Welcome to this week's TBT blog post,
continuing our series on the PLM Vendor Code of Conduct,
originally published in 2011.
I must admit growing up I was quite the Sting fan. I had two chances to see him live. First in college when he was still with the Police but I couldn't find anyone who wanted to go with me and then later my wife actually bought tickets to his concert as a surprise for me but he canceled. I even enjoyed his brief acting career as the bellboy in Quadrophenia and as the evil prince in Dune. Apparently, some PLM vendors are more inclined to listen to the verse from the song "if you want to keep something precious you got to lock it up" rather than the title. Last week I wrote about the first PLM Code of Conduct Principle: Leave No Man Behind. I received several responses, including one from the Virtual Dutchman, Jos Voskuil, a seasoned PLM consultant and blogger. To paraphrase, Jos was somewhat pessimistic about the prospect of PLM vendors adhering to a code of conduct given how much leverage they have over customers. He was particularly concerned about what he called "vendor lock-in". I too think this is a big problem for companies using Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software. Once you have chosen to use one PLM solution, it can be very difficult to move off this platform and onto another. Moreover, beyond just trying to move from one system to another, it can be very difficult to get information out of a PLM solution to use in other environments. This state of affairs leads to the PLM Vendor Code of Conduct Principle 2- If You Love Somebody Set Them Free.
I do understand that PLM vendors operate as for-profit enterprises and want to do everything in their power to maintain their market share and maximize profitability. As a small business, we have similar goals. However, using artificial means to hold your customer hostage and prevent other companies from competing is probably not the best way to go about things. The ultimate arbiter for whether a company continues to do business with you should be the value that is generated from the products or services you provide. PLM vendors should be committed to enhancing their products to maintain their competitive advantage over their rivals. By working with their clients to understand what they need to be successful, PLM vendors can create a relationship built on loyalty and value. I think this better serves the vendor and the customer. Creating proprietary schemas and restricting the ability to output information to prevent clients from leveraging other technology is not the path to success. Additionally, PLM is typically one piece of a larger enterprise infrastructure and it is important that the content and capability of the PLM application is accessible by other enterprise applications like ERP and CRM. Most PLM systems are becoming more open as the market demands it but there are still vestiges of control where certain types of information are restricted or vendors demand clients purchase expensive access licenses to be able to use their own information outside of the PLM system. Some PLM vendors will restrict third party access to their platform to discourage competition and even cooperation which is a shortsighted strategy that will leave them pigeonholed as a niche application as the use cases for PLM continue to expand.