Social PLM and Structured Enterprise Communication

Social PLM and Structured Enterprise Communication


Social is one of the topic that keeps trending these days among enterprise companies. The last few years demonstrated lots of advantages of social technologies and their applications in different fields. Enterprise is obviously looking on social as one of the hot topics following consumerization of IT and mobile. While software business models are moving from ownerships to usage, the adoption of tools and ability to get people to collaborate becomes one of the most important imperative.

However, we need to face the truth –  social PLM failed the first attempt. I’ve been blogging about it in my previous articles – Why Social PLM 1.0 failed? Many people in manufacturing organization and specifically engineers didn’t get a point of ‘social’. The utilization of social applications when down- engineers didn’t see social as a utility they can rely on similar to email and other communication tools. Navigate to one of my writeups about this – PLM and common social platform behaviors. In my view, the important takeaway from that discussion is related to how social tool can provide a single utility for engineers and other people in manufacturing and engineering companies to deal with data. This function is practically doesn’t exist in most of current versions of social tools. Think about sharing of CAD models or other engineering and/or manufacturing data and you will understand the distance between Facebook photo sharing. Rich enterprise content is different. Sharing CAD data and manufacturing information is very different.

However, there is another aspect. Social collaboration and communication are main factors that drove adoption of systems like Facebook, Twitter and Google+. However, thinking about these systems, the main  people behavior was about following friends and their posting on social site. To share photo or link is probably one big mainstream function today. But, it is different in the enterprise and business. Noise factor is very high and it drives efficiency and usage down. In order to solve “information noise” problem, social systems proposed grouping and activity streams. The idea is nice and I found some interesting examples to confirm the benefits of the idea. I called it “structured social conversation”. Earlier this week, my attention was caught by company called Hexigo that can be a good example of what I mean by “structured social conversation”. In a nutshell, Hexigo provides they way to follow up social activities to insure nothing get lost and by doing that, helping people to following decision process in a social way. Nice idea, in my view – you can see it in the following video:

What is my conclusion? We have to re-think how social collaboration is coming to enterprise organization. The unstructured social discussion similar to what people having on social networks is good, but probably too noisy to busy enterprise people and engineers. In my view, there are two big things every social collaboration system should adopt in order to be successful in manufacturing, engineering and probably other enterprises as well – (1) rich data and (2) structured discussion. It is not clear how much of the original twitter and facebook ideas will remain afterwards. However, without that the adoption of “new ways to collaborate” will be pretty low among busy engineers and other decision makers in enterprise. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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