PLM and Social Connections

I’m continuing to explore various aspects of relations between PLM and social systems and tools in my blog. The social topic becomes interesting. However, I think social hype contains lots of misunderstandings and misconception. Few days ago, I had healthy debates with Chris Williams of Vuuch about PLM Social Detours. Chris is saying “PLM tools cannot be social. PLM targets structure, control and is only embraced by a small number of users”. This is the exact point I want to discuss today. The additional trigger to this conversation was the information about Cisco Pulse – a new tool developed by Cisco to empower people in an organization.

How To Connect People in Organization?

One of the latest innovations in Cisco related to adoption of social systems to empower people connection @work. Take a look on the following Cisco Pulse presentation.

Cisco Pulse presentation made me think about missing “social link” in the way PLM systems drive their enterprise adoption. For the moment, PLM relies completely on process management practices to expand usage of PLM tools in the enterprise. This is what drive people involvement into a product-related processes. However, this approach is absolutely ignoring the reality of communication between people in the manufacturing organization. The formal way to organize processes is probably not the best way to organize your work. There is a need to find a new way to build more efficient communication and collaboration in product development, manufacturing, support and maintenance.

Need for PLM Mainstream Adoption

The core idea of PLM is to provide a business strategy and tools to manage processes related to product development. One of the people concerns about PLM is “mainstream adoption”. PLM tools considered as too expensive and complicated to be adopted and used by all people involved into a relevant business process. There are multiple reasons why PLM got the status of “a privileged system”, and I covered and discussed it before on PLM Think Tank. As an example, take a look on one of my previous posts –  3 Main Factors of Mainstream PLM adoptions. It seems to me by bringing a “social connection” factor into PLM game can become one of the possible ways to expand PLM influence and level of adoption in organizations.

Social Connection vs. Follow a Friend

We are very familiar with “follow a friend” concept that drives mainstream adoption of social networks in consumer space. However, the very valid question when it comes to implementation of social systems in the enterprise organization is simple – who are my “friends”? Collaboration is not about friendship. Collaboration is about how to work with right people in the organization. They will become your “social connections”. And they are not constant. Your connections change all the time depends on work you are currently involved in.

What is my conclusion? I’m thinking about last 10 years of the internet and Web 2.0 innovation. It can bring some fresh air in the way people can collaborate and communicate in the enterprise manufacturing organization. PLM spent significant amount of time trying to formalize business processes and collaboration. It comes as a set of business process tools and industry and best practices. However, the complexity of the implementation is still very high. By bringing “a social connection” to PLM we can introduce a new way for people to collaborate. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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