It has become obvious – social software has made revolutionary changes in our mind. Flickr, Twittter, MySpace, Facebook and many other social services have changed our way of communicating and collaborating. This leads me to ask a few other questions– what about enterprises? And more specifically – what about PLM? The way I see it, as Product Lifecycle Management is focused on lifecycles , it is already very social. As PLM is heavily focused on collaboration between people, a social approach should be very appropriate.
However, the social environment of enterprises would be different from the social web environment of consumers. There are a few important requirements, to socialize the enterprise environment in general – the social enabling infrastructure, and rich user-oriented services (address books, communities, connections, social searches). In my opinion, the most important requirement for the enterprise social web environment is user generated content. All successful consumer-oriented social services have been created around friendly and widely available content such as pictures, messages, and user contacts. Now, the question is how to replicate this approach to Product Lifecycle Management.
When I think about PLM, the first thing comes to mind is that PLM is very anti-social: Very few people in the organization can handle CAD content, product structure and other information regarding Bill of Materials (BOM). Sometimes, this information is so confusing that sometime only the creators of this information can understand what is going on. A role-oriented approach is successful from the process-oriented standpoint, but this approach creates great diversification in how people communicate around products they design and manufacture. Taking these factors into account, the first and foremost steps, of equal importance, in making PLM social is to make PLM content widely available in the organization and user friendly.
Availability of PLM content for all users inside of enterprise organization and in the extended enterprise will allow people to socialize around this content. I’m expecting many changes in this direction from the following different standpoints:
· hardware (especially touch interfaces) and various communication devices, that will connect me to my PLM content everywhere
· new ways to work with product models (especially geometry) and information, that will enable all people to work, i.e. change, review, comment;
· new levels of communication between people (online), that will connect to people and PLM content.
The bottom line is that I strongly believe that successfully created and organized content will make a big shift in PLM – a shift that will make PLM a social system – finally.