2007: Autodesk CEO Takes A Verbal Baseball Bat to PLM

“There are only three companies in the world with a PLM problem,” says Autodesk CEO Carl Bass. “Their names are Dassault Systèmes, PTC, and UGS.” Originally published in CADCAMNET February 15, 2007

By Randall S. Newton
CADCAMNET Editor-in-Chief

Autodesk CEO Carl Bass

February 15, 2007—It was late in the day. The HVAC system in the small auditorium wasn’t keeping up. It was standing-room-only at “Autodesk World Press Day 2007” in San Francisco.

But when somebody asked Autodesk CEO Carl Bass a question about PLM, he lit up and acted as if the meeting had just started. Why, asked Brad Holtz of Cyon Research, is Autodesk big on Building Information Modeling (BIM)  but not interested in Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) for manufacturing, when they are two versions of the same concept.

Bass disagreed with the premise, noting that BIM is a way to inform the construction design/build process by uniting the stakeholders around a single building model. PLM, he said, does nothing of the sort.

“There are only three companies in the world that have a PLM problem,” said Bass, obviously glad he got the question. “Their names are Dassault Systèmes, PTC, and UGS. PLM is a marketing slogan created to satisfy the financial community.”

I’ve heard variations on this line from others at Autodesk in the past, but usually it was couched in terms of “democratizing PLM” or “bringing PLM in through the back door” with shrink-wrapped products. Today Bass made it clear where Autodesk stands in comparison to its three largest competitors, all of which have made PLM the center of their business.

“PLM is the exact opposite of what we do,” said Bass with a Cheshire Cat grin. “We enable people quickly… the other guys charge $20 million to implement engineering change orders online.”

Bass said that PLM is being sold to manufacturing companies as “bitter medicine–‘I gotta take it.’” There are “more
pragmatic, more digestible approaches” to solving engineering data management issues than PLM, he said. “[PLM] is a bizarre creation that won’t stand the test of time.”