The year is 2016, and to be honest, it still amazes me when people don’t understand the benefits of the cloud, especially when it comes to product development. A company can have its finances, customer records, employee records, essentially all of it’s business systems in the cloud, but the engineering team digs in its collective heels at the thought of moving product data away from that 20-year old on-premises application.

Perhaps there’s a more basic question to answer: Why move product development to the cloud?

Answer #1 is Security

If you want to secure your product data, then move it to the cloud. From lost laptops to the pervasive threat of hacking and malware, having product data in the cloud ensure your data will be safe and available. However, in a recent survey by, the top reason for not considering the cloud — a whopping 48% of respondents — is the fear of losing control of intellectual property. So what gives? How can security be the top reason for choosing and not choosing to move product development to the cloud.

Intuitively, it seems that keeping your IP on your own systems would be safer than moving sensitive data to the public cloud. This logic is flawed. The public cloud, (e.g., Salesforce cloud platform), is more secure than your network (Infoworld article “The Public Cloud is More Secure than your Data Center”). Companies like Amazon and Salesforce have a huge target on their networks and are much more diligent, paranoid, attentive and proactive about security than your IT team. Their business requires it.

Cloud providers also use modern technology. A typical small company uses a mix of technologies from different eras. The aging infrastructure is often less secure and opens up more gaps for hackers to exploit. With an ever-increasing number of attacks, defenses also need to be proactive. Most enterprise IT organizations don’t have the resources to be as proactive and diligent as a public cloud provider. Therefore, the cloud is safer than your data center. You should move product development to the cloud to protect your IP.

Answer #2 is old PLM doesn’t support your current IT strategy

Part of the IT team’s responsibility is to deliver innovation and value to business users by selecting and supporting various applications. For many, it includes the 20-year old on-prem PLM system. Users complain about the UI, and the inflexibility of the system that forces them to use separate apps to do their work. The bottom line is that the old system is too inflexible to support the current business model and only a few people actually use it. And to top it off, you are paying a fortune to stay on support, and were just told that there will be no more updates to the product. If your company’s needs have evolved beyond the capabilities of on-prem PLM, or beyond a reasonable budget for supporting PLM, then it it’s time to move product development to the cloud.

Answer #3 is cloud PLM supports your updated business strategy

An engineering manager may question whether his current PLM and engineering strategy is a roadblock to effective product innovation and new product launch. An ambitious organization tries to hire the next generation of brilliant engineers and designers. The best and the brightest demand the latest design and development tools, otherwise, they will go somewhere else. Even though the soon-to-retire, senior engineers are perfectly content on the 20-year old on-prem PLM, it’s time to move your product development to a modern, cloud PLM.

Your company may have revised its business strategy, requiring shorter design cycles, while increasing the number of new product releases. The updated approach may require more outsourced design and manufacturing resources, and tighter coordination with your sales team to quickly revise product features based on customer feedback. And you need to work with marketing on tight deadlines to make sure promotion and launch is in sync. Your old PLM doesn’t allow for collaboration outside of engineering, and you outgrew managing launches by spreadsheet and emails. It’s time to modernize your PLM for the 21st century. The answer is to move product development to the cloud to support today’s business strategy.

Answer #4 is cloud PLM is flexible and cost effective

If you have not moved to the cloud yet, then you are behind and you know it. The advantages are clear and already achieved with other enterprise apps like Office 365, Google apps, Atlasssian, etc. The benefits to a company and its end users are readily apparent with increased efficiency and collaboration, lower total cost of ownership (TCO), utilization efficiency, hardware cost savings, etc.

With regards to product development, cloud PLM enables collaboration and project management with designers, engineers, sales and others within and outside of the organization. Everyone can securely access the information they need, wherever and whenever. All can be kept in the loop as to the progress and timelines of product development and product launch. In addition, utilizing the Salesforce cloud platform is secure, reliable, and easily customizable. That’s why Propel chose to build it’s modern cloud PLM solution on the Salesforce platform. Cloud PLM gives you the flexibility and cost effectiveness that on-prem PLM doesn’t have.

And although the oldest engineers may complain and object, the IT team, sales, marketing, and the Millennials in product engineering, and most importantly, your customers will definitely agree… it’s time to move product development to the cloud.

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Ann Latham

Dec 05, 2016