It has been long time since I discussed PLM and social trend on my blog. Social is going mainstream these days. It is hard to surprise people with social things now. People made their conclusions and follow their own social patterns and habits. One of the topics that often brings discussion is related to how “engineers” are getting into social work. Few days ago, my attention caught the following tweet from UpFront.eZine (voice by Ralph Grabowski):
Being an engineer, I just don’t get the whole “social” thing. Engineers are, by nature, not social. So, Dassault, stop forcing social on us.
This tweet made me think again about what means “to get social”. In my view, social network functionality is getting more and more standard. Like Windows File Explorer 15 years ago, the social stream becomes a commodity in terms of what it should provide. Different social networks are experimenting in providing an innovative way to communicate and the functionality gets cross-copy between products.
I’ve been reading Why Twitter’s new Conversations view is a big deal and why it matters for its IPO by GigaOM over the weekend. One of the points in the article is related to the fact all social networks are look the same (or similar) these days. However, I found the notion of standard social behavior interesting. Here is the passage I liked:
What is going on? Well, how about the standardization of all social platforms around the concept of objects and comments, especially on mobile. Objects are photos, videos, links, location data, status updates — and people like to share these pieces of comments. The behaviors around these objects are also getting standardized in the form of likes, shares and re-shares. The content shapes too are getting standard — squares mostly — thanks to the shift to the mobile. In very near future, it would be hard to distinguish the difference between the timelines/social streams/news feeds on anything social: Instagram, Foursquare, Facebook and Twitter.
While I agree with the opinion of authors about standardization of social platforms around such concepts like “object” and “comment”, the first one is the most important when it comes to the conversation about PLM and social. PLM “objects” are special and very different from photos, videos and web links. The nature of PLM objects is structural information with quite complex visualization rules. Think about CAD assemblies, Drawings, Bill of Materials and more. Standard social commentary around photo and video links just cannot work with such complex context. The ability of social PLM to navigate to the right contextual object is also complex.
What is my conclusion? The majority of innovation in PLM and social field will happen around the ability of the system to expose right engineering or design contextual object – CAD model, drawing, BOM, etc. The ability to link the conversation around a specific contextual object will become a competitive advantage as well as unique value proposition of social PLM vendors. Just my thoughts…