The demand for real-time collaboration is getting stronger. The idea to “get your team on the same page” was translated into reality in Google Docs a decade ago and since that time became quite popular. Microsoft introduced very much similar functionality in Office 365. Apple was the last to catch up, but also introduced real-time collaboration option for the last release of iWorks.
In my article last week – Real time collaborative edit is coming to CAD and PLM, I shared several examples of real-time collaboration scenario in modern cloud-based CAD and PLM applications.
Fortune article – Google and Salesforce Get Together to Keep Your Spreadsheets Updated brings a perspective how important real-time collaboration option and how it can interplay together with enterprise software services and applications such as Salesforce.com.
Google and Salesforce think they’ve figured out a way around the usual solution of manually cutting and pasting in data from other documents, spreadsheets, and databases. The two companies have created new connections between Salesforce’s sales management system and Google’s spreadsheet application, Sheets, along with its presentation creation tool, Slides. The net effect is that Salesforce data used in the Google apps for things like sales forecasts, lead generation updates, and corporate pitches will stay updated automatically without the usual human intervention. It removes the need to go in everyone once in a while to manually replace outdated numbers. The connection works in reverse, as well. That means, changing a number in a Google spreadsheet or presentation will result in tweaking a Salesforce sales record, as well.
I found this example very interesting since it is introducing a trend how web services can bring data from variety of data silos into an application where team can collaborate in a real-time by getting simultaneous updates. Again, this is a reason why everyone likes Google Sheets- you share Google Sheet with your team and it simplifies many aspects of communication for a team. Although Salesforce.com was one of the companies that pioneered cloud software, it is still mostly database driven application with records and business objects. At the same time, the demand to collaborate beyond a traditional database-driven application is high.
Imagine a scenario in which information can be pulled from ERP, PLM and CAD systems to create a product manufacturing planning environment in which people from various organizations can access the data and make changes at the same time. So, transient collaboration can be one of the next opportunities to improve communication and collaboration in distributed product teams.
Collaboration is a funny word. For the last two decades the word remained the same, but the meaning of this word changed. Email was one of the first collaboration tools and it was very disruptive when it replaced paper trails. Then web pages, portals, data-driven web applications, web, social networks and real-time communication.
What is my conclusion? One of the oldest PLM demand is to have a single point of truth shared in the organization among multiple people. But modern manufacturing environment is always in motion. To provide an ability to stay on the same page “literally” is an opportunity real time collaboration tools are bringing to manufacturing companies. Just my thoughts…
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Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of openBoM developing cloud based bill of materials and inventory management tool for manufacturing companies, hardware startups and supply chain. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.