Towards a digital future: the evolving role of PLM in the future digital world

Xlifecycle has joined forces with the Professional PLM Initiative on this White-Paper


Almost every company that undertakes Product Lifecycle Management will be affected by, and will want to take advantage of, the new 'Digital' advances.

Not only do such developments as Industry 4.0, the Industrial Internet of Things, the Digital Thread and the Digital Twin offer ways to enhance PLM, but they have captured the attention of senior management in a way that PLM never has.

PLM has been contributing to digitally transform the design, engineering and manufacturing world for over two decades. There is a vast amount of experience that should be carried forward into this new Digital Age. Furthermore, a sound PLM platform is an essential requirement for accurate digital continuity.

The purpose of this initiative is to put forward a neutral picture of the role of PLM in the ever-changing Digital landscape, and of how Digital is transforming PLM.

This may help to answer questions such as how to:

  • (Re-)define the place of PLM in the wider digitalization landscape, from product creation to smart factory / Industry 4.0 and the wider digital thread.
  • Assess the evolving capabilities of digital twins, PLM and other enterprise platforms across the digital thread – and how they interface from a data, process, functions / people perspectives.
  • Set the direction for future digital PLM evolution and integration strategies – defining clear boundaries with other digital platforms and their respective usages.
  • Assess digital, business transformation requirements and PLM roadmap to enhance value creation from this digital future.

Everyone contributing to this survey by 30 June 2020 will receive in due time a copy of the summary results.

Have your say

Any sound roadmap for integrating PLM with the new Digital Future should be based on the following premise:

For over 2 decades, PLM has been integrating and digitizing the world of product development, building up a wealth of technical capability and business expertise. 

The recent advent of technologies within the 'Digital Wave' offers new opportunities to advance the reach and effectiveness of PLM; and also offers brand new areas of opportunity that should be exploited in their own right.

The relationship between PLM and Digital should be symbiotic and harmonized.  Considering this holistic landscape, PLM knowledge and techniques provide a sound and proven structure for "connect everything" integration that the Digital discipline has yet to learn; and Digital capabilities offer a path to extend PLM beyond its current boundaries.

For any product-oriented company, the most effective strategy for the future will be based on a genuinely integrated approach to PLM and Digital development.

This White-Paper is intended to be the starting point for a widespread and open debate that will eventually establish how PLM and Digital relate to each other.

It is the aim of the 'Professional PLM Initiative' to generate neutral, agreed answers to these questions, so that the role of a future PLM professional in the Digital Future can be defined. 

The process of clarifying and defining this is likely to enable product-oriented companies to establish their own PLM-Digital roadmap that integrates the best opportunities of each discipline.

Download the paper

Open plea for business users, executives, IT and PLM practitioner feedback

Enterprise digital platforms have perhaps diluted their specific “purpose” by aiming at integrating all operations under a holistic umbrella as it is perhaps the vision for a fully connected Digital future; vendors are also keen to continue to grab new digital real-estate markets.

This should not be an excuse to dilute the meaning of PLM, ERP, MES, etc. but perhaps on the contrary, time has come to clarify (and simplify) these disciplines and their respective roles in the Digital future.

Have your say and join the debate by sharing your views in the survey below. Everyone contributing to this survey within the suggested timeframe will receive in due time a copy of the summary results.

Join the debate

PLM and the digital future: industry survey

This survey is presented in collaboration with PLMIG and is part of the Professional PLM Initiative.

The purpose of this survey is to capture the views of as many PLM practitioners as possible about the PLM capabilities that should be part of any Digital program, and about how PLM and Digital can be successfully integrated.

This aims to:

  • Create a neutral reference point for understanding the PLM position and potential;
  • Act as a basis for harmonizing PLM and Digital programs in the future.

Individual input will remain confidential. The names of participants will not be published. Feedback will be compiled into an ‘anonymized’, non-attributable format and will produce a picture of the potential for maximizing the synergy and benefits of PLM and Digital.

Feedback is welcome from all PLM practitioners and leaders, in any role and from any part of the industry:

  • PLM users / data creators and consumers
  • Implementors / system integrators / consultants
  • Vendors
  • Academics

Note that we need only the most basic level of detail; we are not trying to capture sensitive strategic information or intellectual property.

The aim is simply to get initial reactions from informed industrialists and PLM practitioners. It is best to use your own words, as you might explain the answers in conversation with someone who has just asked you the questions in person; and to write in general terms, rather than about the specifics of your own company or organization.