An unusual period in history, the COVID-19 pandemic is creating a budget paradox for technology and IT departments worldwide. On one hand, the pandemic is creating a liquidity crunch for troubled companies reeling under the impact of restrictions and lockdowns. On the other, the necessity of a comprehensive digital transformation is growing loud and clear as survival increasingly equates to digital preparedness. Virtually every company is feeling the impact of market and business disruptions on their revenues. As cash flows dry up, companies are forced to rationalize their budgets for technologies critical for immediate survival. These include work from home technologies and remote collaboration tools, as brick-and-mortar offices shift online. Technologies like VPN, virtual desktops, remote desktops which typically take months and years to prioritize for companies that have resisted going digital are today witnessing accelerated adoption spanning mere days and weeks. Broader and bigger CAPEX heavy technologies like Internet of things (IoT), automation/smart factories, block chain, artificial intelligence(AI), 3D printing have hit a paradox. These technologies remain vital now more than ever for resilient, long-term, digital infrastructures capable of driving future-of-work, future-of-connectedness, future-of-operations, future-of-data management and connectedness and digital innovations.
The immediate financial impact on companies however is resulting in a huge reduction in non-essential spending and investments. The definition of non-essential, however, remains fluid and is largely determined by a company's financial reserve and strength. For large companies with the financial muscle to sustain planned spending, investments in these technologies will remain unchanged and will be an essential digital strategy for navigating through the current crisis and its future implications. For companies with financial limitations, delayed investments will be inevitable as survival and damage limitation comes foremost. For these companies, many Industry 4.0 and automation solutions currently being considered or being deployed fall into the category of non-essential business activities. Against this backdrop, Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)joins the ranks of non-essential IT spending. Demand is expected to decline in 2020 by -2.3% only to reemerge stronger as a new world post pandemic emerges with a renewed focus on digital engineering. The global market is projected to reach a revised size of US$64.3billion by the year 2027. In the post COVID-19 period, as companies correct their digital strategies to ensure better technology and competitive preparedness in the future, PLM will need to be made future-proof, scalable & flexible.
The ability to generate and manage product data in design, engineering and manufacturing stages can never be overemphasized. A resilient approach to disruptive changes in product design will therefore be crucial for manufacturers of tomorrow. Between the period 2000 to 2019, average product lifecycle has shortened by 50%, while product complexity has increased by 3X. In the IoT connected future, product design and functionality will become complex requiring PLM to transcend beyond the conventional role of managing CAD files and coordinating mechanical design processes. Virtually, every product in the projected world of 60 billion active connected devices by 2022will feature design complexity involving onboard electronics and communications technologies, which will require new generation AI driven PLM to address product development and innovation challenges. In the midst of new materials, regulatory compliance needs, new manufacturing processes, design optimization needs, simulations, marketing, maintenance to recycling, PLM will play a pivotal role in coordinating information, data, processes and people associated with a product's complex lifecycle.
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