The ABC of PLM Facebooking

I was reading ‘Why does Facebook fail for Product Development? (and how to fix it)” article by Jim Brown. Jim made me think more about multiple associations between core Facebook principles and way PDM/PLM systems are organized and implemented today. Jim is saying, Facebook’s concepts are compelling, so let’s apply them to PLM. I have to agree. However, what is important is to make a right application. So, I want to try to discover what are key Facebook’s principles and how they can be applied to PLM to make a shift in PLM implementation in comparison to what we are doing today.

Life Before Facebook

Before social sites like MySpace and Facebook were born, our life was mostly concentrated around an email and instant messenger. This is the mainstream communication pathway. So, if I want to communicate with dozens of my friends, I’ll need to send/read emails. When I will be interesting to share something (i.e. picture), I will send an email with attachment or link. IM is pretty similar. It reminds me how we communicate in our workplaces now.

Facebook Experience

What is the major shift Facebook made for me in terms of my communication? As soon as I could find and connect with my friends on Facebook by importing my email contact list, my life moved from Outlook Inbox to my Facebook wall. My communication becomes much easier for situations when I want to share something with my friends. Instead of going and opening multiple emails with pictures, video links and notes, I can see them nicely syndicated on my wall. There are two main components of this shift –  connections and content syndication.


It is all about who are the people I want to stay connected. Facebook allows me to connect and figured out who are other people I’m interested to stay in connection. So, life becomes easy in terms of finding people who have similar interests to me. Comparing it to manufacturing organizations, I can compare initial contacts import as an organization hierarchy acquisition. Rest of connection can be discovered, by multiple ways- common projects, customers, task forces, specialization and knowledge. To help people to connect in a easier way is the first important Facebookconcept.

Content Syndication

In my view, Facebook made a significant shift in the way content can be organized by syndication of multiple content streams coming from different people and embedding various types of rich elements (pictures, videos, commentary, messages, reaction) into a singe syndicated content stream. The I/O (Information Overload) is a huge distraction that we experience everywhere. If we can focus on a single information stream (my Facebook wall), we can improve people’s performance. This is why you like to see Facbook Wall instead of scrolling down multiple emails and IMs. That’s why people can improve their communication in the organization by starting to use content syndication forms.


Facebook embeds people’s activities into the single syndicated content stream. This is a very important function. You should not be distracted by another “Inbox” message or multiple sources of incoming requests. Everything can be concentrated in a single place. Multiple messages on the same topic can be syndicated into threads and co-located with the content they belong to.

What is my conclusion? The core idea of Facebook is a new type of content syndication coming from my social connections. The way Facebook automatically syndicate content and allows me to make my activity related to this content is a key advantage for me to come every morning to Facebook and see what’s up with all my peers. My PLM system can do all these things today. You can manage Files, Parts, BOMs, ECOs, organize processes, make approvals, etc.. However, data organization in PLM is heavy and not comfortable. PLM is not thinking about data syndication. In my view, this is the ABC of PLM Facebooking. This what can empower PLM and make it more intuitive and easy to use. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg



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