Editor’s Note: Sef Tuma, Global Lead – Accenture Industry X, Intelligent Products and Platforms; Matthew Thomas, North America Lead – Accenture Industry X, Engineering; Abhi Dastidar – Senior Manager, Accenture Industry X
The future of Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) and product engineering is in the cloud.
For manufacturers looking to develop a new generation of smart products, the cloud is a no brainer. The stats bear this out: in a recent Accenture survey, 52% of manufacturers said the public cloud is their preferred choice for PLM.
Why? Because the move promises speed, agility and cost control, whereas legacy PLM solutions are increasingly outdated and inefficient. PLM in the cloud lets companies bring new technologies faster to a larger user-base. Integration of data, analytics and compute enable the kind of digital thread and digital twin infrastructure that organizations need to run simulations at higher scale across – not just across engineering departments but also with manufacturing. Last not least, it enables more reliably connecting engineering systems and back-office functions, thus powering design-to-market and bill of materials procurement optimization functions.
But what if the move to the cloud is not going as smoothly and successfully as expected? Some manufacturers have found that their investments are failing to deliver the full range of anticipated benefits. These businesses will ultimately be slower to market and less productive than peers that have made the most of their PLM cloud investments.
In our work with manufacturers, we’ve found that there are three key elements to a PLM cloud migration that enable cloud-powered product engineering:
1. They start with the business case. PLM cloud leaders focus first on business goals and identify all areas in which cloud-based transformation will deliver value, using proven value assessment calculators to help. They also do away with outdated on-premise thinking, knowing that any attempt to just lift and shift existing PLM applications to the cloud is bound to fail. Finally, they look to break down barriers between IT and the business and build a business case that meets the needs of both.
2. They accelerate value realization. PLM cloud leaders are increasingly looking to fully managed services as an enabler to value realization. This is because managed services can help to reduce and control costs through automation, while simultaneously spurring innovation through highly scalable resources and services. Meanwhile, the 24/7 support that comes with managed services helps build business continuity and resilience.
3. They embrace total transformation. Cloud leaders understand that cloud value is not incremental: it’s total. The cloud allows manufacturers to leverage transformative technologies like digital thread, digital twin, AI, IoT and product data analytics to support a rich and connected product ecosystem. To take full advantage of these technologies, cloud leaders support their technology stack and capabilities with advanced analytics, prioritize use cases based on business outcomes, and ensure they have the appropriate level of data fidelity.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted business as usual, and manufacturers, like companies in many other industries, now have an imperative to transform at pace to meet the evolving needs of customers. Cloud-powered PLM capabilities and product engineering will allow manufacturers to meet this imperative and promise to underpin a faster and smarter approach to product development.