SAP: We're ahead of Oracle, Siemens in PLM

Kongsberg Automotive, which uses the SAP PLM suite to manage its product data, is looking forward to enhancements that will improve its ability to collaborate with supply chain partners.


SAP admits to having gaps to fill in its product life-cycle management (PLM) solution set. Still it contends it already offers more of what PLM users really need than either Oracle or Siemens —two large vendors

“From the outset, our philosophy on PLM has been different than most of the other vendors in this space,” says Kerstin Geiger, SAP’s senior VP of solution management for discrete industries. “We have seen customers’ major problem as needing to create a way for data to flow seamlessly across lines of business and across companies. Most of the other PLM vendors are coming from the CAD environment. They don’t have the capabilities that we have for tracking costs or connecting to sourcing, ERP, and supply chain systems.”

In early August, SAP unveiled a road map outlining its strategy for enhancing its PLM solutions between now and 2010. It also admitted to feeling compelled to publicize these plans because of the attention that Oracle and Siemens have garnered for their respective PLM acquisitions.

Siemens, known primarily for developing hardware and software to automate and manage production processes, entered the PLM arena with a $3.5-billion acquisition of UGS in May.

Oracle closed its $495-million purchase of Agile Software , which specializes in building infrastructures for companies to share product-related data with contract manufacturers, in July.

Since finalizing these purchases, both Oracle and Siemens executives say their intention is to give users tools for sharing product data across enterprises and supply chains.

Ann Arbor, Mich.-based CIMdata calls the non-CAD portion of the market collaborative PDM —or cPDm—and it says SAP recorded more revenue in this segment than any other vendor in 2006.

Geiger argues that SAP already has better cPDM functionality than either Oracle or Siemens, adding that “our decision to make further investments [in PLM solutions] says we don’t feel we are where we need to be.”

Geiger says customers can expect these enhancements


Moving forward: Kongsberg Automotive, which uses the SAP PLM suite to manage its product data, is looking forward to enhancements that will improve its ability to collaborate with supply chain partners.

In developing these enhancements, SAP plans to make heavy use of its service-oriented architecture, which supports the creation of composite applications. Geiger says the first major enhancement—the new portfolio-management capability—is scheduled to be released as a composite application later this year.

That will be followed by the new user interfaces sometime next year. Geiger says there could be as many as 10 new interfaces, with most designed to serve occasional PLM system users. “We have been looking at the profiles of people who need to view PLM data, but are not heavy users of the system,” Geiger says. “We want to give them access to the information they need without having to undergo intensive training.”

Per Höberg, senior project manager at Kongsberg Automotive , a Norwegian company that makes gear shifts, seats, and other vehicle components, agrees that

Kongsberg relies primarily on the CATIA package from Dassault Systemes to design its products, but Höberg says the decision to adopt SAP PLM was easy because the company also uses the SAP ERP suite. “It offered the highest probability of synergy with the rest of the business,” says Höberg, who adds that he is looking forward to SAP’s planned PLM enhancements, particularly those that will support supply chain collaboration.

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