The Keyword Is FlexPLM: Day 2 at PTC/USER World Conference 2010

  • Written By: Yu Chen
  • Published: June 9 2010

Following the general opening session presented by keynote speaker Peter Burrows, CIO Emeritus, Head of Enterprise Architecture, adidas Group, the media and analyst discussion session with Burrows allowed me to learn more details about adidas' FlexPLM implementation.

In addition, I also had a 1:1 interview with Kathleen Mitford, VP, Product and Marketing Strategy focusing on the consumer products, retail, footwear, and apparel industries, to learn FlexPLM's achievements and product roadmap of FlexPLM.

After all that, I have to give my personal Day Two keyword to "FlexPLM." As to my keyword for Day One, I believe it was "strategy," as I indicated in my previous blog post.

For people who are not familiar with FlexPLM, this is a tailored and enhanced solution specifically for planning, product development, and sourcing for apparel, footwear, accessories, and consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers and retailers. FlexPLM is developed based on the Windchill platform, with PDMLink serving as the core for product data management. If you want to know more functionality details about this solution, you can start from FlexPLM's page in TEC's Vendor Showcase.

FlexPLM is doing quite well. As Kathleen Mitford said, it's the fastest growing industry solution within the Windchill family during the past four years. My estimate is that FlexPLM now accounts for somewhere between 10 and 20 percent of the revenue that PTC generates from Windchill. To a company that has a strong engineering orientation with a much shorter history of involvement in the fashion and retail industry, this is a very significant achievement.

Although the fashion and retail vertical is quite different from other industries that PTC targets, the FlexPLM team benefits from the strengths of being PTC and the advantages of having Windchill, and this is not the end of the story. I believe that there is a lot more that FlexPLM can do in the context of leveraging PTC's product portfolio.

Tie In More Windchill Components

There are many more components under the Windchill umbrella for which FlexPLM can explore enhancement in the future. Current FlexPLM addresses the most urgent business requirements that customers have. For the time being, after the harvest of the low-hanging fruit, customers may start exploring more opportunities to expand the scope of their PLM systems to cover a more holistic product lifecycle. A few areas I can think of are:

  • PPMLink for product portfolio management: fashion and CPG manufacturers (especially those large companies) can use this component to optimize their current product portfolios and make better decisions on product development initiatives.

  • ProductPoint for social product development: although some companies have already started practicing social product development, most of them are doing this with siloed software applications. Deploying social product development within the PLM framework is the right direction to go.

  • MPMLink for manufacturing process management (MPM): this might not be a big concern for many retailers and brand owners in North America and Europe since most of the manufacturing work has been outsourced to lower-labor-cost countries. But for those who actually fulfill the production orders and those fast-growing domestic brands in the emerging markets, MPM is in need.

Create Synergy with Other PTC Product Lines

As I posted yesterday, Windchill no longer represents the entire picture of PLM that PTC offers. Other PTC brands such as Arbortext, InSight, and Relex are becoming more and more relevant to users' entire PLM strategy. FlexPLM users should consider taking the advantages of the synergies among PTC's different product lines. A no-brainer is InSight. While seeing the increasing demand of being green in the fashion and retail industries, I'm expecting to see FlexPLM users adopt InSight in the near future.

As I discussed in my previous blog posts Managing Trees versus Managing Grass and The Two Driving Forces Behind Fashion Products, the industries that FlexPLM is serving have a lot of specificities in product features and business processes. That being said, FlexPLM has got a great foundation for progression, as well as a lot of work lined up ahead.
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