Social PLM: More Syndication and Less Communities

I’ve been thinking more about what are the gaps in taking PLM to the next level of collaboration. Social trend started on Web 2.0 sites got explored more and growing Facebook population is just another confirmation of the fact that people are looking for new ways to communicate and work together.In the past few months I had chance to share my thoughts about how I see PLM development catching up with various social trends. Facebook is having the most strong influences on the way social aspects of PLM can be developed for the future. You can take a look on my previous posts related to this topic:

The ABC of PLM Facebooking
PLM and Facebook Open Graph
How To Facebook PLM?

Facebook and Content

In my view, content is one of the big misleading elements of Facebook’s strategies. Lots of people are thinking about Facebook as an ultimate way to generate content. However, posting content to Facebook is not creating desired effect. Facebook is predominantly about people communication and not content creation. I found a very interesting observation about what Facebook is doing in Ken Auletta’s book – Googled.

The comparison of Facebook with phone communication where all participants are on the same line made me think there is a potential to create some similarity in product development organization.

Communication and Context
When Facbook is associated with a single phone conversation, it may not be so practical to be implemented exactly in the same for the business in an organization. The biggest difference, in my view, is that fact business by definition cannot be focused on a single conversation between friends. People in the business can have multiple contexts that create need to communicate. There are many examples – projects, ECOs, design discussions and many others. When using Facebook, your context is a single ‘online conversation’ that happens all the time. To be able to provide multiple contexts can be a challenging task for PLM.

Connect vs. Syndicate
In Facebook-like communication, the connection between people created an ultimate way to syndicate information. Is it true for organizations? No, I don’t think so. Connection between people in the organization has a different meaning. The fact I want to stay connected with a person, still doesn’t mean I want to syndicate an information stream coming from him. The syndication needs to be done on the contextual level, rather than on personal. So, community will have less importance to have a successful social PLM implementation.

What is my conclusion? Facebook provides a new paradigm for information sharing. The way doing so is to syndicate on the fly multiple information streams coming from people you are staying connected. This is the ultimate way to create a single conversation and not multiple conversations. What is the value in Product Lifecycle Management? The idea of syndication is extremely powerful. The way it is catching up now with different “communities concepts” and “social product development” stories might be wrong, in my view. There is a fundamental difference between a need of people to stay connected and information sharing. To apply this difference in a successful manner will be a key question in the future of collaborative systems for product development. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg



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  • Thanks Oleg. You always get me thinking with your posts.

    I think most of us are still searching for the right analogy or paradigm for social media that will help us map it to our real world and real life (for you and me PLM).

    For me, the communication advantage is important (the telephone analogy) but what has been bigger for me is the discover-ability of information.

    I’ve discovered new CAD experts (and experts in other domains), new tools that make me more efficient, new problems that I didn’t know existed, and new friends that share my interests. I’m far more aware of my product and how it fits in the real world. I’m far more aware of the competition.

    So applying social media to PLM I would personally ask myself what information in my design process do I want to be easily discoverable noting that much of the key information is not so much in the system as in the heads of the people.

    So maybe the other analogy for social PLM is a search engine, but one that includes the people as well as what is on the disk drive… and one that finds connections and not just data.


  • Oleg . Cool !
    Suppose there is a need in more deep formalization of Semantics and Pragmatics in the PLM . Look at my paper –

  • Follow a friend in your personal life makes perfect sense but this makes no sense at work Syndicating everything you do to everyone you are connected with just generates noise.

    Our work connections are defined through the content (Context) that we create.

  • Mark, Thanks for your comments and analogies. I’d prefer to differentiate between social media, social networks and collaboration. I think, we are mixing these topics. I believe, there are some overlaps, but focus of each of them is different. Social media- online, public information, social networks – people & connections, collaboration – the tools and way to communicate efficiently. Just my thoughts… Oleg

  • Leonid, Thanks for your link! I will take a look on this. Best, Oleg

  • Chris, I agree. The principles of connections and context are different in personal life and at work. The idea of communities and connections is working perfect in personal life (Facebook and other social nets). However, at work, context definition is not straightforward. So, focus needs to be to identify a context for syndication. Best, Oleg

  • Oleg,

    It would be nice if there was a way to designate personal and business connections in a tool like Facebook. Most people use it for personal interactions but since everyone is on it and knows how to use it there is a lot of potential. I talk about this in a blog article titled “Faceoff with Facebook at this link I also agree with the syndication idea but there as Chris indicates there needs to be a filter so you can control the volume and make sure it is relevant.

  • Stephen, Filtering of connection make sense. Both linkedin and facebook are getting to the point where the goal to consume information will be hard to achieve. Filtering connections and all other possibilities available in LinkedIn (Groups, Updates, etc.) are tuned well for communication between people. However, when it comes to the product development environment it is not enough. This is a point where I agree with Crhis – context will make a lot of sense. (Sneak preview- “Why PLM Needs To Learn About Context?” – will one of the next posts). Best, Oleg

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  • Hi Oleg,
    Sometimes back I stumbled upon your site and found it very interesting.
    What is your view on, what PLM can GIVE & TAKE from other enterprise applications like ERP, CRM, SCM and even from certain manufacturing specific applications like MES, CAPP.
    Thanks and regards,

  • Abhishek, Thank you for coming on my site! Glad to hear you found it usable and interesting. You asked a very important question, in my view. By nature, PLM Is sitting between many other apps and product in the company. Certainly, you can consider PLM as a hub that connecting design/engineering/manufacturing/supply. I will think more about your question and hope to come with a separate post on this. Best, Oleg. PS. You are welcome to my new blog – Beyond PLM ( The content of the current blog will be syndicated there….

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