Social PLM Options

Social PLM Options

Social is hot. Social networks, social applications, social enterprise, social CRM… social PLM (?). I put a question mark, since I wasn’t sure if to use a word social is an appropriated in this context. What means “social” for PLM? How it is different from what we’ve been doing in PLM during the last decade?

Collaborative PLM
We used to apply the word “collaborative” in PDM/PLM context many times. Despite the magic of this word, for me, it was always about “working together”. And, I think, this is true. PDM and lately PLM put huge focus on how to share data in the organization, how to access this data collaboratively. It started from collaborative review and move into more complicated areas of design, engineering, etc. Collaborative technologies in PLM passed three stages: 1/Share Data; 2/Exchange Messages; 3/Work in real time.

Social Trend
The trend for social software started from Web 2.0. Actually, Web 2.0 was a lot about how we can generate content on the web. It started as blogs, wikis and web sites provided different user experience (i.e. flikr etc.). People started to collaboratively create content on the web. In the beginning, it was purely about technologies like AJAX and user experience. It was a turning point point for Enterprise 2.0- how to bring so successful Web 2..0 user experience and new models of communication and collaboration to enterprise. Within time, it came to the point where content became secondary and actually social communication (or people) came to the first place. The “aha moment”, in my view, was when everybody understood the value of collective information about social communication and data that people generate. It wasn’t about accessing data anymore. It was about how people interact and how to get value from this interaction.

Social Trend and Enterprise Software

Enterprise Software discovered hidden potential of social trend and implication on what currently happens in the enterprise. The first who came into this game was CRM, and it is obvious why it happens. CRM is all about communication with customers. However, who are your customers? These are the same people on twitter, Facebook, linkedin and many other social networks. So, if CRM can leverage this social communication, stay connected with customers, get feedback and early alert – this is a huge value for enterprise. Take a look on the video of industry analysts Michael Fauscette and Natalie Petouhoff discussing the intersection of Social CRM and the enterprise. Recorded at the Social CRM Summit last week. I found it very interesting.

In parallel, I can see other enterprise domains are also moving towards better understanding of what social trend can bring to them. I think, we are in the early beginning of this trend. Some elements of social software in the way of user experience, people communication started to appear in the portfolios of enterprise vendors. Community software is one example of that experience. I see it very positive. Social networks provided a very significant push to the development of social software. However, it was transformed into multiple “social platforms” in the enterprise. It was a funny transformation in my view. Now, every big enterprise vendor, started to propose their own “social network”. We are still not at the mature level. However, all trials are very interesting.

So, what about Social PLM?

Finally, I wanted to get back and answer on the following question: where is the intersection of social trend and PLM? In my view, implications can come in the three possible areas: collaborative technologies, user experience and value of social networks.

Collaborative Technologies: Social software developed bunch of very interesting technologies for collaborative work. These technologies related to the ability to manage big amount of data, involve many participants simultaneously. I’m sure PLM will need to learn lesson or two from this space. It contains a huge amount of innovative ideas and technological achievements. We are in the early beginning of this discovery.

User Experience: Social software came with the next level of user interface, usability, behaviors, etc. These fresh ideas and very broad use adoption level, need to be translated into PLM. Today’s PLM user experience is far from the consumer software level. We can see it started to happen already. There are multiple examples of re-use of Facebook’s user experience, Twitter micro-blogging communication, etc.

Value of Social Networks: This is the most interesting space, in my view. We will need to think how to bring accumulated value of social network into PLM. This is especially interesting for manufacturing companies facing consumer space. And, almost all manufacturers these days are looking how to get connected to the end users. Such social innovation can be a very interesting experience for Product Lifecycle Management.

Just my thoughts…
Best, Oleg



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