Can PLM Use Twitter To Predict The Future Of Products?

I can see multiple debates these days related to the social software – Social Networking, Microblogging and others. Despite the absolute success of websites like Facebook and Twitter, there are still a lot of questions related to benefits of such software and experience for enterprise and product development. I see two possible direction, social software can be used in product development and PLM: Collaboration and Business Analytics. Collaboration was the first obvious space, where developers of CAD and PLM software focused on. It was pretty simple. Web 2.0 apps drove lots of interest and provide attractiveness to be applied in the product development. However, the second option seems to me very interesting.

Product Intelligence and Social Trends Analysis

I had chance to come across the following post on BrainSolis blog. Brian wrote about Twitter trending topics and potential power of untapped information that located in Twitter. It made me think more globally about possible usage of analytics in analyzing trending topics on the market of specific products as well as related problems such as deflects, claims and other situations. You can, for example, to use tools that calculate number of times a specific word or phrase mentioned on twitter.

Product Development Tools Evolution
What do you think about the future of your design tool? During last years, I had chance to hear lots of debates about that. One of the topics that requires attention is related to how we can increase intelligence of design tools to empower engineers towards getting better decisions. I can see multiple directions here – physical analysis, visualization, intelligence. Ability to add more tools and capabilities in hands of engineers and developers can be beneficial.

Product Planning and Social Analytics
Ability to analyze potential of the future product can be a powerful option. It can come in the context of different phases of product development. In the planning phases- to understand what is trending on the market, during advanced development phase – to see potential social communication related to future development, during the maintenance phase- do discover bugs and other customer issues.

What is my conclusion today? Social software provides an interesting area, since it touches the communication with existing and potential users. Users are the most important asset for any company. To be able to get more information about them can be an interesting opportunity for the future PLM and related development tools.

Just my thoughts…
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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  • Oleg,
    If social media inputs (Tweets, Blog Posts, email messages, etc.) continue to grow in popularity and reach the same level as text messages, I think we will need far more powerful tools to help us manage the incoming information and make better decisions. Otherwise, we run the risk of being influenced by a vocal, technology-savvy minority or worse yet accidentally ignoring the inputs from representatives of our key target markets. I wrote more about this recently. See for more info.

  • One needs to ask whether we can discern the meaning(s) of the sort of Twitter data used in the example. For example, twice as many Tweets mention iPad than iPhone, but surely there are many more iPhone users. iPad also beats Google by 50%, but what does that mean exactly? Far more people use Google, it just goes about making billions with less buzz than iPad, at least for the last couple of weeks.

    The “problems” date raises similar issues of useful attaching meaning. Does it indicate that more people have complaints about iPhones than Toyotas … or that many people having Toyota problems don’t Tweet as much as folks with iPhone problems? What portion of the Tweets associated with “Apple problem” are links to business-related articles by stock analysts or people pitching PC-based solutions? Tough to tell.

    I am not suggesting that one cannot successfully mine Twitter and other Web 2.0 data, but it may prove quite complex to derive reliable conclusions.

  • David, I completely agree with you. In my practice, twitter and other social net/media started to bring much higher %% of information in comparison to what it was 2-3 years ago. So the trend is clear in my as well as demand for such tools. Thanks for your comments and link to your post! Best, Oleg

  • David, I agree, you pointed on the question I heard many times from different people. There are no doubt, twitter and other social nets contains valuable information. However, nobody can really provide a useful way to extract it in a meaningful way. Most of the tools, including those that I mentioned, remind me famous “infinite monkey theorem” — The infinite monkey theorem states that a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type a given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare. . With increasing computing power, “infinite monkey” pattern can become not as bad :). Seriously, I think, it is partially used by data crawlers and bots in search engines these days. Thanks for your comments! Best, Oleg

  • Ratneshwar Jha

    Oleg, I think we are underestimating the power of social networking site. We should consider the following scenarios:

    1. The Social networking sites are mostly used by Masses in general twitting their experiences of day to day activites.
    Instead of focusing on the texts like iPad, Toyota, iPhones, we can have intelligent systems to sense the changing taste of the end users. For that we can start with:
    a. Regions.
    b. Tweets Paragraph Analysis based of abstract keywords like commuincations, Design. This is difficult part but with more serious thought, a model can be developed which does intelligent analysis of the user tweets.
    c. Taking these inputs to collate and link it to emerging change of trends.

    With these points new market products can be thought upon which can be later used in PLM.

    2. The volume of direct end users of gaints like Toyota,Airbus and all are very less compared to the masses. But in future, we can expect increase in the thier participation and then we can far more accurately anticipate the future of the existing and new products.

    Just my thoughts. 🙂

  • Ratneshwar, Thank you for your comment! I agree, the value of social net is huge. The iPad, Toyota etc. are just examples. Of course, everyone can fit it with their specific needs. At the same time, I think it is very hard to get an information you need from the overall poll of online junk… How do you see possible to get into this problem? Best, Oleg

  • Vijay Richard

    Hi Oleg
    Having read your work for quite some time, I felt your persistence needs to be appreciated and write a few lines for this PLM blog after my CNN blogs.

    Some of my technical papers may answer questions from the perspective you are approaching this challenge of integrating social networking data to PLM, My work is based on pragmatic approach with sample case and brief technical implementations. I did derive a ontology based model, few work from various research works including Marketing management from Philip Kotler were used. I did adopt a product breakdown strategy along with questions for further researchers to move beyond geometric and characteristic physical metrics which will have a dual benefit. This was also based on ISO standards, the model technical implementation was done on a J2EE platform.

    For people interested, I published my work on integrating PLM with social networking data at IT enabled Product development strategies conference, year 2004. This technical conference from PSG Tech was sponsored by PTC, TCS and other companies.

    I think already i have left few bits for creative minds to connect the dots

  • Vijay, Thank you for your comment. I appreciate you putting my blog in the same line with CNN blogs.. I’d be interested to read you works. Can you put some links on your publications? Best, Oleg

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