equals better IPM.



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Ventana Research believes product lifecycle management (PLM) technology is key to the converting phase of innovation performance management (IPM). However, most PLM technology remains out of the reach of small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), hampering their innovation capability overall. But the signs are that things are about to change.

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PLM technology is crucial to the success of large enterprises such as Airbus and Boeing or Ford and General Motors. However, the cost and complexity of the software and its infrastructure platform demands make it largely inaccessible to SMBs. As a result, the ability of SMBs to convert innovative ideas into deliverables and realize the value of these deliverables in the marketplace is reduced. But there are signs that this might change.

A number of recent announcements indicate that PLM vendors are beginning to embrace the Microsoft platform. This should eventually result in application acquisition and deployment costs coming down so that PLM is more accessible to SMBs. PLM leaders such as Dassault, MatrixOne, Sopheon and UGS have announced alliances with Microsoft, ports to the Microsoft platform or improved links to Microsoft Office.

Surprisingly, Microsoft Business Solutions offers no significant PLM functionality in its Great Plains, Navision or Axapta solutions, although PLM capabilities would most likely suit the current Axapta user base. To succeed, PLM must offer deep functionality and wide integration, including linking to application assets that Microsoft does not own (e.g. CAD). So, it could be sometime before even Microsoft Business Solutions can compete with PLM vendors already servicing the top-end of the SMB marketplace — such as Co|Create, which already offers a cost-effective subscription model for its OneSpace.net collaborative PLM service.

Assessment

There are many ways of improving IPM in SMBs, but one of the most effective might be to enable these businesses to benefit from PLM technology that is currently out of their reach. Ventana Research believes increased availability of PLM solutions on the Microsoft platforms will help put PLM within the reach of more SMBs, which means better innovation performance in these businesses.

Stewart McKie is European Analyst Director at Ventana Research.

Ventana Research is the preeminent research and advisory services firm helping our clients maximize stakeholder value with Performance Management throughout their organizations. Putting research in a business and IT context we provide insight and education on the best practices, methodologies and technologies that enable our clients to leverage assets to understand, optimize, and align strategies and processes to meet their goals and objectives.

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