From frustrating file management to the convenience of cloud, as technology has advanced over time so too has PLM.

PLM was once a humble, paper-based system that tended to be slow, fragmented and a little disorderly, making innovation and product development a huge challenge. Think of your current PLM system but every document, spec and drawing is on paper. Change management meant walking around with an inter-office envelope collecting signatures and revision control was pretty much nonexistent.

Eventually, PLM became rudimentary desktop software. This improved collaboration and speed, but collaboration was only possible internally. Each location was an island with an independent system. Reuse and efficiency rates were in the basement and communication was spotty at best.

With the Internet, PLM went global. Locations all around the world – Paris, Mumbai, Shanghai and Houston – were finally connected in a way that allowed for easier collaboration. What Group B knew no longer depended on Group A's ability to share it – they all knew (and saw) the same thing.

The latest tech boost for PLM is, of course, the cloud. Today, not only are companies global, individual functions are too, with engineers in different time zones collaborating on the design of the very same component. In the cloud, PLM is free of desktop installations and other limitations, enabling true real-time collaboration and sharing of big data. And customers and suppliers are incorporated right into product development and innovation processes. With the cloud, speed increases, innovation increases, and profits increase. Who doesn't like that?

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