Product Development: Keeping Up with the Edisons

Product lifecycle management (PLM) endeavors to lower the cost and raise the efficiency of bringing new products to market.
John P. Mello Jr.September 15, 2001

Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration, America’s most famous inventor once said. But it’s only a first step toward getting the right products to market sooner than your competition.

Product lifecycle management (PLM) endeavors to lower the cost of developing new products, bring them to market faster, cut the cost of managing suppliers, and reduce project overruns, workarounds, and failures. “New product development is the blood that fuels the life of a company,” says Phil Davis, vice president of strategic direction and marketing for BetaSphere (, a PLM software maker. “Companies are spending 50, 60, 70 billion dollars a year in developing new products.” BetaSphere focuses on software and services that help determine what customers want from a product, how much they’re willingto pay, and what they’d change.

Jim Bell, director of product marketing for PLM software maker MS2 (, notes that “there’s really no application for the product group to manage the definition, development, and marketing of their products and services.” For a lot of corporations, he adds, that’s “their primary source of competitive advantage.”

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PLM products could have a significant impact on a company’s balance sheet. According to AMR Research, better PLM could create $106 billion in new operating margins for US manufacturers. Jack Maynard, research director for Aberdeen Group, adds that “design review times can be decreased 50 to 80 percent, and errors can be reduced an order of magnitude.”