What PLM can learn from public social data?

What PLM can learn from public social data?


Social PLM is not cool any more. The article Why is Social PLM DOA? from PLMJim popped up in my twitter stream earlier today and drove my attention to social PLM topic again. In my view, it gets nasty this time. We loved the idea of social communication and how to these tools can improve collaboration. However, it all gets wrong. Here is the passage Jim is using to explain that:

There have been many articles on the value that social tools can bring to your business. However, the uptake of social tools within Engineering organizations in the guise of social PLM has been very low; possibly non-existent.Why is this the case? Is there no value in Engineering for social tools, or is it just hard to exploit these tools in the product development environment? There is clearly a need for more social collaboration during product design, so it would stand to reason that these social tools would have some value. As I have introduced many engineers to Social PLM in my PLM Certificate Education classes, I have often wondered about the lack of enthusiasm for these kinds of tools.

So, after all hype, the solution is not there and demand is near to zero. I’ve been thinking about social topic and PLM quite some time and I agree with Jim’s point. Maybe not in a such disruptive form. I called it – Why social PLM 1.0 failed?  in the beginning of the year.

However, here is the deal. The more I think about social, the more I’m convinced PLM vendors and startups in “social PLM” domain took a wrong approach by trying to convince that “social collaboration” will provide a silver bullet to improve communication between people. In my view, it is totally wrong. People are locked in silos and not interested to get out of their silos. This is how organizations work and the best communication tools cannot change this trend for the moment.

So, what is the potential future leverage of social tools in engineering and manufacturing? In my view, social data is a potential Klondike for manufacturing companies. It is a place where manufacturing companies can get ideas about customer demands, future product improvements and existing product failures.

I’ve been reading makeuseof article Facebook usage is changing, so which online activities are growing. The article brings an interesting perspective on what happens with social tools. It speaks about variety of tools people use anonymously to publish social information. Tools like tumblr, instagram, whatsapp, twitter. Some of them are well known and some of them are not very popular in professional social space.

Manufacturing companies are sensitive to social activities these days. Look on how CEO of Tesla, Elon Musk was handling Tesla Model S fire very recently. It will give you a sense of potential value and danger manufacturing companies can experience by missing this type of sensitive social information.


What is my conclusion? I think Social PLM 1.0 was a nice try and… failure. It was good experience to learn how mimicking something buzzy and hyping is dangerous without focusing on values for individuals and companies. I’m expecting to see new Social PLM 2.0 to come soon with new agenda, ideas and lesson learned. Social data has a huge potential. Not to leverage this potential will be a huge mistake made by PLM vendors. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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