Social PLM, Graphs and Organizational Overlap

Social PLM, Graphs and Organizational Overlap

Social tools are capturing lots of noise and making real impact these days. After initial hype of MySpace and early days of Facebook, social networks is getting down to real business, profit and smart technology. LinkedIn engineering publication earlier today speaks about some smart engineering work done by LinkedIn engineers analyzing data about people connections. Navigate to the following link to read Organizational Overlap on Social Networks and its Applications. I found some facts from this article quite interesting. One of them related to the ability of connection identification.

A basic problem in network analysis is predicting links for partially observed networks, that is, given a snapshot of connections at time t, can we predict links at time t+1. On any online social network, two members might know each other, but may not have established a connection on the site. Link prediction and recommendations help address this problem and create a more complete social graph to improve user involvement.

Another interesting use is identification of communities.

The organizational overlap model also works well for detecting communities within an organization. It is usually hard to evaluate the quality of communities because of a lack of ground truth. We used an indirect method to evaluate the quality: intuitively, the speed of information propagation should be faster within a community, so we measured the quality of detected communities by the speed of information propagation within it.

The problem of identification of communities can be interesting in the context of introducing of social network in product development organization and actually in any enterprise organization. The communication patterns in existing organization is mostly driven by emails these days. Social networks are just establishing themselves and engineering is probably not the first place where they start. However, the ability to capture communication relationships between engineers can help to identify knowledge gaps and efficiency problems.

What is my conclusion? The combination of data networks and communication network can bring lots of new opportunities in product development. At the time, companies are scratching their heads trying to understand where next cost saving will come from, the answers are probably deep in the roots of social product networks. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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  • The potential of leveraging social media/social capital for PLM or any other business function is huge. I share your enthusiasm for social PLM, more from the perspective that the opportunity Social provides for a PLM team to solve its problems or find new opportunities by tapping the wisdom of crowds/network of friends that each member of a PLM team has.

    If I am making sense, I would like to share my understanding with you, Oleg that an important enabler of Social PLM is a culture thing – not technology. That is, we need to know that it is identities that motivate people to be active in social media.

    Having a PML team with socially active members is not going to help an organization unless the social activities of the team are based on a professional and strategically important identity.
    If a PLM team member actively expresses and nurtures his identity as a “designer”, “modeller”, “simulator”, etc, he or she brings more value to the Social PLM operation, than someone who is socially active but without any identity relating to PLM cycle. Nobel Laurette Dr Amartya Sen says that identities are capital like finance.

    Your thoughts?

  • beyondplm

    Sankar, thanks for sharing your insight! No doubt, social activity is a fundamental thing behind social systems. The primarily role of technology in that case is to capture and support this activity. For example, Facebook realized “real people” identity and change the landscape of social networks. But enterprise environment is different. I don’t think we found the way to realize the full potential of social technologies for enterprise. Just my thoughts… Oleg