PLM Goes Social – don’t forget your daily job!

social-toolsProduct Lifecycle Management is going full speed to social tools and technologies. With two companies, PTC and DS articulated their social plans as Social Product Development and Social Innovation, no doubt this will  be major move to absorb technologies, to build tools and develop best practices to involve social communication into Product Lifecycle Management. So, a lot of excitement comes on the side social tools, and how they will improve way PLM doing their job. But, at the same time, this is scary me a bit. Since many of PLM problems were not very related to ability of PLM to become social. So, I’d try to analyze what are potential drawbacks from social hype and PLM.

Social Hummer for PLM complexity. PLM considered as a complex software. ROI, adoption, training, best practices, out-of-the-box etc. All these issues are new and widely discussed by many vendors, consultants and customers. A dangerous curve in these discussions is to say – we will make PLM social and solve all complexity issues, we had before. No, it won’t happen.

Social Tools Flexibility. Yes, you can do everything you want in the way you organize your social communication. However, organizations will continue to be structured. Processes will continue to play a very significant role in the way people work in organization. Don’t think social tools will re-solve problems  with processes in your organization. Social tools will streamline communication, but will not streamline processes. This is still needed to be on your action list.

Tool disintegration. As we discussed many times, there are lots of tools in the PLM landscape. Question of integration is not simple one. Do you think social tools will solve a problem of tool integration? I don’t see it this way. You will be better connected to “people”, but these people will continue to use disintegrated systems with all old problems you have.

Data availability. Social tools bring better communication. So, you think information access issues will  be resolved, just because you can stay connected with EPR folks? I don’t think so. Still communication between people will not be able to replace need to expose information and make it available in organization.

So far, this is my initial look on some of the places where social tools can be used to resolve core PLM problems. I’d like to mention one more… In the end of the day, social products are “yet another tool to use”. When I hear about “additional tool”, my question first – we already have many, why should we use another one? So, after all excitements, facebooks and twitter, designers, engineers and other users will need to think how to adopt all these tools as part of a daily job. This will  not be easy. My core thinking is about how “social” can be integrated into daily life of users without becomes “yet another tool to use” statement.

Best, Oleg.


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