Most IT people are squarely focused on back office systems that are highly automated. Increasingly, however, it turns out that a lot more IT opportunity lies outside of the traditional office than inside.
One of those areas is known as product lifecycle management (PLM). Ask anybody who manufactures anything and they will tell you it’s getting more complex and automated. First, a lot more technology is being embedded into everything, and secondly a lot more in the way of components from multiple sources is going into every new product. All that complexity needs to be managed, which is why Accenture recently acquired PCO Innovation, which is the second time Accenture has acquired an IT services firm with PLM expertise. The first one was PRION Group earlier this year.
According to Sergio Colella, managing director for Accenture, with manufacturers collaborating with more companies than ever, a critical need exists for a more structured way for them to not only collaborate with one another, but also to make sure trade secrets don’t inadvertently fall into the wrong hands. Just as importantly, Colella notes that delayed product development can cost companies millions of dollars in lost sales opportunities, which is one of the major reasons so many companies are now keen to invest in PLM.
Colella says delivering PLM systems will require a mix of cloud and on-premise technologies that represent about an $8 billion market. Much of that activity is being driven by the Internet of Things trend that is seeing almost every product in one form or another being connected to the Internet.
At a time when back-office systems are increasingly being automated, PLM may represent a new IT frontier opportunity to apply some innovative thinking. After all, back-office systems are moving towards being able to pretty much run themselves in data centers where the servers far outnumber the humans. In contrast, PLM specifically, and the Internet of Things in general, is still in its infancy. In the years ahead, both should generate a lot of demand for people with the IT skills needed to create a new generation of products and services that will be more dependent on IT than ever.