Next 3 Steps in Collaborative PLM

Why I decided to talk today about Collaborative PLM? I think “collaborative” buzz was with us quite long time, but these days this trend is going down and “social networks” are coming up. Nevertheless, I think when we start to think about practical ways to implement “People Centric PLM” (Thanks Vuuch Voice for this term), we can see renaissance in collaboration.

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I figured out 3 possible steps where today’s PLM can be improved by accepting of new technologies and approaches coming from Web in general and specifically from Social Web. They are 1/Content Platforms; 2/Commenting and Discussion Systems; 3/Streams or Waves.

Content Platforms for Collaboration
I think collaborative systems began to keep a critical mass of content. In the early beginning of collaborative systems our thoughts were about “how to collaborate around content”. So, such content could be 3D Design, Drawing, Bill of Material. We can see ideas of such type of collaboration in systems like 3DLive and many other Viewer nad 3D collaborative systems. However, this is in the past, in my view. These days, what people are collaborating about becomes to be even more important in comparison to an ability to share collaboratively 3D Model between 2-3 designers. Data mining, content analyzes, trends analyzes becomes very important. But, in my view, PLM systems are in the very early beginning to think about these needs and opportunities.

Commenting and Discussion Systems
How to organize collaborative work of people around a particular design, issue, problem? I think, today, this is what email is used for. However, email is very bad when it comes to the point of discovering who said what and when. Especially, when you want to base your opinion on something has that already been done before. Maybe you just were out of a specific mail thread? So, here I see the next opportunity in collaboration – discussion and commenting. The biggest challenge in such a type of collaboration is to integrate it in our daily life, so it will be accessible and not “yet another system to check during my working day”.

Streams or Waves.
I got an interesting question on twitter – what are you checking first in the morning – email or twitter? Frankly saying, I want to check one place and not in multiple places. This is another opportunity for collaboration. How we can unify our collaborative streams. Mails, IM, Twitts, Phone Messages… Is it a new challenge for Unified Communication? Actually, I’m looking forward to seeing what Google Wave will give us in this space. (Google is going to send out 100’000 invitations in the end of September, so I hope to get one).

So, what is my conclusion today? Collaboration is a place with an endless set of opportunities since this is part of our everyday life. PLM will need to be on top to satisfy demands of customers in this place. Influence of Web and other consumer-related technologies will be very strong in this space soon.

Best, Oleg

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  • Oleg,
    Regarding second point. I think ematrix have it already. It has discussion and commenting facility. I think most of the PLMs have commenting faciliy within workflows. For few it needs to be rearranged.

  • Ashish, Yes, you are right. I probably need to clarify. Workflow solutions, of course, allows to comment. However, a lot of people hate workflows as the way to communicate. I had in my mind something like DISQUS on web. You can comment and this is available in everyplace. What do you think? Regards, Oleg

  • Oleg,
    Adding to the Content Platforms for Collaboration point – I think there is no direct connection of PLM with the content/data on internet. Same concern is rasied by JIM Brown in his blog The Front End of Innovation is missing
    from PLM {http://tech-clarity.com/clarityonplm/2009/what-i-learned-the-front-end-of-innovation-is-disconnected-from-plm/}
    PLM Vendors must come up with something on this issue
    I agreed we want to see improvements in the areas mentioned by you in the article; but it will take time.
    Thanks,
    Bhushan

  • Bhushan, you are right! I had chance to discuss it with Jim. I don’t think PLM need to differentiate between content/data on internet from other types of data. Do you see any difference here? Best, Oleg

  • My point is – In today’s world no one can reject the importance of information available on Internet which is highly used in Modern Product Development either that is simple review on any social site or Customer feed back.
    To connect this data with PLM; User has [Copy the content] & Checkin into the PLM.
    that’s why I think PLM is on internet but isolated from internet.

    – Thanks

  • Bhushan, Agree. Value of internet information is huge. I think companies are starting to understand value of social network interaction and information possible to mine there with business value and opportunity. Product development is a place where value can be exceptional. Thanks for your comment. Oleg.

  • kiniajit

    Oleg,I agree and strongly believe with you that the speed at which the collaboration of the applications is happening is too slow and can be apparently compared with the snail’s pace.Product development in this arena is indeed an opportunity for PLM companies like Dassault Systems,Siemens etc but most of these companies have longer release cycles for their Products.No wonder it just remains potential ideas for future ! ! !

  • Oleg I am not sure Collaboration is done and Social Networking is up. Yes I know what you see in your graph but you can analize this another way. Marketing people have just been using a new term! And nothing has changed with the offerring. Look at the graph and you can see that any loss in Collaboration is replaced by Social Networking. Generics are not that interesting and don’t tell a complete story. Redo the graph this way Collaboration, Collaborative, Solcial Network and “Collaborative” volume is still bigger, but yes trending down (Marketing people). But add a specific to the list Collaboration, Collaborative, Solcial Network, Twitter (or Facebook) and then you see a very interesting result (Generic doesn’t matter)…

  • Chris, I know, playing with Google trends is a lot of fun :)… I tend to agree “Collaboration” and “Social Networking” is compensated. And this is a lot of about marketing…. Best, Oleg

  • Kiniajit, Thank you for your comments! Bigger companies (like DS) have longer lifecycle for products. Smaller companies (like Vuuch) are moving fast. After, bigger are buying smaller ones. So, I believe life is in balance :)… Regards, Oleg