Although there are many differences, and many other reasons for their success, both software companies are, in part, successful because of the failings of another industry’s functionality and user interface.
Ask any PLM vendor and they will say that they support manufacturing. Truth be told, they have products designed and built for the design engineer and management of design projects. The user interface is designed by engineers and for engineers. The schemas and taxonomies of the PLM system do not support the workings of the manufacturing shop, and the user interface is way too complex for the casual user. In the case of CIMx Software, there have been numerous attempts by the engineering organizations at CIMx customers to ‘standard ize’ on the PLM environment for manufacturing and shop floor. At one particulart customer, there were close to 1/2 dozen ‘pilots’ of the PLM system in manufacturing engineering. They all failed to provide what CIMx had out of the box.
The same can be said for ERP ‘eProc’ applications and Vinimaya. If ERP vendors provided simple federated search across all of their internal and external suppliers with a user interface like Google or Amazon, there would be no need for SmartSearch™. That’s not the case. eProc systems tend to have the same laborious click-heavy, multi-screen UI issues as most ERP and PLM functions.
Why is this so? It boils down to two elements, legacy and domain expertise.
1) Legacy. One of my favorite quotes about the software industry is “God created the universe in six days because he didn’t have an installed base”. It is extremely difficult for established vendors in a particular space (ERP, PLM) to completely re-write their large monolithic systems. They can certainly apply a web ‘veneer’ and update icons and other visual elements, but it’s the same old code underneath.
2) Domain Expertise. I recall the amazement in the voice of a colleague in the MES space when he had to explain to their PLM partner the concept of a work order. You may know the technology behind and engineering bill of materials backwards and forwards, but that does not mean your expertise has any value down on the shop floor.
So, where do you want to live, Mr. ERP vendor? Mr. PLM vendor? The more you decide to venture outside of your area of core competence, the more you will have to be concerned about functionality and UI, and the less likely you will be able to compete with the likes of CIMx and Vinimaya.