Collaboration is one of the most overused words in Product Lifecycle Management. Even outside of PLM world, this term creates confusing. You never know what stands behind the next big thing in software for collaboration. In the past, software vendors in CAD, PDM, PLM, Supply chain, etc. made multiple efforts to develop “collaborative solutions”. However, “collaboration” is absolutely not only about CAD, PDM and PLM. Even opposite, if you will take a look on how many software vendors rushed to deliver solutions for collaboration, you will be amazed. Take a look on this Collaborative Software page in Wikipedia. You can see multiple examples of software.
Simplification is another interesting trend I’m watching these days. The ability to delivery “simpler user experience” becomes absolutely important to success in software. Few days ago, Google introduced “Structured Discussion” feature. You can read more about this feature in Google’s blog or the following TechCrunch publication. Watch this video and make your conclusion.
Google Structured discussion made me think about how similar functionality can be embedded into PLM software. More specifically it can be a nice feature to appear in engineering software. CAD and Viewers probably would be my first priority choice. I can easily find more examples. I found evidence vendors in PLM and around are actually also thinking about near the similar features.
Back in 2007 Dassault, released a new product called 3DLive. Navigate to Dassault website to learn more about this. When in 3DLive, users can communicate with other users via something called “buddy list”. Take a look on this picture below (thanks DE for this picture) Similar to IM, you can catch a conversation with people related to a particular assembly or part. I think, 3DLive provided some original ideas in communication, but was too complicated to implement and, in the beginning, had some limited to CATIA based environment only.
I found few publications about Vuuch Design Discussions from early 2009. The term “design discussion” is actually interesting. Vuuch provides to engineers the ability to make comments and communicate in a more efficient way by combining of discussion treads and design snapshot. The next picture is evidence of this feature. You can read more about this experience from Josh on his SolidSmack blog – Slapping Discussion Across the face of Design. I actually liked the way Vuuch presented it in the past. I tried to follow the “design discussion” term on Vuuch blog and actually found the new name for “collaboration” is “interaction“.
Siemens HD PLM
This is a bit about the future. Last year, Siemens PLM introduced the concept of HD PLM (High Definition PLM). I’m not familiar in details with what HD PLM can delivery, but learning from the website and videos, I found evidence of “discussion elements” in the HD PLM solution as well. You can see it in the following picture.
What is my conclusion? To help people to work together is extremely important. Software that makes it simple and intuitive can catch up very fast. Design and engineering environment in manufacturing companies is still a place where you need to read lots of user manuals before you start to understand to operate with the software. Even if I found evidence of the user interaction features in specialized software created for manufacturing, I found Google Structured Discussion features much cleaner and simpler to use. Simplification is a key. Just remember – MP3 player was available for years, but was replaced by iPod. This is probably the best example of simplification.
Just my thoughts…