Today, almost every enterprise is going through a digital transformation to stay competitive and be a leader in its market. Their digital transformation strategies are changing the way in which companies deliver their business and IT services. From a customer standpoint, this means a shift from the provision of a product to the provision of a service associated with that product. From an enterprise standpoint, this means end-to-end management of all the data and information that they have digitally created across the enterprise, including the extended enterprise.
Riding the Digital Transformation Wave
Enterprises facing digital transformation are impacted in several ways. Because of the pressure from market and competition, these organizations have been developing new business models, for which more integration of data, processes, technology, and people is a must. Organizations undergoing digital transformation also have to assure digital continuity to avoid disruptions in business, minimize costs, enhance product quality and reliability, increase brand loyalty, and overall accelerate time to market. The creation and growing importance of dedicated roles such as CDO (Chief Digital Officer) testify the willingness to invest for a successful achievement of a digital transformation program. At the same time, organizations need to adopt a customer-centric strategy – where information exchanges with customers and their feedback is the mainstay of the enterprise strategy. Additionally, organizations facing digital transformation need a flexible production backbone which can effectively manage constant product changes.
As a part of digital transformation strategy, enterprises have to look at their Product Lifecycle at the core of their business to ensure digital continuity across the whole company - from ideation to product launch. This is not only relevant for assembled products like a car or an aircraft, but also for process like products (food, chemical products, footwear, and apparel), and, more recently, for intangible products like banking or insurance products and services that are connected to them. In fact, Service Lifecycle Management is becoming a mandatory initiative for any enterprise that wants to boost its after-sales services.
Products are getting increasingly smart. Today, products must be functionally rich (multiple features) and easy to use at the same time. Therefore, it is becoming increasingly challenging for companies to formulate an overall vision at the complete product lifecycle (not just design) phase. Historically, that has been the core of engineering activities.
Overall, the more a company can assure continuity of digitalization (from product planning to product services and after-sales), the more it will be able to control and manage the whole end-to-end process related to product lifecycle.
The Evolving Role of Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)
The purpose of PLM has shifted from being a purely computer-aided design role with 2D or 3D drawings to being a product data management backbone. All product data is now managed, exchanged, shared, utilized, and modified across the organization in a rather collaborative manner.
PLM, which was meant to be an engineering product development tool solely, is now becoming increasingly fundamental to digital transformation strategy. The PLM software market was valued at USD 46 billion in 2018. It is expected to grow and reach USD 67.3 billion by 2024, recording a CAGR of 6.52% for the period 2019-2024. The demand for robust data analytics software platform is growing and is further amplified by the increasing adoption of IoT across the manufacturing industry. There are PLM solutions in the market that offer rooted analytics capabilities for manufacturers seeking IoT competencies that can implement their PLM strategy to ensure that the system is up and running flexibly, in no time.
The key trends in the PLM market point towards the strong evolution of the platform and its use:
- PLM’s transformation into a Product Innovation Platform is gaining momentum.
- Companies are investing despite an unsettled economy.
- Traditional engineering IT services are shrinking and cloud is acting as a contributing factor. PLM solution providers developing products, packaging, and delivery bundles are going to reduce services and move in to areas different from pure Research & Development.
- Competition is betting on “Digital” and acquisitions route to execute an end-to-end program - from consulting and implementation to maintenance.
- Increasing need for integrated software and hardware product development; for example, PLM to Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) integration.
- Initiatives around enabling “Digital Thread” and “Digital Twin” are creating a lot of consulting opportunities for service providers.
- Product Data Management as a strategy and a vision outside the traditional discrete manufacturing area to hit process manufacturing, retail, oil & gas, and even financial services markets.
- Data access and security is an aspect which is gaining momentum because product data is being increasingly exchanged outside the enterprise boundary (co-design with supplier, customer feedbacks on social media, external cyber-attack) and intellectual property needs to be defended on a much stronger scale.
Product Data Going Beyond Engineering
At every point in a product lifecycle, useful data is generated. Historically, the very first product digital data had come from Engineering, during the design process, with the use of CAD/CAM applications, more than 40 years ago. Since then, the companies have streamlined processes, reviewed organizations, updated business ambitions, and used the latest support technologies. Today, a large amount of data is available from the product design phase, supported by a PLM backbone that has been implemented over the last 10-15 years.
Companies are becoming more aware of the potential benefit that can be derived out of the analysis of the product data, make it more innovative and responsive to the competitive market. To allow a better collaboration with suppliers, to define the cost of the product, to provide technical and end-user documentation, or to improve the production process, product data is used well beyond the engineering department and is shared across the company, where each department leverages this data and improves its quality. Regardless of the maturity level, any enterprise today finds that product data created from either R&D, laboratories, or fashion design are being increasingly used in other domains as well.
Tapping the Power of PLM to Drive Digital Transformation
Manufacturers and their ecosystems are growing, both geographically and organizationally. Investment in next-generation PLM is crucial for the upkeep of a flexible and focused business infrastructure adept at steering business and to respond to market requirements with smart products. Amongst various other things, the most essential features that organizations seek in a PLM solution are:
- Ease of use: PLM, which is not easy to use, will slow down training and hamper work, affecting the optimization and efficiency of implementing the PLM system.
- Connected: Connected PLM removes constrains due to silos by creating a connected ecosystem.
- Collaborative: PLM solution should get integrated with existing enterprise systems seamlessly, enabling collaboration across value chain and data-focused process.
- Existing process support: PLM should work within the existing workflow and expectations.
- Flexible and adaptive: The ultimate benefit of a PLM platform is its ability to communicate and stay organized across different teams, businesses, and industries. That enables effective response to fast-changing business requirements.
- Speed of implementation: Installing the software, training employees, and integrating it into daily workflow processes, should not be unduly time-consuming.
HCL provides best-in-class partnership ecosystem to support diverse requirements. With two decades of unrivaled expertise in providing PLM services, and comprehensive industry knowledge, HCL offerings and end-to-end capabilities span ten major industry segments and product realization.
A successful transformation to digital PLM will depend upon the ability of enterprises to restructure their PLM strategies, which:
- Leverage digital PLM assets created over the years across the ecosystem and facilitate digital continuity across applications.
- Provide the capability to transform from data authoring to data consumption, enabling the processes.
- Deliver through agile and efficient development methodology.
This is where HCL can deliver significant value. With our next-generation PLM capabilities, ability to support customers on IT and business processes, and expertise in Engineering Services domain, we can comprehend the challenges in the digital transformation of PLM systems efficiently. We partner with our clients to empower the digital enterprises of the future with best-in-class PLM strategies.
HCL offers a portfolio of services that addresses every aspect of this digital transformation including consulting services that aim at resolving some of the most frequent issues that companies have.
Through the acquisition of Geometric in 2016, HCL has become one of the global leaders in the PLM market. We have more than 1700 specialists spread across North America, Europe, India, and the Asia-Pacific.
To sum up how we address the challenges of our customers, we provide support through every phase of the journey, from product design to digital transformation. We have both technology and business competencies, and a strong consultation-led approach, to cover the entire lifecycle across the whole enterprise.