Google Wave PLM Use Cases

The Google Wave invites pushed to the community for the last 1-2 months are starting to bring some fruitful results. The number of pilots, prototype, demos and other activities related to Google Wave started to growth. I already posted on very interesting, in my view, business process building collaboration tool from SAP. In addition, you can see few more examples of Google Wave in “almost real life” here.

Looking on all these examples I wanted to figure out few possible PLM related scenarios that in my view can get real benefits from using Google Wave.

1. ECO Collaboration. It will be great to have an ability to mix formal process and not formal collaboration around planned or requested change. Most of the today systems implement a formal process that allows to run change approval. The level of flexibility can vary to depend on the system you have, but in my view, none of them can provide an ability to merge of a free mail collaboration and at the same time host formal control on ECO process definition and status. I think, potential of Google Wave robots can unlock and provide such capability to engineering and manufacturing teams.

2. Collaborative Documentation Release. To have high level quality of your product is very important these days. However, to organize efficient collaboration between engineering, manufacturing and documentation team is a not simple effort. They usually have different tools and communicate in a very weak manner. Google Wave can be a collaborative tool that bridge them and allow to have a documentation effort started very early in the process of product development. 3D and non-3D documentation can be embedded into Waves and provide up-to-date information to document writes. This information can be updated and documentation writes can collaborate with people they need in other organizations.

3. Design Discussion and Brainstorming.
Design activities can be hardly formalized. Many people in the organization can be involved into this activity almost on demand. At the same time, conferencing and other collaboration tools are not allowing to engineers do it in the asynchronous way. Google Wave can help. Mixing discussion threads and 3D information in Waves we’ll be able to support designers and engineers.

I think, Google Wave will have a huge potential in the future of collaboration. Email and other collaboration tools will be affected and will require to make their transformation to survive. It will be interesting in ride in my view. In my today’s examples, I was looking mostly on use cases when an email is heavily involved today. However, I’m sure, other examples will come as well.

Best, Oleg


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  • Roberto Picco

    Oleg, I’m so disillusioned… I had great expectations, but no one cares about Google Wave! Why???

  • Roberto, I’m not sure with you on this. Do you mean no one from enterprise apps? No one from CAD? PDM? PLM? Can you explain, please? Thanks! Oleg.

  • The ECO example is an interesting one. You could open a WAVE and even have a template that defined points that are important (inventory, scrap cost, use up etc) and then people could discuss each of these and at the end the WAVE is a record of the input and what needs to get done (good for compliance). At the end you could imagine the WAVE being converted to a PDF file which is attached to the ECO in ERP.

    Although I see this as a very interesting use case I think the transition to this approach will be very difficult for people. If this case really works then we should be able to find examples of where the same thing has been done using a wiki… I have not seen any of these and maybe the wiki approach has not worked due to how difficult a wiki actually is and maybe this is why WAVE will work (somewhat more natural for peole than a wiki). PTC has tried to add a wiki to thier Product Point solution but this is a slight of hand on thier part. Actually it is nothing more than a document authoured using a rich text editor that is then checked in (this is not a wiki, that said they have removed some of the complexity of a wiki relative to managing the structure and links).

    The core of why this is a good use case is the idea that all the communication about a specific business deliverable (ECO#XXX) is related to the ECO or in context to the ECO. I see context as a powerful force (in CAD we call this associativity). As well the idea that the user is doing something more natural versus what is required of them in solutions like PLM (very un-natural).

  • Great thoughts Oleg. Knowledge management has been talked about for a while in the PLM setting. However, the granularity level of product definition information and process documentations that users can conveniently have is a fact that keeps people away from better KM practices. With the advent of Google Wave, I see the possibility of more granular knowledge collaboration.



  • Chris, Your association with wiki is right. However, I do believe GW approach will be simpler, since it reminds email. And people are adopting email approach very fast (actually this is a dominant approach these days).. I can say, that in many PLM-like implementation with advanced process management, people still asked to use email as a delivery mechanism. And, ECOxxx is a good use case indeed. Thanks for your comments! Oleg

  • Kurt, thanks for your comment. I have to say that KM in my view is a very confusing term. It was in discussion many years, but didn’t bring significant results. However, I agree, indeed, level of granularity in content and data can improve collaboration. GW is helping us to do so, in my view. Best, Oleg

  • Martijn Dullaart

    Oleg, I completely agree with you and I even think that we barely scratched the surface of all the possibilities that GW can offer.
    When I played around in GW, I noticed that it wasn’t easy to shake the old habits. But slowly you see the benefits GW can bring.

    From the link you gave us I personally like the Salesforce example where you can use GW with respect to customer service handling. Or the one where you have everyone join in writing the Minutes of Meeting.

    However I still see that GW is still missing some basic functions like more granular access control and edit functionality like numbered lists. But it looks promising.

  • Martijn, What is especially right is about habits. Working in parallel with GW, mail/RSS and other collaborative tools you can feel how your habits impact what you are doing. I’m not worrying about GW features and capabilities. Looking on Google Apps like Documents and others, you understand that features are not a kind of problems for long run… Thanks for your comments! Best, Oleg

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