Inspiration for this post:
The SMB market has been receiving increased attention in the PLM space this year. Vendors are jockeying for position in that large and burgeoning market. As a result, competition has heated up among the established players, and we all know who they are, right?
Or do we?
DEXMA Labs has recently jumped into the fray by introducing a beta version of their new PLM software DEXMA PLM+. It is designed specifically for the SMB market. Offering the same data management and process automation capabilities as the big enterprise PLM vendors, they also up the ante by including features such as project management, task management, and both part and material cataloging. And all this is delivered via a tidy SaaS based cloud implementation that promises implementation and licensing costs far less than the competing traditional solutions. Certainly based on the conversations I've had with customers in the SMB space, those bottom-line costs are their biggest concern.
Not to turn this into a product review, but I did also want to say that during my brief exploration of the DEXMA PLM+ online demo there was one thing that stood out to me; The lack of complexity presented to the user. The amount of data that PLM software must track is enormous. But the sum total of that data doesn't matter to each individual user. Everyone's role is different, and thus the information they care about is different. DEXMA's initial approach is clearly targeted at the needs of engineers and designers. It helps them to find, create, or edit the information they need, then steps aside to let them do their job. What's not to love about that?
From my standpoint, DEXMA's strategy certainly sounds as though it could potentially resonate well in that market, but there are certainly hurdles they must overcome in order to successfully claim a significant portion of it.
The first is that DEXMA Labs (a subsidiary of ASCON, the established Russian CAD software maker best known for Kompass 3D) is a new and unknown face for many customers in North America. Their biggest competitors all have established mature distribution and marketing channels. This certainly isn't an insurmountable problem for them. But it is a problem nonetheless.
The second hurdle is a bit easier to overcome. Cloud-based solutions are still new in the engineering software space and lots of customers are pushing back against even at the mere mention of the word 'cloud'. That push back comes from users as well as IT professionals. In the case of users it's often more about them not liking change. But the reality is that most people care more about getting information, than where it actually comes from. They want data where ever they are, and no matter what device they are using there. The cloud can make that happen. That resistance will simply erode over time.
IT people on the other hand do care about where data comes from, and to many of them, the thought of data being hosted outside the corporate firewall that they control is simply out of the question. In the case of DEXMA, they can address this concern by offering an on-premise deployment option that runs on LINUX, Windows, or Mac hardware, a JBOSS application server, and a PostgreSQL database platform. This makes for the sort of cloud that can make any IT guy feel feel warm and fuzzy.
It will be interesting to see the final product that shakes out from this beta, and how they address the needs of users beyond those in the product design chair. But I get the feeling DEXMA Labs may be on to something here.
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