Do we need PLM walkie-talkie?

Do we need PLM walkie-talkie?

plm-walkie-talkie

Continue the topic of efficient communication started yesterday about future of the email for engineers, I want to speak about some other interesting alternatives engineers can use to stay connected and work together. Instant messaging is crazy popular. We use it everywhere. Last year I posted about opportunity to develop instant messaging app for enterprise and engineering workspace. Navigate to my post – PLM messaging and whatsapp moment. My main point was how to create an efficient context for communication.

New startup CoTap looks like trying to bring Whatsapp moment to enterprise customers. My attention was caught by TechCrunch article – Cotap, A WhatsApp For The Workplace, Adds Box, Dropbox, Google, OneDrive And Desktop App. CoTap takes the direction to integrate variety of contextual data sources by adding support for file sharing from Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive and Desktop apps. Here is an interesting quote:

The Box, Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive integrations that are being announced today are a part of that bigger concept, … the idea here being that you can send flyers to staff with information, pictures of lost property, or other communications — as well as the latest marketing strategy. After a user has connected up the service in question, sending a file is as easy as sending a photo in a messaging app. Cotap also used as an API layer across all four to power search and to surface recent documents. Effectively, what it means is that Cotap sits as the mediation point between the four storage services — imporatant since in many businesses you often end up with a mixture of services between official company accounts and those you have created for your own documents when you are working on a nonwork device. Recently modified files show up first on Cotap.

It made me think about engineers in manufacturing companies. How do they communicate? Email too complex. At the same time, it is hard to add a specific engineering context in IM like Lync, Skype and others. In my view, the demand for new engineering communication tool is there. Companies are looking how to use the ideas coming from social platforms in enterprise communication. However, the experiments with “twitter for engineers” and some others are questionable. To create list of “followers” is not practical. You quickly getting to the point of “too much noise” in your social channels”.

What is my conclusion? The idea of walkie-talkie style of communication between people you are working on daily basis is a refreshing one. Especially when it disconnected from platform (desktop, mobile, voice) as well as provides a good content integration (video, photo, drawing, 3D, etc.). It removes noise and allows to engineers and their peers in an organization to focus on their work and problem solving. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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  • People doing product development do need a product development walkie talkie, especially those teams that are spread out across the globe. But the problem is much deeper and complex than simple point to point communication. Email can be used for point to point communication. What’s really needed is a party line with intelligent filters.

    It used to be that people were located in one location and communication could take place around a drafting board. Now, knowledge and subject matter expertise is located everywhere. Just finding the right person to talk to is a challenge.

    Passing around files via email causes all kinds of problems during product development. Missing the right people in the email, determining who has the latest version, email deluge, to name a few. Using PLM to check-in and check-out files isn’t much better.

    There was a company called Vuuch that tried to solve product development communication problem. They didn’t get much traction and the VC’s were not interested. Personally, I thought they had a good concept.

    A data party line is a much better idea. Data flows along the party line and people apply filters to pull off the data that is important to them. This would be very lean like.

    If this sounds interesting, stay tuned…

  • beyondplm

    Dana, you are right – communication is a challenge. Especially when it comes to such a complex concept like design. I remember Vuuch (Chris Williams) – they tried to make social tech to work for enterprise. Similar solutions like Yammer got more traction. Today, services Autodesk 360, Dassault 3DX, GrabCAD and some others are innovating to provide cloud solution to collaborate around design.

    I’d love to learn more about what you call “Party line”.