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Keeping current is critical to digital thread success

Every business leader is aware of the increasing pace in today’s business environment. Turnover of products are much faster today than five years ago. The demand on shorter time-to-market for new products keeps increasing. Lucrative business opportunities and gradually increasing sales revenues are at stake.

Dealing with these market conditions, I would not be surprised if R&D directors, senior-level product executives, and their colleagues would suffer from a constant state of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).


Technology should avoid FOMO!

In our work with industrial clients, independent of industries, we are occasionally brought in to assess the current state of technology and offer a sustainable technology strategy that enables an end-to-end digital thread.

Often, we look at technologies such as PLM, PDM, integrations to CAD and so on. The level of maturity and implementations of these technologies are scrutinized as well.

As an example, when we talk about PLM, one of the most sustainable strategies to follow when investing in PLM is the ability to keep your solution current.

Companies want to make sure that the technology investment is able to meet the business requirements now and well into the future via continuous and cost-effective improvements rather than a series of discontinuous, high-intensity, and costly upgrade or enhancement events.

It is not realistic to always keep all solutions within an enterprise application landscape on the very latest release, however staying current is always advisable as it reduces risk of both catastrophic failure and incremental degradation.

We often find solutions that are not currently supported being used for mission critical functions.

Not only does that practice add considerable risk to business operations. It also makes it harder for the company to achieve the goal of transforming analogue processes into digital workflows. If existing platforms are hindering digital transformation because they are not updated to the current version, you run the risk of setting back your business by several years.

Remember, if your business-critical platforms are several years old, it will likely take equally as many years to get back on track.

So, if your platforms are 5 years old, you have lost 5 years of new updates and functionalities that could have been a great benefit to your company. And it will take you an additional 5 years before your existing platform is current with other platform offerings on the market.

The question you need to reflect on is, can you afford being 5 years behind the competition´?

I can tell you, most companies cannot.

So, why do software solutions go obsolete?

Market evolution and technology evolution are the main drivers of software obsolescence. Market evolution is a broad area and is constantly changing. Within a market there are many participants; customers and solution providers are primary, but regulatory organizations also have major market influence. Each market participant contributes to overall requirements within a market segment and it’s up to the solution provider to choose the appropriate requirements to satisfy with their product.

There are many negative impacts caused by older and unsupported software solutions. As far as improving business performance, the lack of new features and the inability to enable an end-to-end digital thread are arguably the most critical.

So, does Cloud solve this issue?

Many companies are turning to the cloud to be saved. Unfortunately, the cloud doesn’t solve all the upgrade issues, but it does solve some very important ones. Most new software companies are adopting a cloud-native business model. Mature providers that started on-premises are adapting and transforming their products to be cloud-ready often with a Cloud business model.

A key advantage of cloud solutions is they are typically architected in a manner that allows them to be upgraded regularly ensuring that the latest capabilities are available. Cloud upgrades often happen every few weeks ensuring application freshness, but there is a downside.

Users are rarely able to delay upgrades, so the blessing is that they are forced to stay current but to do so they need to accept the upgrade on the solution provider’s schedule. Staying current means the users will have the latest and greatest capabilities to support their digital transformation, but they too might have to be retrained on a more continuous basis. Just moving software to the cloud may lower overhead costs, but this isn’t the most important measure.

That is how much value does a move to the cloud add? Cloud-native solutions are the future but are not necessarily required for a successful PLM implementation. Choosing a solution only based on whether it is cloud-native or not is like choosing a car based on the type of tires it has.

It is an important criterion, but far from the only one. The most important criterion is whether a cloud solution meets all your business requirements appropriately, and how it will meet your evolving requirements moving forward. So far, most multi-tenant PLM solutions on the cloud are focused on specific industries and use cases. They are not as flexible as many of the mature on-premises-based solutions have proven to be.

Fortunately, this is starting to change, as the native cloud solutions grow their depth and breadth, and many of today’s PLM mindshare leaders, as defined by CIMdata, are transforming their solutions to leverage cloud platform capabilities, and moving to a business model that supports cloud PLM offerings.


What can we learn from this?

PLM solutions are a complex landscape of business processes, software systems, integrations, and supporting hardware in most companies. The various technologies have lifecycles and need regular upgrades and occasional replacements. Postponing upgrades is done for both good and bad reasons, and it can be risky to be an early adopter as bugs and other issues can be disruptive.

But, on the other hand, missing out on performance updates or useful capabilities can inhibit progress and drag profitability lower.

Furthermore, missing security updates puts data, intellectual property, and businesses at risk of theft. Digital transformation is a major industrial trend that old and obsolete software cannot often support. Companies must be able to stay current to have access to the features and security they need to successfully grow their businesses.

A recent CIMdata research project found that Aras customers have upgraded more recently than customers of other mindshare leaders’ solutions. Companies looking for a PLM solution that can be easily kept up to date should check out Aras Innovator. Aras’ technology and business approach help customers configure a solution to their needs and keep it current.

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