What Does the Future of Manufacturing Software Look Like Now?

By Kristin McLane, President of CIMx Software

Dassault Systemes recently announced the purchase of Apriso, apparently to acquire the manufacturing market in India… so what does that mean for manufacturers around the world?

In a press release that went out May 29, 2013, Dassault Systemes, a company based in Velizy-Villacoublay, France, announced the intent to purchase Apriso, a Long Beach, California, based manufacturing software solution provider.

DMO-Question-Mark-121012CIMx Software has been supplying manufacturing software solutions for more than 17 years.  We know the industry, and have seen multiple consolidations of vendors.  Any time there is an acquisition, you can’t help but take a moment and consider what it means for the customer.  The world, and our industry, is changing (which isn’t a surprise… change happens, and change seems to be the only constant in manufacturing) and now is a good time to think about where we are going.

As corporations slowly acquire manufacturing software companies, there are fewer choices for customers.  One result we’ve seen time and again is the acquisition increases costs and reduces the ability of customers to get support.  This happens often… remember the telecom industry when Ma Bell, or the Bell Operating Companies, was split into separate companies to break up the monopoly on telephone service.  And now the companies are slowly reacquiring each other and building the mega-corporation again… so what has this done for phone service?  How difficult is it to compare prices or services from each company?  What will this do for service costs, or product upgrades (because, as we know, manufacturing is always changing and upgrades are necessary).

How will this affect current Apriso customers, or customers looking for an MES?  Articles have said the acquisition will help Dassault in India, but what does it mean for current Apriso customers?  Both companies have done a good job explaining how the services of each company will be integrated, but it does little to address the current base who, honestly, are most affected by this acquisition.  At one time, Dassault and Apriso were partners, and apparently offered a, “… best-in-class, pre-configured solution,” and maybe pre-configuration will help as they integrate of services and products.  But, it is difficult to imagine the Dassault 3DExperience integrating seamlessly with Apriso’s Flexnet.  Only time will tell if acquisitions are truly good for industry.  Perhaps they are different enough products ensuring a smooth integration, but manufacturers don’t care about that… they want to know what it means for them and their current business.

What does it mean for the future of our industry?

Manufacturing has always thrived on innovation, minimizing risk and cost. Innovation is not acquisition, and increasing a service footprint doesn’t seem like a path to minimizing risk and cost.  I don’t have all the answers, but now is a good time to ask questions.  We’ll have to wait and see what the future holds, and keep asking ourselves what does it mean for the future of our industry?

This is an important topic, and one that deserves a longer look.  Leave a comment, ask a question, and let us know what you are thinking.  Stop back here for the next few days as we take a look at this issue and what it means for our business.

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