By Ken Versprille, CPDA

The Board of Directors-level decision at Daimler AG to shift all their product development to the Siemens PLM Software tool stack has dramatically shattered the complacent mindset that had been growing in automotive product lifecycle management (PLM) circles these past few years. The belief that Dassault Systèmes had captured and would retain a lion's share of European automotive OEMs was held by many executive insiders and industry observers alike.

Once again, whenever the PLM industry seems to be following a predicable, steady direction, a major event occurs that forces all of us to reevaluate our assumptions and opinions.Collaborative Product Development Associates, LLC (CPDA) was privately briefed on the Daimler decision by executives of Siemens PLM Software. Chuck Grindstaff, President and Chief Technology Officer, explained that Daimler conducted an extensive eighteen month evaluation of the Siemens PLM Software products, the Dassault Systèmes product stack, and a potential mix of the two.

The outcome of their lengthy and detailed efforts resulted in a decision in Siemens' favor. Automotive and aerospace have always been the two leading industries against which PLM software vendors have been measured. Who could win and keep the big accounts? Hundreds of millions of dollars/euros are at stake, not just from the big OEM itself but from the pull-through of their extensive supply chain companies. The image leadership of being the PLM vendor of record at one of the "lighthouse" accounts in automotive or aerospace cannot be overestimated. Product development companies across all industry verticals take critical note of the PLM vendor chosen by the leaders.

It can often tip their own decision in a similar direction.In automotive, the last few years have seen a number of OEM accounts rethink their PLM choice. However, no great surprise changes happened. Nissan and General Motors stayed with the Siemens PLM Software stack. In each case the common belief was those decisions simply continued from their current use and the cost of a change could not be justified. The Chrysler decision to switch from Dassault to Siemens' products was muddied by the involvement of Fiat and their use of Siemens.

Only the Ford decision to move to Dassault products with CATIA stood as a potential bellwether shift. Many believed however, that it was more a rejection of unsatisfactory years working with the I-deas solution that Siemens acquired.Daimler's shift to a Siemens PLM solution represents a true bellwether change. Industry experts will debate the reasons and implications for endless hours. Did Dassault's V6 product strategy influence the Daimler decision after years of transition to V5? Is the Daimler shift an isolated decision or does it reflect something larger happening in the automotive industry or in the PLM industry? More likely, a number of influences directed the Daimler decision.

What the full industry will have to await is whether there will be any continued ripple effect across automotive and other industry verticals.

Ken Versprille, PhD is the PLM Research Director at Collaborative Product Development Associates (CPDA).

 

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