How To Reset PLM Collaboration?

How To Reset PLM Collaboration?

Almost 2 weeks ago, I wrote about De-confusing of PLM Collaboration. Today, I want to suggest a different angle and talk about how we can re-think PLM collaboration concept. Why I think it can be interesting? In my view, the enterprise software industry is coming through the process of consumerization. It means that lot of technologies well-established in the consumer space will be coming to the enterprise. PLM will not be excluded from this process. Collaboration could be a good starting point for such type of re-thinking. To put some lights I created the following diagram.

I think about 3 fundamental activities: Communication, Collaboration and Process Management. I’d like to discuss them separately.


This is the most straightforward part. In my view, it represents fundamental activities in an organization today. I heard from people that organization is practically “driven by emails”. New technologies and the web are bringing alternative ways to communicate (i.e. IM, Blogs, Forums…). However, email is very strong and all ambitious plans about how to replace emails became a failure.


I used “collaboration” word to identify tools helping people to share data. I can see “synchronous” and “asynchronous” tools that can be used by people to collaborate. In the past, enterprise product developed the whole world of various “workspaces”, “whiteboards” and other solutions to share information between users. New web tools (i.e. Wiki) are coming to this space from the internet. In my view, it represents interesting perspectives on how to share data.

Process Management

Fundamentally organization is driven by processes. Various business processes can drive and formalize people’s activities, define goals and measurement system. The important aspect of process management is “people’s adoption”. Very often, company is spending a significant amount of resources to formalize and establish a process management system. However, next day, the system abused by people running emails and by doing so, voting against complicated process management procedures.

Moving from Spaces to Channels

In my view, enterprises are moving from a database world to networks. I touched this point earlier in my post PLM Network Effect and Single Point of Truth few days ago. Slowly, companies are starting to understand that database-centralizing has the limit and will not scale up. The Internet experience shows clearly that “network organization” can be much more powerful. Thinking about this abstraction, I came to the conclusion about significant movement from the concept of “spaces” that was dominant in PLM collaboration for the last 10-15 years to the concept of “Channels”. The way to organize channels can present an innovation in streamlining communication and processes in enterprise organizations. I can see existing and new companies are innovating in this space. Just to bring few examples – Cisco Quad, Chatter, Yammer, Vuuch. This is my short list of innovators in this domain.

What is my conclusion? Customer demand to re-think collaboration in enterprise will provide a significant impact on how PLM collaboration will be developed in this the next 3-5 years. Intersection of Process management, communication and old-fashion collaborative tools is a good starting point to reset everything we knew about PLM collaboration. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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  • gazoomi

    I find Olegs points interesting and especially the conclusion “Customer demand to re-think collaboration in enterprise will provide a significant impact on how PLM collaboration will be developed in this the next 3-5 years.” to be correct.
    However, in my experiences, the world of collaboration is extremely closely connected to the “maturity” or “level” of integration in a company. By integration I am not referring to the tools but the organisational integration. In a highly integrated ( or “team-like” ) company, and including the extended enterprise, it is much easier to reach high levels of good collaborative success with today’s tools than a disjointed company.
    The current environment of mergers, rapid organisational change, increased outsourcing etc. make collaborative PLM a major challenge for the next few years. The integration issue becomes more pronounced with increasing size of company, but then so does the collaboration issue.
    The concept of “spaces to channels” I need to think about a bit more before I comment.
    Just my thoughts…..Jim

  • beyondplm

    Jim, thanks for your insight. I agree, the organizational culture can impact collaboration. My “re-thinking” statement about collaboration was mainly orienting towards changing of how we explain collaboration and how we translate it in a meaningful set of solutions.

  • Oleg if we try to analyse current sitation from usere perspective the most dominat reasons why users still use email is ease of usage.What I think PLM solution providers need to think is usabilty aspect of the software
    Another e.g if we see is workflows very few PLM has a interface which users can start using on their own
    How much training a user really needs to start using email , unless we achieve this benchmark in designing PLM solutions users will always gravitate towards more easy to use options.PLM no doubts has a edge in terms of collaboration capabilities but it requires time and effort to master which a normal user finds it difficult to find

  • beyondplm

    PRASHANT, thanks for such an excellent observation. I think, you are right and ease of use is a key. However, PLM needs to learn an old lesson how NOT to compete with email. Just my opinion. Best, Oleg