Personalization is one of the today’s trends in product development. More and more manufacturers are discovering the ability to develop products that fit particular customer demands. What is especially interesting is to be able to design and develop products following social demands. I think involvement of individuals in product development is a very interesting trend we are watching now. People are interesting to be involved into product design, they want to impact.
This is place where, I think, today’s PLM technologies can leverage some latest development in the field of Web 2.0 and more specifically, social search. In the chain of social influence –> people demands –> people –> product requirements –> product development, <people> are the missing link in the chain. If we can stay connected with people during the full product development cycle, we can find the special power we are missing.
Social networks today provide the ultimate source of information and connection to people’s minds. How can we use it practically and connect product development to people behaviors, wishes, interests and preferences? I will try to translate this need into practical technological requirements:
1. The ability to mine data in social networks according to specific product behaviors, requirements, needs.
2. To allow people to impact by providing feedback on ongoing product development.
I will take as an example the development of the next model of mobile devices such as mobile phone, GPS system or PDA. Development of these type of products have very a short timeframe which needs to focus on the assembly of the most important requirements for the next product model. These requirements include product features, product look and feel and they need to balance with the right product price to fit a specific customer segment. So, what if the product development environment based on PLM system capabilities were able to mine social networks and the assembly summary of people’s demands? This sounds promising to me… but is only the half of it. The other half is the ability of PLM systems to expose information about a future developed product using social media tools in the social networks , and collect people’s feedback. Now we have a closed loop of product development with social involvement.
I’d like to write a few words about what products example I see today. First of all, the development of vertical search tools. These search tools are tuned for specific needs and can discover particular trends in all available social media – blogs, wikis, Internet forums etc. Next is a search developed specially to follow information in social networks – Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn etc. And finally, development of tools allowing us to expose Product Content (design, features, functional characteristics) out of current development systems (CAD, Industrial Design Tools etc.).
I’m very interested to hear your voices in this discussion – from the standpoint of product development tools as well as a consumer of various products.