PLM, Collaborative Sandbox and Facebook Pills

PLM, Collaborative Sandbox and Facebook Pills

What do you think is the most adopted mainstream collaboration tool? My conclusion is that most of the companies are running by email these days. Email is the number one application everybody uses to collaborate, decide and communicate a decision to other people. People are practically collaborating, deciding and acting on emails.

PLM and Collaborative Sandbox
Collaboration is very important for product development. Software vendors recognized it long time ago when started to play their “collaborative game”. Collaborative PDM. Collaborative PLM. What all these initiatives and products were about? I think, all these products were about to create a collaborative sandbox where people can work together. In these collaborative sandboxes kids (oops… engineers, managers and super-managers) are playing in exchanging information and making decisions. However, is it really so? What most of the companies are using to collaborate? I guess, they are using email. Therefore, each time PDM, PLM, BPM or any other “collaborative software” were coming with a new product, a customer’s question was – can you support email?

Social Sandbox Pills
The hype of last 2-3 years is social software. The idea behind social is to create a better place to collaborate. You know better who are the people you need to contact, get information, exchange opinion and, at the end – make a decision. So, we are going to replace our email collaboration with a new… social collaboration? Really? So, Facebook will be the next collaborative tool? Kind a social sandbox? You need to read Jim Brown’s “Why Does Facebook Fail for product development“?  So, using my collaborative sandbox analogy, we are going to move from the “email sandbox” to the “facebook sandbox”. Do you think it will help to collaborate in a better way?

Collaboration Is About Toys in A Sandbox
How to collaborate effectively? In my view, you need to have good tools. Like in a sandbox, if you are a right set of toys, you will be able to create amazing things. Facebook allows you to play with pictures, videos and messages. These are ultimate Facebook’s toys. When we collaborate in a company, most of us are playing with email and attachments. Can we improve it by moving into Facebook’s sandbox? To have an access to the right set of tools from the new social sandbox is the most critical part of a successful social collaboration. In most of the cases these tools are already in place – design, engineering and manufacturing tools. These tools will allow you to collaborate with a right context.

What is my conclusion today? There are two important element of collaboration – place to collaboration (sandbox) and context we need to collaborate (toys). My hunch is that most of the social collaboration discussions are about sandbox today. We are too much focused on where we are going to play. We are not focusing about how to have a right context to collaborate with. Like having pictures, videos, messages and syndication of all these things is important for Facebook’s success, to have a right content to collaborate is important for a successful product development collaboration. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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  • Christine

    I agree that way too much “work” is done over email, and companies will recognize a tremendous productivity gain when they go social. Personally, I hate email. I think people use it as an excuse to not do work. People will send an email, and consider an issue closed without any actual resolution. Social collaboration will introduce freedom to collaborate, but it will also offer a new level of transparency to task status and employee engagement.

    The problem is, our business culture is addicted to Outlook. It really takes a shift in thinking to get away from a comfortable tool, even when that tool is flat and limited. At first I was a bit baffled at the popularity of Outlook plug-ins for tools like Vuuch, but I see them as a bridging technology as we start the detox.

    Interestingly, the college generation is using web based email and tools facebook as a primary communication tool. It will be interesting to see how and when this kicks into the business culture. It’s inevitable.


  • beyondplm

    Christine, Thank you for commenting. I agree, people are addicted to Outlook. Nextgen will be addicted to Google/Apple. However, my main point is that Google, Facebook and Twitter will not change much until we will find a way to provide a right context for collaboration. BOMs, Drawings, Parts- all these things need to be enabled for collaboration. Best, Oleg

  • Christine

    Oleg, I think that “context” probably depends highly on the client. Unfortunately, I think this will really slow the adoption. The framework of social collaboration is so flexible that the client can’t actually envision the benefit until they have invested some time and creative visualization. Essentially, you are opening up a new realm of possibilities to a group that is potentially drowning in data issues. Clients aren’t interested in what “could be”, but are focused on solutions to extremely discrete problems.


  • andy

    Online collaborating and teaching can work, If you have trust and the right tools.
    I recently tried – good app for uploading documents and working on them in real-time.
    Most file types are supported and it needs no installation. – andy

  • beyondplm

    andy, thanks for sharing this link. One of the specific characteristics related to CAD/PLM is the ability to share
    “special files” i.e. CAD as well as other “non file” information. Best, Oleg

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