Prostep | Newsletter

When certainties become less certain

By Bernd Pätzold

For a long time, it seemed reasonable to think that PLM technology had reached a high level of maturity and that it had become firmly established in industry as an enabler for greater productivity in product development. However, this year, which is hurrying toward its end far too quickly, I have had to give up some of my previous certainties. The dictum coined by Heraclitus clearly also applies to PLM: There is nothing permanent except change – however quietly it comes about.

The PLM world in 2016 has not been characterized so much by important milestones as by trends that have grown in strength and have suddenly started to call PLM, as we know it, into question. Not just in the USA but here in Germany as well, experts are discussing what the future of PLM might look like and, indeed, what PLM systems have to provide in order to have a future. Download. Naturally, PROSTEP is making a vigorous contribution to this discussion because it has repercussions for our consulting activities. For a long time, we have been looking very closely at the question of the PLM strategy and IT architecture that will best allow our customers to master the digital transformation.

Neither the monolithic PLM architectures nor the current licensing models operated by PLM developers are viable in the long term. Instead, the future beongs to federated systems with intelligently linked information and subscription models with lower software procurement and maintenance costs. This is the opinion of no less an expert than Professor Martin Eigner, one of Germany's pioneers in the PLM field, whom we interviewed in our PROSTEP Newsletter to mark the conference organized to announce the results of the mecPro2 project. To the interview. At least as far as licensing policies are concerned, the PLM developers seem to be doing something: Peter Bilello, head of the American market research company CIMdata, considers the move away from PTC, Autodesk and other solution providers toward subscription models to be an important trend of 2016 - together with the growing attention that PLM developers are paying to the Internet of Things (IoT). Even German software houses are now taking a close look at a topic that for a long time seemed to be the exclusive domain of PTC.

IoT is no longer a blueprint; it is a reality. A few weeks ago, a massive DDoS attack (Distributed Denial of Service) on one of the largest DNS providers brought down thousands of websites and services – including those of Amazon, Netflix, PayPal and Twitter. 

It was carried out by an army of hacked IoT devices, that is to say interlinked smartphones, watches, baby phones, heating controllers, cameras and many others, and it was not the first attack of this type. Link. Is IoT in some way pulling the rug out from under its own feet?

Connecting everything and everyone via the Internet undoubtedly multiplies the dangers because many manufacturers of IoT devices have paid too little attention to the question of security in the past. This applies not only to networked consumer goods but also, for example, to high-tech equipment in hospitals that can be hacked from the guest Wi-Fi network. And that's no joke! A security expert at this year's TechDay reported on exactly this case. All the participants at this event – manufacturers of IoT devices, operators, IT infrastructure suppliers, etc. – have an obligation to work together to do more in terms of data security. PROSTEP has already responded to this increasingly risky situation and just a few weeks ago became one of only a few hundred German companies whose IT infrastructure has been certified as complying with the ISO 27001 security standard.

The discussion about the future of PLM is closely bound up with the topic of IoT – indeed, we might say that it is linked to it. The core issue that needs to be addressed is what impact the increasing interconnection of mechatronic and cybertronic products and the development of new service-oriented business models will have on industrial development processes and tools. The development of cybertronic products is an extremely interdisciplinary process that demands new tools and methods. The mecPro2 project yielded interesting results about the ways in which model-based systems engineering (MBSE) will contribute and how it can be integrated in PLM processes and systems. Unfortunately, we read far too little about this topic.

Despite the fact that the topic of PLM is more fascinating now than it has been for a long time, it seems to be almost totally neglected by the trade press. The PLM sector is running short of media that still have the financial capability and human resources to report in detail on complex subjects such as the digitalization of product development. Fortunately, we have beefed up the PROSTEP Newsletter this year so that we can regularly inform you about important new developments in our field. Take advantage of the Christmas holidays to have a look.

On this note, I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a successful 2017.