I’d like to think about how to improve collaboration… So, why I’d like to talk about “collaboration” again? We got enough collaboration for the past years in PLM. Our primary focus was on how to enable collaboration by seamless access to design, models, visuals, processes in the end. Even so, this is exactly my point – we enable collaboration when people actually ready to collaborate on something. If you are sending request to you colleagues with a specific 3D fragment, problem, issue etc. All these situations can be grouped as “intentional type of collaboration”. Your intent is to collaborate, so it makes things easy.
Now, let me come with a different type of collaboration – accidental. For me, the main distinguished situation in this case, that this type collaboration happens not according to the initial intent. So, you are not allowing people to collaboration with you, but use information created by somebody else to collaborate on the specific topic. I will give you few examples of accidental collaboration: 1/ your discover a specific design problem happened to machine you design in the past; 2/ you are analyzing support case and discover how to improve machine or process; 3/ you are looking on revenues from your products and discover something specific comes out of machines or products you are working on.
Now, what is similar in all these situations (and maybe you can come with something in addition). You have no specific intent to collaborate. A collaboration happens by accident when you work in the context of a specific set of data. This specific set of data is not created for this collaborative purpose, but was created by somebody else, or even a result of combination and/or manipulation on data. Sounds like simple, right? However, in my view, this is terrible missed point in today’s collaborative systems. Most of the tools to support accidental collaboration, today developed by implementation services and target a specific customer need. There is very little generic support for such tools.
So, what should be done, in my view to improve PLM ability for accidental collaboration? Below are few proposals how we can better facilitate accidental collaboration:
1. Usability of product data representation. As much more we will be human oriented, more information will be available for users
2. Use “contextual patterns” of user experience. Facilitate presentation of information in the context of particular topic – user, product, operation, requirements, customers.
3. Improve annotation capabilities. Improve an ability of the system to annotate information. It will allow to create additional data, contextually connected.
4. Improve data portability. We need to have an ability to transfer data between systems in enterprise. It will allow transparency and connection of information.
5. Improve Business Intelligence. To have additional BI capabilities will allow to mine and extract data, previously hidden from users.
I’m sure this is a not exhaustive list of needs. However, following these needs will allow to streamline collaboration significantly. How do you see it? Do you have similar cases in your organization? Does it make sense to you?