PLM, Social Silos and Information Streams

I had chance to read the following blog post on IT Business Edge – Oh No, Social Medial Creates Even More Information Silos. . It made me think about process interaction into enterprise organization. What I like very much, is a definition of social channels. This is a short quote from the article:

Social channels are repositories of siloed information just as often as traditional enterprise applications, if not more so. At least with enterprise applications, companies recognize the need to integrate different data streams, have been cracking away on the problem for years and have enlisted support from vendors. (Sure, sometimes the “support” seems like little more than lip service, but vendors largely do try to offer integration when and where it makes sense.) IT Business Edge’s Loraine Lawson last week wrote about the growing need for companies to consolidate information from various social channels in one place, perhaps on their Web sites.

This fits my view on how processes will be organized in the future. The biggest problem of process organization, as I see them is their absolute inability for self organization. I see process management as somewhat half successful in the systems like CRM and ERP. However, it becomes an absolute failure when it comes to the engineering space. Why, I think, it happens. The main problem is the very informal way of communication during product development, engineering and manufacturing. In the CRM and even ERP domains I can always identify “push event” that can trigger a process. Opposite to that, in engineering, the type of the communication is more in the “pull” mode. The most popular collaboration and communication tool in the engineering enterprise is the email. However, information and communication overflow is the biggest problem of process communication in the enterprise manufacturing organization.

Organization of Social Information Stream is an interesting idea. I came to that looking on how multiple social tools successfully promote information flowing between their members. Think about Twitter lists, for example. If you’ll “twit” from the side of various actors in your engineering organization, you probably will be able to organize your communication in a better way. In addition to that, PLM organization is pretty much siloed. It prevents PLM from the efficient organization of process and data management. Maybe social information streams using social websites collaborative approaches, is the way to go in the enterprise? If I’ll take this idea forward, my next step will be probably to define “twitting actors” in my product development. Subscription to these “actors” will allow me to flow in my product development information streams.

What is my conclusion today? The communication in the enterprise organization is not a simple task. Today, email is still the king of the road. The real advantage of email is that you can consolidate your information streams in the single place. However, you easily can get to the point where your single email stream is overflowed and become inefficient. Email is a typical “push” process model. I think tomorrow’s PLM will be using the “information stream” concepts to better organization communication. The content and context of these streams will be very important to make it useful… The future talks!

Best, Oleg

Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing a digital network platform that manages product data and connects manufacturers and their supply chain networks.



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  • I don’t think that integration in the way we think of it for enterprise systems is the answer for solving the social networks silo. Social networks are like conversations – I don’t want or need to know about all of the conversations that are going on around me. My brain is not big enough to handle all of the information! The silos are like rooms – if I want to be part of a different group and join different conversations I can go to a different room. So the individual should determine the appropriate level of “integration” from time to time, by particiapting in different networks and being part of different conversations. Search and discovery services will make this easier to do. So I don’t think silos are so much of a problem really.

  • Doug, Thank you for your comment! I think, product development environment represents a sort of interesting case for integration that cannot be easy resolved by today’s enterprise integration practices or business process management systems. So, in my view, social information streams can help us to create an alternative way to have an integrated product development environment. The combination of organizational silos in the organization will present the option to create social product development system. What do you think about that? Best, Oleg