SAP PLM (product lifecycle management) is emerging as a growth area in the enterprise in general. This is hardly a surprise, seeing how innovation is becoming the key competitive factor in the global marketplace. That means ERP vendors like SAP, Oracle, IFS and others have to stay on the ball to retain and up-sell existing customers.
Today, SAP upped the ante with a slew of PLM enhancements. We can expect new portfolio planning processes and portfolio management capabilities by the end of this year, followed by an extensive interface overhaul of the SAP PLM interface in 2008. This move will cut down on manual tasks and training time. 2009 and 2010 will see even further integration support, along with tidbits like new product information management capabilities and enhanced RFID/barcode functionality.
This is part of SAP’s plan to outmaneuver arch-rival Oracle, which in turn made headlines with its $495 million Agile acquisition earlier this year. But is SAP equipped to pull this off? Blogger Chris Kelley is skeptical. PLM is ‘messy’ by nature; it has to be flexible, juggle multiple input sources and so on in real time, he said. The strength of ERP titans like SAP has always been that rock-solid structure that prevents messiness.
“PLM is just too different from what they are good at,” Kelley said. “It’s too ‘miscellaneous’. Its too dynamic. Its too creative.”
Roy Wildeman, senior analyst for Forrester, doesn’t agree.
“Manufacturers that are also SAP ERP customers will want to investigate SAP’s PLM offering,” Wildeman said. “[Look closely at] the potential integration benefits from interdependent process areas like project and portfolio management, direct material sourcing, and configuration management.”
Stay tuned as we follow up with SAP career expert Jon Reed’s take on what this PLM growth trend brings in terms of new job opportunities tomorrow.