Tom Singer Contributing Editor, Principal, Tompkins Associates, Oak Brook, IL
The future of the CMMS/EAM industry: A look at the National Plant Engineering & Facilities Management Show
Last year yielded mixed results for the CMMS/EAM industry. Some vendors had a respectable year despite uncertain economic times, while others struggled. The same can be said for their customers. I wasn't surprised by the continuing downward trend in vendor participation and attendance at the National Plant Engineering & Facilities Maintenance Show (NPEFM) last March in Chicago.
The CMMS/EAM industry is no different from any other packaged software marketplace. Profitability is the ultimate measure of vendor success. Having the slickest solution on the block is no consolation for not making money. If a vendor cannot consistently turn a profit, its economic viability must be questioned.
Since its inception, "best-of-breed" software vendors specializing primarily in maintenance solutions have dominated the computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) marketplace. As the complexity of the marketplace and customer needs grew, top-tiered CMMS solutions evolved into enterprise asset management (EAM) systems.
Many top-tier CMMS/EAM packages proclaim workflow functionality. But they usually do so in a secondary manner with words deeply embedded in their promotional literature. They also tend to do so in a way that doesn't quite fully explain what it is and what it can do for maintenance and the rest of the enterprise.
Web-based architectures — why should you care? There is a not-so-quiet revolution blazing its way across the IT world. It is a concept called web services, and it involves constructing applications that are designed to operate on the internet. This transformation shouldn't be confused with enhancing or enabling existing applications so users can access them via a web browser.
Some industries are recession proof. But the application software industry is definitely not one of them. A software vendor's sales-lead pipeline usually starts to dry up at the first hint of an economic downturn. Unfortunately, software vendors have little choice but to ride out a downturn. There is only so much belt-tightening a vendor can do and still hope to be in a competitive position whe...
Most top-tier EAM/CMMS vendors offer integration products, services, and tool kits that link their products to ERP packages and other business systems. These interface solutions play a prominent role in their marketing literature, web sites, and sales pitches. Many companies start their EAM/CMMS selection process with the intent of tightly integrating their new maintenance package with ex...
Portals are hard to avoid in a world that is rapidly embracing the web as the primary vehicle for information services. As the name implies, portals are doorways to web-based services. People gain access to these gateways by typing a single web address or URL into a browser. While its name implies something mystical, a portal is simply a web page that displays links to other web addresses...
Anyone who tracks the evolution of information technology in our society might come to the conclusion that there is no limit to our need for information. This is an easy conclusion to make since the number and sophistication of our information systems appear to be growing at precipitous rate. We keep implementing new functionality to address specific business needs and requirements.
Managers generally seek to centralize efforts in order to better use resources and maintain control. When faced with similar tasks scattered across multiple entities the natural tendency is to try to incorporate them into a single effort. The belief is that an economy of scale will result in a better return on investment by concentrating on a unified approach.