Home / PLM / DE 15th Podcast Series: PLM Before It Was Called PLM

DE 15th Podcast Series: PLM Before It Was Called PLM

ACTIA screenshot from a bygone era.

ACTIA screenshot from a bygone era.

CATIA launch screen, Version 4, Release 1.4 (1993)

CATIA launch screen, Version 4, Release 1.4 (1993)

Twenty years ago, PLM (product lifecycle management) wasn’t known as PLM. In 1995, the term that Dassault Systemes, PTC, and Siemens PLM Software would later use to identify their brands was still in hibernation. People talked about central vaults, file management, and remote collaboration, but they did so under the headline product data management (PDM) and electronic data management (EDM).

Al Bunshaft, managing director of Dassault Systemes (DS) Americas, said, “I believe it was right around [1995] that we were inventing the terminology. In fact, IBM and DS together coined the phrase product lifecycle management … I think it was a recognition at the time, which we still have, that there was more to envisioning, creating, and delivering a product than just CAD.”

Fifteen years ago, data management conversations revolved around bill of materials, change orders, and version control. Today, the focus has shifted to, as Bunshaft pointed out, “compliance, traceability …, durability of a specific component in a design …, [and] program management …”

Bunshaft believes we’re at another “inflection point.” He noted, “The power of the internet, the ubiquity of access to information that we have, not just as employees of a company but as citizens of the world, tools and technologies the internet has introduced–pick your favorite social media, whether it’s LinkedIn, Facebook, or other types of supply chain networks that now exist … Forward-thinking companies are now finding ways to harness them … These technologies are allowing us to gather insights, feedback, and requirements in real time from our customers and potential customers very, very early–much earlier than before.”

The next decade, according to Bunshaft, will see “a generation of small, nimble entrepreneurs who, in many markets, compete with the big guys.” Furthermore, “mass customization is becoming a reality. You’ll see many more new business models,” he noted.

For more listen to the complete conversation below, recorded at Dassault Systemes Customer Conference a month ago.


Podcast logo4

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

About Kenneth

Kenneth Wong has been a regular contributor to the CAD industry press since 2000, first an an editor, later as a columnist and freelance writer for various publications. During his nine-year tenure, he has closely followed the migration from 2D to 3D, the growth of PLM (product lifecycle management), and the impact of globalization on manufacturing. His writings have appeared in Cadalyst, Computer Graphics World, and Manufacturing Business Technology, among others.


  1. PLM was not invented, coined, or created by Al/IBM/Dassault.

    The acronym and phrase were used back in 1993 by Sherpa (as one example). Also… Computervision used the term in early 1995.

    Business Wire (via Nexis and Dow Jones)

    April 6, 1993, Tuesday

    Sherpa announces OPEN LOOK interface for Sherpa/View document viewing and markup package

    … Sherpa is the worldwide market leader providing enterprise product lifecycle management solutions that improve manufacturers’ market responsiveness. Sherpa’s customers include major manufacturers in the aerospace, automotive, defense, telecommunications and consumer electronics industries.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *