In the fourth in a new, exclusive series of interviews from TexProcess 2013, our Editor, Ben Hanson, follows up with Paul Magel, President of Application Solutions at Computer Generated Solutions (CGS), about ‘true’ business value, and what he sees as the key drivers for PLM adoption today.
Ben Hanson: Generally speaking, do you feel that trade fairs like TexProcess still have a place when such a wealth of information is available online?
Paul Magel: In an increasingly online world, I think trade shows with a horizontal focus are becoming a thing of the past, but shows like Texprocess, which form such an integral part of the industry, provide the platform for people to engage and interact on a much more personal level. We’ve noticed a much more qualified group of people at shows like TexProcess because they’ve already done their research online, and they come to the show for more in-depth exposure to our products. Potential customers have the opportunity to meet key representatives from the vendors and ask specific questions, while observing their value proposition and solution offer in a ‘live’ environment.
In terms of footfall, the show has been a huge success for us, with quality interest from a diverse selection of companies from across the globe not just in Europe.
BH: A big part of a presence at any trade fair is differentiation – catching people’s eye – so what do you think sets CGS apart from the other vendors that prospective customers are going to be looking at on the show floor?
PM: As we can see from looking around the halls, there are many core and extended PLM vendors exhibiting, of which can make the market seem extremely competitive and complex to a potential customer embarking on a PLM evaluation.
For us at CGS, we have the advantage of being able to highlight our world class customer list at our booth, which attendees notice and stop to learn more. We have some great implementation stories that we’re able to share that demonstrate how we’ve been able to clearly define and analyse the current business needs and anticipate future requirements for our customers– to meet the organisations operational and strategic goals. By doing this, a customer can realise ‘true’ business value from their investment as often the business requirements extend beyond the traditional PLM scope, something we are proud at CGS to be able to offer.
BH: On balance, do you find that today there’s still some uncertainty today about what, exactly, PLM is?
PM: I think in Europe there is some way to go in terms of market receptiveness compared to the US, as companies define precisely the scope and context of PLM, and whether their processes and requirements are covered by this. The definition of PLM continues to evolve. We’re finding that much of the marketplace is not only wanting the design piece, but also strong sourcing capabilities – even through to production. That’s where BlueCherry’s roots in ERP puts us ahead of our competition.
Having said that, interest is strong and growing, and I think one of the contributing factors is undoubtedly the reduced cost of ownership and increased out of the box functionality of a modern solution such as that of CGS’ BlueCherry.
BH: There are vendors here offering everything from dress forms and thread to 3D CAD and supply chain solutions, as well as several companies who claim to have a bit of everything – including PLM. That no doubt makes it harder to pigeonhole PLM itself. Do you like to think of PLM as the unifying part of a holistic approach to solutions (running end to end), or is it something that you find people still want to learn about and buy in isolation?
PM: An integrated environment whereby companies are able to bring all of their information together to create a single unified approach and common data source is becoming more customary. At CGS, we are able to offer a suite of fully integrated solutions covering the concept-to-consumer lifecycle; from design and development to production and delivery that ensures operability without the complex interfacing. We are definitely witnessing a shift from implementing in isolation to adopting an ‘end-to-end’ solution, with fashion companies placing an emphasis on eliminating any gaps within their supply chain operations.
BH: Now, CGS have a well-established presence in North America, and you were instrumental in their recent establishment of an office in the UK. Are there any particular trends you see driving people towards PLM either at home or worldwide, or any you’ve particularly noticed here at TexProcess?
PM: I think there are a number of key drivers for PLM at present including, increasing supply chain control, improving supplier relationships, sustainability improvements, the importance of incorporating consumer feedback to improve brand and consumer loyalty, and finally, the need to differentiate in a highly competitive environment. I think due to heightened consumer expectations fashion companies will naturally continue to search for productivity and efficiency improvements. I expect PLM to play a significant role in delivering leaner processes and helping companies to achieve their goals.
BH: And in terms of technological trends, is there anything in particular that you’ve noticed either here at the show or out in the field that you think will have a significant impact in the coming year or two?
PM: As far as trends that we’re seeing, certainly the integration into mobile technology is one at the top of the list. Everyone carries a mobile device today – from some sort of smart phone to tablets – and the market is demanding that enterprise data is accessible from these devices. Most importantly, that the data is available in a user-friendly format. We’re addressing this trend by developing mobile applications for our solutions. We just released an application for CGS’ Threadvine salesforce automation tool for use on the iPad.