PLM’s Rapid Collaborative Growth

Last year I took the time to ask some professional associates about their company’s Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software. My interest, of course, being driven by PLM’s incorporation of virtual world simulation style elements. To my astonishment, most weren’t even aware what it was, and some reported that their company was in the process of either investigating or acquiring the software. So it’s with little surprise that I caught the following over on Desktop Engineering (Link) yesterday:

According to recent statistics compiled by consulting and research firm CIMdata, Inc. (Ann Arbor, MI), the worldwide product lifecycle management (PLM) market grew 8.7 percent to reach $18.1 billion in 2005. This growth rate exceeded earlier estimates, with the boost attributed to continued strengthening of the global economy and an increased recognition of the value of PLM in improving a company’s business performance. PLM investments are forecast to continue climbing over the next five years, reaching an estimated $26.3 billion by 2010.

What’s especially interesting is that CIMdata goes on to segment the PLM arena in the same way I do: Tools and Collaboration (cPDm, in their vernacular).

Now, because as an Industrial Designer I’m familiar with the tools, I’m already aware that things are leveling out. There’s only so many ways to create CAD; and most apps have features that are mirrored by their competitors. One of the bigger deals in the last few years has been PTC’s incorporation (or attempt to incorporate) the CDRS surfacing tools into Pro/ENGINEER. It’s not, afaic, been a wild success; industrial designers still want Alias, Rhino and – increasingly – Maya. That’s a lot of work on PTC’s part for a lukewarm reception.

Instead, the new growth and best opportunities are in Collaboration. Hello! That’s exactly why applications like Second Life are so interesting. It’s why I wrote on the SL Future Salon site (Link) that “(i)t’s not about the hardware or software anymore”. It’s about the people. It’s about Collaboration. Even videogame developer Valve understands.

The word is out. Let’s see where this goes.