Social is trending these days. We can see this, analyzing the broad change in the Internet trend usages these days. What happens is a shift towards social tools and Facebook is definitely a game changer in this space.
So, the new hero was born. Facebook. Is it the new way to solve all existing problems? Well, not all problems, but probably at least part of them. The massive introduction of various strategies affiliated with “social” and “Facbook” is trending. I can see many new systems and strategies that just introduced from multiple well established players in hardware, enterprise software companies and small startups. Some examples (not exhaustive list, of course) - IBM Lotus Social, Cisco Quad, SAP Stream Work, PTC Windchill Social Link, Vuuch and others.
It made me think about comparison between core Facebook use cases and a specific enterprise use case (may be including some PLM-like flavor). The core success of Facebook was built on top of the one mainstream usage – sharing of texts, links, pictures and videos between friends, which included a very interesting approach in information stream syndication. I had a chance to write about that in one of my previous posts – Social PLM: More Syndication and Less Communities.
However, after thinking about this use case in the context of enterprise engineering or manufacturing organization, I came to the conclusion that Facebook cloning may not bring desired results similar to Facebook’s social networking. As Vuuch’s Chris Williams wrote in one of his comments on my blog – following all connections in the organization is not such important step. I found three elements that, in my view, can make your social PLM-effort successful:
Design, Engineering and Manufacturing data is a “different animal” from simple pictures, videos and link shared on Facebook. You need to give to your “social PLM” an ability to use right contextual data for social collaboration. This is not a simple task to do. Most of the use cases related to “collaboration” are actually started from the well understanding of data you are going to collaborate with. That’s why many of the pure collaborative systems failed during their implementation in enterprise organizations.
Simply put – you cannot be “half-connected”. In order to have a successful social system, you need to establish a broad connectivity inside of the organization. The ultimate way to do it is a still an email. Therefore, your goal is to to become integrated with an email in a very deep way. People can hardly accept a second way to communicate, socialize and collaborate. This is too complex in today’s world.
The last one. Desktop, or even laptop computers, are not playing the role of a single possible device. You don’t have to be on your desk to “make a decision” or to collaborate with your colleagues. So, supporting broad set of devices is another pre-requisite, in my view. That’s why, Cisco’s experiments with their social platform running out of their phone devices looks very interesting to me.
What is my conclusion? Facebook and other social software generated a massive trend in enterprise applications. This trend will impact everything that PLM is trying to accomplish for years. I can see many Facebook-clones today. Creating a successful Facebook-clone will require to understand the content and specific characteristics of enterprise and PLM applications. Just my thoughts..