Content is a King. If you create valuable content in your app, you can do whatever you want. Since everybody needs you. However, what if the nature of your app is not to deal with content, but help people to collaborate? My take on this point is that “context” becomes Collaboration King. In all possible collaborative scenarios, you need to have a contextual presentation of the information you are collaboration on. As much faster you get user up to speed with what is going on, your capabilities to collaborate efficiently will be even stronger.
Last week, I was happy to see the latest Google introduction of Gmail Contextual Gadgets. In my view, the feature is going to repeat Google Buzz approach to bind a customer to email to collaborate. I’d encourage you to have a look on the following video from Google Campfire last week.
Now, let think a little about your PLM stuff. The ability to delivery rich content in the messages can be a significant advantage. The mostly important is to have a contextual definition of information, actions, etc. This can be a very successful in the implementations of any process-oriented solutions (i.e ECO approval). I see many existing solutions can be able to migrate to the similar framework. It seems to me very easy to build such Gmail based solution.
I think, the fundamentals of email in the very convenient asynchronous message conversation. In order to create a successful collaboration model, you need to catch up on the email / messaging wave. Web based email solution creates even bigger comfort zones for the people. Ability to deliver rich content to the email based solution will drive collaborative trends. So, for all peeps that are trying to replace email with their own solutions, I’d recommend to study Gmail Contextual Gadgets approach. Maybe there is a rational in such collaboration email approach?
What is my conclusion? Email is the most trusted collaborative platform developed for the last 25 years. It seems to me, we don’t need to re-invent the wheel. Don’t you think so?