Decalcomanie (Rene Magritte, 1996)

Is IoT The New PLM?

At the recent LiveWorx technology conference, PTC’s CEO Jim Heppelmann stated “IoT is PLM.” An observation some of us, and, I believe, Mr. Heppelmann himself, have made before. This notion is more profound than some may realize.

Despite the capital ‘L’ of PLM, many product companies do not actually exercise product lifecycle management. Many PLM software systems are reduced to PDM and engineering change management.  In his comments to industry analysts, Mr. Heppelmann observed: “Nobody, not even PTC, is doing product lifecycle management. You build a car, the car leaved the factory and you never hear about it again.”

Connected products offer visibility and insight that most organizations never had before.

But, as I have commented in the past, machine-generated data isn’t sufficient to paint a complete picture. Connected users and social media interactions provide early warning signs and ongoing feedback not only about product failures and software bugs, but can also be eye-opening testimonials about general attitudes towards product features and usability, and the strength of the brand.

Connected products and customers, and the combination of “hard” IoT-delivered data and data from other sources are a critical path to curing the organization’s product myopia. This rich data provides visibility and insight that most organizations never had before, and the ability to get greater value from their PLM software.

Which brings us to observing—again, not at the first time—that product lifecycle management is about having a robust culture and process to manage a broad range of multidisciplinary product information through its design, operation, and decommissioning and recycling phases.  IoT is part of the process architecture that provides this digital continuity.

Observing that IoT is the new PLM isn’t a cute attempt to energize the PLM space. It is a necessary point of view to adopt in order to maximize the value of both your IoT and PLM investments.


Image: Decalcomanie (Rene Magritte, 1996)