Social Design and PLM

Social networks and social activities is drawing more and more focus in our life. Crowdsourcing has become very popular in many areas involving decisions about people. 

Do you think crowdsourcing can really come to the PLM space? Despite the fact that PLM and Product Development is very often associated with Proprietary Process and Intellectual Property, I think that Social Design may have a very good chance of being involved in PLM-related development. 

Think about product design. Of course, I’m not referring to jet engines, air strikers and nuclear power plants. But, if products you manufacture and design will touch the social space and have end users, you may consider aspects of social elements in your decision process. The core ideas are your customer’s wish lists. I’m sure your company is concentrating on getting feedback about products manufactured and designed. But if you start this feedback earlier in the product development process, you can actually involve your customers early in the design – letting them give their input about forms, colors, styles, geometry, materials, and priorities. Sounds like a good idea? – But how can make you make this happen in the short-term? 

In order to do this, you need to have two basic components: (1) people you can involve in the decision process, (2) make your content development process more human-oriented. Communities of people and existing social networks are excellent places to ramp-up your design decisions and receive feedback. I recently wrote a post about Facebook polls – this is only one example of how to involve potential customers and get their feedback on what you create before it actually exists. The second component of the social design process is related to content. You need to make you content ‘social’ – otherwise you will not be able to communicate your ideas to the potential customers. This is a very complex piece of work for PLM companies in my view. Most of the product development tools are anti-social and do not allow their users to communicate easily their intentions, preliminary design options or choices. Organizing such activities and linking PLM tools to social networks and creating easily accessible PLM content should be priorities in today’s design tools in order to enable social design.

 I recently discovered some nice examples of such tools – Dassault Systèmes 3DVIA and SolidWorks ZoomIn can be used to make PLM content social.

Future enhancement of social platforms and other social tools by manufacturing companies can connect communities of consumers much more easily. Blogs and Wikis created by companies and product evangelists can create additional communities. Social networks enablement as part of Enterprise 2.0 might create an additional ramp-up point/leveraging point for PLM Social Design.


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