PLM Interest Group














PLM in the Digital Age

PLM and Digital


The rise of Industrie 4.0, IIoT, connectivity, AI/AR, and related Digital technologies will have a major impact on PLM.  The possibilities and problems associated with this are only just surfacing.

Almost every company that undertakes Product Lifecycle Management also wants to take advantage of the new 'Digital' advances.  Boardroom attention is focusing on Digital as the shape of the future.

There is a vast amount of PLM experience that should be carried forward into this new Digital Age.  This can only happen if there is clear agreement on how the two disciplines relate to each other. Industrial companies need a template for applying PLM and Digital in real, effective manufacturing environments.

The PLMIG has partnered with Xlifecycle to establish the facts.


PLM in the Digital Age


The Digital Age Initiative

The Initiative began in April 2020 by addressing the question: "What will PLM practitioners of the future need to know about Digital Transformation in order to work professionally?"


Working together, the Professional PLM Initiative and Xlifecycle set out to provide some clarity to the debate.


The first milestone was a White Paper that established a point of reference that everyone can work from.

This was followed by an Industry Survey to discover the current views of PLM practitioners about the inter-relationship between PLM and the new Digital advances.

The Survey results revealed a wealth of ideas, but portrayed a generally confused picture of the future.  We need to rectify this, and so we have published a Position Paper to provide clarity, and an agreed base to move forward from.

The PLM-Digital Position Paper builds on the premise of the White Paper, and shapes the relatively unstructured findings of the Survey into a concise and easy to understand document.  The Position Paper has been published at Version 1.0, and feedback is invited from PLM practitioners everywhere.


PLM in the Digital Age


White Paper


At Board level, PLM and Digital are different worlds.  Digital is the latest thing: immensely complex, and may transform the way the company does business.  PLM is so last-century - an overhead that won't quite go away.

PLM has been on the path of creating an on-line, digital alter ego of the product for years.  It is precisely because PLM did start in the last century that PLM practitioners have developed such a wealth of expertise in how to manage this virtual world.

White Paper  

The drive to establish a new PLM Profession means that a clear definition of the relationship between PLM and Digital is needed.  Every PLM professional will need a full digital skill set to work effectively in the future.


This White Paper puts forward a neutral picture of the role of PLM in the future Digital landscape, and proposes a PLM-Digital Premise as the basis for any sound integration of PLM with the new Digital Wave.


It is intended to be the starting point for a widespread and open debate that will eventually establish how PLM and Digital relate to each other.

It is the aim of the Digital Age Initiative to generate a neutral, agreed position on this.  This will help enable product-oriented companies to establish their own PLM-Digital Roadmap that integrates the best opportunities of each discipline.

The White Paper, as published on 13 May 2020, has never been challenged, and therefore still stands as the starting point for an industry position on the Digital Wave.

You can see for yourself by downloading the White Paper here, and send your feedback (positive or negative) via .


PLM in the Digital Age


Industry Survey


Background discussions and Internet research during the creation of the White Paper had shown a confused picture, with thousands of opinions, and no consistency. But there was also a deeper issue. Some people felt that PLM is the platform on which new digital improvements should be constructed - but for others, PLM is now just a component part of a more important Digital Revolution.


As a first step, the White Paper had put forward a simple, neutral, straightforward Premise for aligning PLM and Digital.


This was followed up by an Industry Survey that ran throughout June, to gather opinions and ideas from PLM practitioners to guide future progress in both disciplines.  Participants from 12 countries answered 5 questions in their own words, with additional scope for freestyle comment.


The questions covered how PLM and Digital differ now, and whether they will merge; whether there is an adequate forward view and vision of the future; how the Digital Twin and Digital Thread differ in the two approaches; and whether PLM needs to evolve to adapt to the 'Factory of the Future'.

Participation in the Survey was open to PLM users, vendors, service providers, consultants, academics and researchers - in fact, every PLM practitioner who is affected by, would like to be involved with, or is participating in a Digital programme.

The results have been compiled into a Survey Overview Document that anyone can download.  The Overview lists the results, discusses the implications and offers conclusions about how PLM practitioners can advance towards and merge with the Digital Wave.

Feedback on the Survey results and conclusions is welcome.  You can download the Survey Overview here, and see what you think of the ideas.


PLM in the Digital Age


Position Paper


The Position Paper is now at the centre of the PLM-Digital debate.  The document is designed to work for three audiences:-

  • PLM practitioners who want to understand how to work with Digital colleagues;
  • Digital specialists who need to understand the role and impact of PLM;
  • Board members who need a clear overview of the whole scenario.

Position Paper  

Within many organisations, PLM and Digital initiatives are separate entities, and their inter-relationship is confused - despite the fact that the two must come together somehow in any strategy for the future.


This lack of clarity is a problem for PLM professionals (who need to equip themselves with the skill set for 5 and 10 years' time); and for Digital practitioners, who risk implementation failures if PLM principles are not understood.


This Paper sets out a practical approach to aligning the role of Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) in the evolving Digital landscape, and for embedding PLM in any future Digital environment.

The Paper explains the Context in terms of the changes that are likely to happen in Future Manufacturing, alongside the views of PLM practitioners as expressed in the Survey.  It then sets out the Position Statement in two concise pages.

This Version 1.0 Position Paper is offered as the basis for an industry-wide discussion. Feedback is welcome from all PLM practitioners and leaders, in any role and from any part of the industry.


Add Your Feedback


The aim is for this Position Paper to become an industry reference point, enabling companies to include PLM in their Digital initiatives and showing PLM practitioners how they should approach the future.

Feedback is invited on any aspect of the document, from content to layout, and on errors and omissions. We will incorporate this and then release an updated Version 2.0.

Download a copy and send us your views via .

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