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Engineers

Do we need PLM walkie-talkie?

by Oleg on August 28, 2014 · 0 comments

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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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Do We Need Engineering Note App?

by Oleg on March 27, 2014 · 7 comments

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Yesterday’s post about how engineers can collaborate in the office, made me think about another aspect of collaboration – taking notes. You may argue… Taking notes isn’t specifically collaborative activity. However, I can see it very tightly coupled with our ability to communicate and collaborate.

There are lots of applications for notes taking these days. Just to mention few of them – Evernote, OneNote, Word processing applications such as Microsoft Word and Google Docs. You can see a comparison of some popular applications here. Mobile is another interesting platform today for notes taking and it created a separate niche. Take a look here – Five best mobile note taking apps. Expanding even more, Evernote is transforming into platform and allows to other development specific note taking apps – The Best Evernote Apps for Organizing Even More of Your Life.

Do you think engineers are taking notes? I think, they do. I have to admit that I do… I also know few other engineers that taking notes. Now think about engineers using CAD systems and many other engineering and manufacturing applications. Do they need a special application to take notes? Maybe CAD should develop “note function”? Maybe new social collaboration tools will provide it? I don’t know. Nevertheless, I want to outline some specific functional requirements for engineering notes app:

1- Engineering context support. When you take notes, you want to be able to capture snippet of a specific content coming from CAD and maybe other engineering content creation tools (analysis, bill of materials, etc.)

2- Integrated camera for 3D, photo, voice and video capturing. It is very important to be able to capture real world content. Engineers can take this app to field trips or use it at shop floor. Ability to take photo, video or even capturing 3D model is extremely useful.

3 – Integrated measurement tools. Measurement is another aspect of engineering activity. To have ability to take measurement in the field or check dimensions can be extremely important.

What is my conclusion? There are lots of general purpose application for taking notes. Nevertheless, I think, customization is important. To have note taking app tailored for the needs of engineers can be an interesting option. Especially, if this app will support a specific engineering context. If you know one, please let me know. I didn’t find it yet. How to make this app? This is a tricky question. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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CAD and Future Office Design Walls

by Oleg on March 26, 2014 · 3 comments

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Collaboration is inspiring. It is very overloaded word in engineering space. Collaboration is often used in the context of CAD, design and engineering environment to allow engineers and other people to work together when they are located remotely and disconnected from each other. This is sort of mainstream collaboration scenario – to connect people.

While, this is absolutely true and important, I want to raise another perspective on collaboration. What about people working in the same office? How team of designers located in the same office can collaborate and discuss their ideas. What can help to the team to exchange information and discuss what they do. You may think – it is not a problem. When people co-located, the collaboration is not an issue. I don’t think. Sharing information together in the same place, exchanging ideas and discussion design options can be equally hard.

I’ve been thinking about office collaboration comparing it to our home communication. Our homes are getting more and more digital these days. Think about such a popular communication as photo sharing. Everybody knows Facebook, Instagram and other social apps. I’m sure you use it a lot, but it is mostly imply to the situation when you share photos with people connected by internet. However, rules are different if you are at house or in the party. You want to exchange photos and information. Facebook is too complex and won’t provide you the way to collaborate. My attention caught by Google Photowall announcement. This application allows you to share and stream information from multiple mobile devices to Chromecast player connected to TV set. Read more here. The following video give you an idea how it can work:

Google Photowall app made me think about potential opportunity to help engineers and designers to collaborate at office. Are you familiar with the way people stick drawings on office walls for review and discuss design options? What is you can replace it with special “design wall” collaboration app that will beam drawings on the screen from multiple devices and computers? It can be scalable, easy and won’t require to print paper and stick it on the wall. To me it sounds like a good digital alternative for 21st century. 

What is my conclusion? We are moving into digital life everywhere. Screen size is getting bigger. New visual experience will replace the traditional paper communication. It is fascinating to see how it will happen. It is not in the future. It is here and coming. Just my thoughts…

Oleg

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PLM Return on Mobility Challenges

March 20, 2014

Almost two years ago I posted my Mobile PLM gold rush – did vendors miss the point? post. Mobile usage is skyrocketing. It is hard to imagine our lives without mobile devices. Is it a good time to get back to the conversation about PLM, engineers and mobile? What is a special purpose of mobile applications for […]

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How engineers find path from emails and messages to collaboration?

March 14, 2014

We are really bad about managing ourselves. The natural people behavior is to create mess. Life is getting more dynamic these days. We are swamped into the ocean of information, data streams, social networks, emails, calls, etc. If you want me to do something, send me an email. I’m pretty sure you are familiar with […]

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Engineers and Contextual Search Experience

February 28, 2014

Web search became part of our life. We don’t search anymore, we “google” everything . The visible simplicity of Google created a feeling that magic of search can transform and simplify any software product behavior. CAD, PLM and other enterprise software companies liked the idea as well. Search is certainly getting into mainstream. Open source […]

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CAD, Engineers and Online Communities

February 19, 2014

Remember our life before internet? The meaning of community was about social group that shares common values. Actually, the history of communities is longer than history of CAD software . So called “Community Rules” were mentioned in one of the first scrolls found in Qumran Cave. Community word often explains common geography or environment. However, […]

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Why engineers need exploratory search?

December 13, 2013

Search. One of the most powerful changes in experience we’ve seen for the last 10-15 years. It is interesting, but search was with us many years. Search or find was a functionality in every enterprise application already 20-25 years ago. However, before Google made us to believe and experience the power of web search, the […]

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How CAD/PLM can capture design and engineering intent

November 8, 2013

It was a big Twitter day. Twitter IPO generated an overflow of news, articles, memorable stories. For me, twitter become a part of my working eco-system, the place I use to capture news, exchange information and communicate with people. If you are on twitter, try Vizify to visualize you twitter account. I did it here. […]

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Why PDM stuck in non-web age?

July 27, 2013

Web as a platform. You can hear many conversations about that nowadays. Started as cloud talks, it comes more to the point where we can see  the discussion about how “world wide web” is changing user experience and computing paradigms. One of the strongest trends coming on top of massive shift towards web paradigm is […]

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