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For connected cars, product lifecycle management needs a digital turbo boost

Automakers can keep pace with fast-changing tastes by linking digital PLM with social media, analytics, mobility and the cloud.


Surging demand for connected vehicles offers fresh horizons for manufacturers yet also greatly increases complexity. Automakers must merge processes and tools to manage the interface between vehicle dashboards and software. They also need to keep pace with the latest apps to enable smartphone capabilities that consumers want in their vehicles.

To succeed, leading automakers will adopt digital product lifecycle management (PLM), which serves as a hub for product development. This approach enables digital dissemination of varied data among functions such as engineering, product development, supply chain management, manufacturing, services and marketing.

Digital PLM can help companies oversee the intricacies of complex processes, and be more agile and responsive to market opportunities. Automakers should consider optimizing Digital PLM by incorporating social media, analytics, big data, mobile, and cloud technologies.



In-car technology continues to excite the public, as seen at conventions such as the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Manufacturers are adjusting their strategies to succeed in a market being driven by digital technologies.

Drivers are twice as likely to choose vehicles based on in-car technology options than by performance, according to Accenture research.

The rise of the connected vehicle presents complex challenges to product development. Software giants are adding hardware solutions to their product portfolios, while hardware innovators are doing the same in reverse to gain a competitive advantage.

If ever there was a time for to accelerate development, it is today as automakers pursue success while technology companies put their best minds behind the wheel to disrupt the market.

Key Findings

Automakers need responsive and intelligent PLM networks that can capture the changing pulse of technology development and consumer sentiment. Digital PLM results in a highly interactive network with many more inter-connections than the linear model.

Conceptually, picture Digital PLM at the center. Surrounding the hub are all development processes (e.g., product concept through product retirement.)

The inherent advantage of Digital PLM is information flows between the central hub and all surrounding processes more directly, thereby enabling faster and varied back-and-forth transmission of data.

Along with helping automakers manage the rapid stream of in-car developments, digital PLM can turbo-charge their ability to innovate in the fast-evolving world of connected vehicles.


​Manufacturers are adjusting their competitive strategies to succeed in a market increasingly driven by innovations enabled by digital technology. As an example, one of the public's best-loved forms of large hardware—the automobile—is being enhanced with innovative applications.

The connected vehicle, which is dominating car-buying preferences, has given auto manufacturers a prime opportunity to strengthen their competitive position. To succeed, they must master product-development complexities relative to managing the influx of software and hardware applications needed to enable the latest in-car technologies.

A key challenge is determining how to manage product development while integrating the latest consumer-technology ad​vances in cars. One promising strategy is to adopt digital PLM.


Digital PLM is a flexible and high-powered approach that can help companies take advantage of new opportunities. Automakers should consider optimizing Digital PLM by incorporating:

Social Media. Solicit input for the next generation of in-car technology systems and services, and receive it much faster. Social media channels are efficient for receiving critical feedback on product performance.

Analytics and Big Data. Companies can see how consumers use in-car technologies, as well as know which capabilities are popular. Automakers can then use this information to prioritize ideas for new products.

Mobile. Customers, suppliers, employees and other stakeholders can communicate and participate in development more quickly and easily, thereby reducing wait time and boosting speed-to-market.

The Cloud. With its pay-per-use commercial framework, the cloud allows automakers to scale computing up and down during various phases of product development. This approach alleviates the need to continually build new engineering infrastructure.