PLM, Social Enterprise Failure and Future Steps

by Oleg on March 18, 2012 · 9 comments

Well… I hope got some attention with this provoking title :) . Social is trending topic these days. However, let me put a very bold statement – after few years of excitement, I haven’t seen any example of “social software” success in the enterprise manufacturing company. Now, “social software” in my view is not related to social media and obvious need to screen employees  Facebook and twitter accounts. There are all absolutely important actions. I’m taking about the fact “social software” or something that sometime called “Enterprise 2.0” software doesn’t make any significant change in the way enterprise software works in manufacturing companies. In other words, no signs of mainstream usage.

Enterprise 2.0 Failure?

Last year, I was reading Laurie Buczek’s article The Big Failure of Enterprise 2.0 Social Business. Take a look, in my view, there are some very rational points there. I found the following passage interesting:

The big failure of social business is a lack of integration of social tools into the collaborative workflow.  This is not a newly identified problem.  Those of us working on social collaboration efforts for a while recognized that integration is imperative from the beginning.  At the beginning, I clearly outlined integration as one of three foundational pillars for our strategy.  Unfortunately, various forces created challenges in this space. Social collaboration applications have been immature in this area for years (even after fierce calls for faster integration- i.e. CMS). Enterprises faced fork lift integration efforts to knit applications together.  Fork lift efforts get the budget axe when push comes to shove.  We managed to do the normal IT deployment model – the very model I fiercely advocated for us not to do.  We deployed just another tool amongst a minefield of other collaborative tools – without integration.   To make it even harder, we underinvested in transition change management.

The lack of integration is critical. Social software just created another silo in enterprise. This simple conclusion is important to understand, in my view.

Social is just another feature

It is interesting to see how PLM and other vendors threat social. If you are in the enterprise business, you are probably familiar with this strategy – “our software supports social features”. You can find evidence of such a strategy in many places. Maybe the best example of social integration is a feature can be found in AutoCAD – it is just a command. Navigate to WorldCAD Access blog to read the article – Social media becomes commands in AutoCAD 2013.

I recommend you to listen to Facebook Investor Roger McNamee Explains Why Social Is Over. Navigate to the following link to read the article and watch video. Here is an interesting quote from the summary:

Don’t try to be “social”: the big social platforms are created. You can’t create a social company, it’s just a checkbox. “The last 500 social companies funded by the VC community are all worthless. I’m serious.”

Integration and User Experience are the key

There are two important things that, in my view, can make a difference in the future of social software. Integration and user experience. Social web created a completely different level of expectation for software. It is a different user experience. To have it successfully replicated and integrated into mission critical business processes can make a difference. One of interesting examples I’ve seen recently is the announcement of Yammer integration into SAP Software.

Yammer, software for creating social networks inside businesses, just released a new feature that connects Yammer with the central component of SAP’s enterprise resource planning software. That means SAP customers can have on their computer screens a network ticker, like the updating sidebar on a Facebook page. Instead of the latest news about friends, this sidebar delivers updates whenever something relevant to people’s jobs happens inside their SAP systems.

Another interesting example came from Nuage -new company announced very recently on a horizon of PLM. It is still very little can be found on their website. One of the resources Nuage shared is a whitepaper by Jim Brown of Tech-Clarity. Read more about this on Jim’s blog – Social Business – What if Facebook Didn’t Fail for Product Development? The important quote from Jim’s whitepaper is the following one:

The greatest benefit will come from combining the collaborative power of social computing with the control provided by PLM. As Going Social with Product Development explains, “While social networking by itself can provide value, companies that develop a strategy to leverage the concepts behind social computing in a product development business context will likely gain greater advantages in product profitability than others.”

What is my conclusion? I think, companies made first initial baby-steps in social enterprise over the past few years. Few important lessons: 1/magic word “social” does solve the problem; 2/user experience is very important; 3/integrate into mainstream business flow and solve significant business pain is a key. I would like to quote one of my friends saying that this is what differentiate between “pain-killer” and “vitamin” software. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

picture courtesy of w3c social web report.

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