As the product development process and product usage creates higher volumes of data, PLM is a necessary tool to consolidate disparate sources of product information. From this repository, engineering can use product usage data to inform next generation products, operations can improve product development processes, and business stakeholders can focus on linking products to holistic customer experiences. These opportunities reveal the benefit of opening PLM up to stakeholders beyond the product development organization, thus bringing the customer closer to product ideation and development. 

A catalyzing functionality in this democratization of PLM are role-based applications which open once-complicated PLM software solutions to new users across the organization.  These applications improve usability, solution adoption, time-to-market, and collaboration by incorporating more cross-functional input to the product development process.  PLM vendors, large and small, are rolling out role-based application modules for customers, and end user buyers say they are beginning to get requests from their internal constituents for this type of functionality. 

In my new report, “TechRadar: Product Lifecycle Management, Q1 2017” we investigated the current state of role-based apps and 18 other important technology categories in PLM, including several that point to the democratization of PLM tools.  We assessed four factors for each of the included TechRadar categories: 1) the current business value; 2) the potential to add more business value in the future (i.e., the overall trajectory, from minimal success to significant success); 3) the current market maturity (i.e., “ecosystem phase”); and 4) the time to reach the next stage of maturity.  To see our assessment of the 18 technology categories as well as vendors that provide them, click here