The early application of product life cycle management (PLM) dates to 1985. The American Motors Corporation (AMC) was looking to make their development process faster while decreasing the cost to compete with bigger competitors. Today, the concept is utilized in almost every major industry.
Simply put, product life cycle management refers to managing the data and processes that are involved in ideating, designing, developing, and disposing of a product. The data helps businesses take vital decisions across different PLC stages including the pricing strategy, promotion, cost-cutting and whether to drop the product all together.
A typical product life cycle management has 4 stages. It all starts with introducing a new product to the market. The cost at this stage may be higher due to heavy investment in research and marketing. This is followed by the growth stage; users are more familiar with the product and resultantly sales and profits increase. The next stage is maturity; the sales and profits are steady, and decisions are taken on future marketing strategies. The last stage is decline where the sales volume decrease. This may be caused by increased competition or change in customer needs.
Modern technologies have further increased the significance of PLM. The introduction of internet of things (IoT), digital twins, blockchain, cloud solutions and more emphasis on customer experience is redefining the PLM space and helping businesses to stay competitive.
Before the advent of IoT technologies, the PLM process mostly began after the deployment. In today’s business world the IoT is helping businesses with insights that are crucial to improving the overall development process. Right from the inception to production and finally to decommissioning of the product these IoT devices play a critical role in providing key data points to all the stakeholders within and outside the organization.
Adding on, Blockchain is yet another interesting technology that has the potential to disrupt the PLM space. As the technology does not allow data to be stored in a single location, the decentralized and distributed nature of the ledger allows seamless integrations, copyright protection, IoT data management, team collaboration and much more.
One of the other important trends is the digital twin. The concept is to simply map and build a virtual model of the product development process. Digital twin is quickly gaining popularity since it allows all the departments directly involved in the PLM process to communicate and collaborate. The fact that it brings the design, engineering, manufacturing, sales, and maintenance teams together helps the company to move towards an agile and intelligent future.
Another area that is gaining traction is cloud deployment solutions. The Cloud PLM allows businesses to manage the entire product life cycle process and helps in improving product quality. With lower upfront and maintenances cost to providing increased visibility to all team and higher security protocols, the cloud PLM software solution are ideal for today’s dynamic organizations.
One of the areas that has been ignored in the past during the entire PLM process is customer experience (CX). Fortunately, this trend is changing. The proliferation of PLM solutions and high demand from customers has made CX a critical factor while selecting the right solution. This has resulted in better pricing and an improved user interface for customers.
The PLM process, if implemented effectively, can have numerous benefits for the company. Some of its advantages include streamlining the overall process, getting the product faster to market, reducing the costs, improving product safety, and ultimately increasing profits. The goal is to use the data across different PLM stages and develop high-quality products that outperform competitors and last longer. In addition, with new technologies on the horizon, the PLM space will witness more competition and ultimately force the business to innovate and develop effective PLM strategies.
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