Ranking The PLM Vendors

By December 10, 2017 PLM

Aras PLM is Challenging the Hegemony of Established PLM Software Vendors

A recent Forrester Wave Report, ranking product lifecycle management (PLM) vendors for discrete product manufacturers. As is typically the response to this type of analyst reports, the report generated multiple responses from participating vendors and industry analysts.

I always find analyst reports such as Forrester’s Wave, Gartner’s Magic Quadrant and IDC’s Marketscape, interesting, but difficult to decipher and reconcile, especially when they include rankings based on vague and highly subjective metrics such as “vision” and “cool.”

The Forrester Wave report shows very little functional differentiation between the top 4 contenders: Aras, Dassault Systèmes, PTC, and Siemens. Indeed, unless the PLM buyer focuses on key areas in which only some of the vendors support fully (e.g. supplier management or digital twin), software features do not offer much differentiation anymore. PLM buyers buy more than software; they buy a shared vision, a clear product roadmap, domain expertise, and a long-term commitment to those. A PLM company trying to compete based on features and functions alone will not go very far (which is why Autodesk, also evaluated in this report, has such a long way to catch up to even establish the prerequisite baseline).

Readers of the report may have been surprised by the prominent position of Aras—a relatively late entrant into the PLM leaders circle that was not even mentioned in Forrester’s 2008 PLM report.

Aras scores high on its strategy and vision, but seems to get penalized for poor market presence (as do Autodesk and Oracle). Although, on the other hand, according to Figure 2 in the Wave report, Market Presence doesn’t factor into the final score…

Lack of brand recognition and visibility to large-scale deployments of Aras PLM is certainly an area the company should address. With revenue exceeding $100M and the recent cash infusion of $40M, we may see some changes on this front.

Speaking of surprises, it isn’t clear to me why Siemens was ranked significantly lower than its peers on both strategy and product offering. Have Forrester analysts undervalued the company’s broad portfolio of simulation tools? Have they penalized Siemens for being relatively late to jump on the IoT and digital twin bandwagon?

I don’t have the answer to that question. But the Forrester report does seem to suggest that while the top-tier PLM vendors run neck to neck, the gap between them and the next tier: Autodesk, Oracle and SAP, is widening.

One final point. The Wave report covers only PLM vendors with revenue exceeding $100M, thereby excluding several much smaller yet capable PLM software vendors.

The essence of this article was first published in response to Oleg Shilovitsky’s article What I learned about PLM leaders from Forrester research.