2020 PLM Predictions

With recession lurking in the shadows after the longest economic expansion in history, the unpredictability of escalating trade wars, BREXIT and a contentious U.S. presidential election, you might be bracing for the worst in 2020. With all this impending change, manufacturers must prepare more than ever to remain ahead in an ever-shifting competitive landscape.

Manufacturers who can successfully launch new customer experiences before their competition will maintain market leadership, ward off new market entrants and earn well-deserved buzz. The latest product innovations are all about the customer: autonomous vehicles, cloud- and mobile-based features, over-the-air upgrades, new materials, AI-driven manufacturing, sensors, high-bandwidth communications, products that communicate with each other across vendors and industries and more.

Those willing to address the gaps in processes and technology, while doubling down on dismantling silos, will be the ones who emerge victorious in their product-complexity endeavors. Although we project a great deal of volatility, and a likely global economic slowdown, companies will continue to invest in product lifecycle management (PLM) platforms in order to stay ahead of the competition.

As we survey the manufacturing industry ahead of the new year, here’s what else we can expect to see in 2020:


Prediction #1: Digital transformation failures worsen

Digital transformation efforts will continue to struggle with at least 60% failing in the new year. The vast majority will go well over budget investing in tech-driven processes and will have little to show for their efforts. Many established manufacturers in heavy industries underestimate their technical debt—the budget allocated to legacy systems and technology stacks. These organizations don’t understand what is needed to simplify their product ecosystem.

To overcome these challenges, manufacturers require the ability to adapt. They need leadership, an adaptive organization and a resilient, modern technology platform architecture. We project more agile organizations who make proper use of these open platform technologies will use data and collaboration to be first to market and disrupt several entrenched market leaders—typically, larger manufacturers that will be stuck in first gear, incapable of change.

We’re not alone in our projection. Gartner projects digital transformation initiatives will take large traditional enterprises twice as long and cost twice as much as anticipated in 2020.


Prediction #2: Cyber security breaches result in IP theft and brand damage

2020 will be a watershed year for security breaches and cyber theft, which will cost businesses between seven and ten billion dollars, in addition to irreversible damage to their brands. Some will be perpetrated by hacktivists (someone who uses hacking to bring about political and social change) advancing their agenda and other attacks will be state-sponsored efforts to influence other governments, most notably in elections.

Sophisticated hackers will leverage 5G, IoT sensors, AI and quantum computing to shift their focus from simple ransomware to now take control of autonomous products and engage in IP theft. Several companies will have experienced the type of damage incurred by Equifax. As companies continue the acceleration of developing and manufacturing smart, connected products using dynamically changing supply chains with a myriad of systems, they’ll be likely targets.

The solution? To meet these challenges, there are a multitude of best practices which fall into categories of intrusion detection systems, upgrading all software, managing all security patches and adding multi-layered firewalls per applications.


Prediction #3: Major product failures result in brand damage

The Boeing 737 Max situation and other product failures were not isolated incidents. There will be more failures resulting in death, fines and serious damage to brands. The growing number of complex, transdisciplinary products that use more embedded software and electronic systems without treating the entire product as an interrelated one is a recipe for disaster. Managing hardware and software separately—in combination with deregulation—is going to end badly. Requirements, embedded software, electronic, electrical, mechanical, simulations, risk assessment, verification and validation test management need to be managed seamlessly across the lifecycle with greater oversight.


Prediction #4: Digital Twins begin to emerge

The real value of PLM is connecting the entire product lifecycle, which means linking downstream operations, such as field services, with engineering. With industrial platform services underpinning many large manufacturers, they are poised to connect downstream processes with engineering and realize configured Digital Twins for each of their assets in the field. We predict some major Fortune 100 companies will invest heavily in Digital Twin initiatives in order to manage their as-running assets, but more importantly, to derive value by driving new capabilities, upgrades, efficiencies and value.


Prediction #5 PLM expands

As products expand to include more integrated systems, greater personalization and more in-service changes, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are being forced to consider more partnerships, which we’ve already begun to see in the automotive industry. But the coordination of multiple disciplines, the growing need for simulation, dynamically changing supply chains and the need to manage as-running assets is causing the universe of PLM to expand.


This will be a challenging year for manufacturers, as the year ahead will be full of change. Those accepting a new reality and willing to anticipate the next phase of the economy will come out on top.

Now is not the time to pull back on investment in people, products and technology. The winners will be those manufacturers that continue to adapt and create complex, high-quality products that cost-effectively meet customer demand, all while creating innovations that enable them to do more with less. Companies will have to innovate, or they will be disrupted by those that do.

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