Manufacturers understand the benefits of adopting Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) on the cloud—especially in today’s environment where cloud-based solutions have proven to provide enterprise systems the business agility they need. Yet when it comes to PLM on the cloud, many are leaving value unrealized. Find out three actions to help ensure that the PLM on the cloud delivers value for both IT and for the business.

By Matthew Thomas and Abhi Dastidar, Accenture

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The benefits of moving to the cloud: Improved agility, reduced costs, simpler administration, and more. More difficult is the journey to cloud because of its obstacles to navigate. | Image: Accenture 

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What manufacturer doesn’t want to deliver advanced PLM capabilities at speed to the business—at the right cost? None that we know, that’s for sure. But the hard truth is that this is easier said than done.

Many of our clients—across industrial equipment, consumer goods, components and others—are struggling with a PLM application landscape that’s inefficient, often outdated, and therefore ill-equipped to support the development of the next-generation of highly-configurable and smart products. This is a massive liability.


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What's the challenge?

Manufacturers know the value of adopting PLM on the cloud, but they aren’t maximizing their investments.

What's the stake?

Manufacturers’ ability to move PLM to the cloud can make or break speed to market, productivity and future competitiveness.

What's the opportunity?

With a successful approach to PLM on the cloud, manufacturers can improve product development and innovation capabilities.

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Looking up to the cloud

Not only do we see this issue every day, but our clients are keenly aware that they have it. That’s why many are adopting a two-pronged approach to modernize their PLM landscape and using PLM on cloud as their deployment model to develop products more efficiently, save costs and get the necessary platform flexibility for today’s industrial era. In fact, we conducted a survey that shows that 52 percent of companies cite public cloud as THE preferred option for PLM.


Goodbye, 800-lb gorilla

But here’s the challenge—the 800-pound gorilla that no one likes to talk about. Despite all this energy—and investment—in PLM on cloud. It’s astonishing, really.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. The benefits of moving to the cloud are within your reach—whether you want new capabilities delivered with agility via a robust DevOps pipeline, reduced infrastructure costs, or the scalability of cloud services in security, analytics, simulation and other areas. Our experience has taught us three actions that can help ensure your PLM migration to cloud meets your expectations.

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  1. Migrate right. The first step in the migration is developing a strong business case. After all, decision makers are assessing investments with intense scrutiny amid today’s volatile economic climate. This means justifying the solution from a value perspective, getting stakeholder buy-in and committing to the cloud journey. We often see organizations struggling here, and have found that using a proven value assessment calculator helps clients to fully understand all of the value levers and uncover hidden potential.
    We caution our clients against building a business case using yesterday’s thinking. We ask them not to take on-premise assumptions and models and attempt to “lift and shift” them to the cloud. This is a false equivalency that leads to untapped benefits. There has to be rationalization and modernization—a “house cleaning” to make the environment cloud ready. Lastly, organizations must break through barriers between business and IT and build the business case to accommodate both perspectives.
  2. Accelerate benefits. To maximize the benefits of moving PLM to the cloud, we find that clients often want to explore a managed services model. They see it as an opportunity to drastically reduce PLM operating costs using automation, scale and innovative capabilities of application and infrastructure services.
    When you have a high-capacity and easily-scalable infrastructure and 24/7 support, your organization can get the access to engineering information it needs to make decisions very quickly. There are also built-in protections that safeguard the environment, keeping it highly available and supporting strong business continuity. The last few months of living and working amid the COVID-19 pandemic have taught all of us just how important this kind of capability is.
  3. Totally transform. With the PLM foundation on cloud in place delivering the right capabilities to the business, your organization is well positioned to transform how it executes product development. This is not about incremental change. It is about breakthrough change. The reality is that industry trends are pushing manufacturers to develop digital thread and digital twin capabilities to drive innovation and new product development processes. The hard truth? Doing this well demands modern PLM tools implemented on the cloud. Leaders know this allows them to deliver capabilities to the business at speed while reducing ongoing PLM support costs.
    Put another way, the next-generation capabilities that support a connected ecosystem in product engineering and development—such as artificial IoT, AI and product data analytics—are typically built in the cloud. To take full advantage of them, it’s critical to confirm that your analytics architecture supports your technology stack and necessary capabilities, prioritize use cases based on business outcomes, and ensure you have the appropriate level of data fidelity to support them.

Becoming truly cloud ready

These recommendations come from real-world experience, not from untested theory. They reflect the work we’re doing with organizations like yours. They also inform the development of assets, tools and accelerators that deliver PLM on cloud transformation with less cost and risk of business disruption.


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up to 60%

savings in infrastructure operations.


reduction in security efforts

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As part of our commitment to helping our manufacturing clients become cloud ready, we’ve worked with Siemens and Microsoft to develop the Siemens Digital Industries Software on Microsoft Azure solution. It’s a way that you can deliver the product and innovation capabilities the business needs faster and with less risk.

Our guiding principles in creating this solution were zero disruptions, a strong outcomes focus and delivery confidence. An automotive OEM found this out first hand when we helped the company migrate, test and launch Teamcenter to Azure Cloud. They reduced infrastructure costs by 60 percent, supported 2,000 users at peak and benefited from 260 terabytes of storage and six terabytes of metadata.

Wherever you are in your PLM to cloud journey, the likelihood is that we’ve been there before. We understand that the stakes are high for you to maximize business value and drive innovation. We have the insights and the tools to help you reach your goals with maximum impact—long before your competitors do.


About the authors

Matthew Thomas and Abhi Dastidar

Matthew is Managing Director at Accenture within Industry X and leads the Engineering X practice for North America and Siemens Alliance Partnership. He has more than 20 years of experience in engineering and manufacturing. Get in touch with him via LinkedIn.

Abhi leads Accenture’s Siemens go-to-market activities for Industry X. He has 20 years of experience in PLM and deep functional and technical expertise in Siemens Digital Industry Software solutions. Please meet him via LinkedIn.

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