PLM and Collaboration Platforms: Partnership or Buzzworks?

Collaboration is very important for product development including different phases – design, engineering, manufacturing etc. “Collaborative factor” is playing a very important role in development of CAD, PDM, PLM etc. I have to admit that engineering activities are very much different from areas like accounting and some others. For many years, development of capabilities to collaborate, was a very interesting and innovative factor related to development of CAD and PLM system.

However, time is moving forward together with technologies and collaboration is coming to our everyday life together with internet, mobile devices, office automation and other innovative technologies. So, everything becomes very “collaborative”. Question I want to ask today in simple way – should CAD/PLM related product think about wider adoption of collaborative capabilities coming from non-specific engineering and manufacturing world.

I was looking on the latest report in this area made by Forrester “Forrester Wave(TM): Collaboration Platform Q3 2009“.

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According to the Forrester, the following functional areas considered as primary criteria to include vendors into their research:
-Collaborative workspace capabilities. This includes the ability to store and manage multiple
artifacts with the space, not just the ability to share content over a network.
-Basic content management capabilities. These capabilities allow users to access a single copy of
an artifact through the network.
-The ability to customize the space for specific business purposes. Personalized dashboards,
workspace templates, and workflow capability are examples of customizability.
-Enterprise capabilities for security and authentication. Access-control lists (ACLs), single-
sign on through Active Directory or LDAP support, and enterprise rights management
capabilities (ERM) are some of the key components for enterprise security and authentication
offered by these vendors.
-A development environment for building custom collaboration applications. The evaluated
vendors provide development options for firms with very specific internal needs or for power
users who want to self-provision custom applications.

From the standpoint of Product Lifecycle Management and Collaborative Product Development, I can see a lot of things are missing in this list to allow designers and engineers to collaborate. However, mentioned above capabilities fit very well tool. Special interest, in my view, also need to be done on the latest focus of collaborative platforms on the intersection between a content creation, traditional collaboration and social elements.

So, what is my intermediate conclusion? Collaborative platform’s evolution brings them more and more in the space of traditional product design and development collaboration.  Is it relevant and make sense to marry them, or we are just talking about “yet another collaborative buzzworks”? Is there overlap in platforms and functionality provided by PLM vendors? Do you think a notion of collaboration is so different in product design and development that make appropriate to develop specific platforms?

Just my thoughts.
Best, Oleg


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