Social PLM and Customer Data

The online space influence on the enterprise systems and processes is increasing. During the last year and half, we have seen a significant move of enterprise software vendors to step into the social online environment. Various projects, ideas and innovation sparked. PLM was the not outstanding body in this process. We had multiple conversation and discussions about various social aspects of PLM. Most of the discussions we had so far were about what is the potential of social software application in the enterprise domain. This is so called- social software imitation. There are many examples of such imitations. Actually, I’m not taking imitation as a bad thing. So, some of the examples like Twitter vs. Yammer or Facebook vs. Chatter or system like Vuuch thinking about Facebook for Files. I’d like to speak about another Social PLM options – customer data.

Customer data is something that traditionally considered as a domain of CRM. At the same time, I think, we are often eliminating a huge benefit customer data can bring us as a source of information that can help us during product development and planning. In the end of the day, most of the manufacturing businesses are selling their products to people (I’m excluding some specific defense projects, of course). Knowing various customer data pieces and connecting them together with a product development process, we can gain a different level of customer need understanding, trending topics, priorities, interests and even current product problems. I’d like to identify three potential steps into Social PLM work with customer data.

1. Product Marketing Initiatives
The first rule of all social systems is very simple. You need to give away something valuable to get traction of data backwards. So, in the context of product development, I think, the best thing is to benefit marketing with some new opportunities related to product materials based on modern PLM technologies. 3D, Visualization, Simulations, Product Configuration and many others. All these stuff can excite customers and helps to establish customer-manufacturers relationship

2. Data, Trends and Analytic
This is simple and complex at the same time. Online social data provides a huge resource of information about various aspects related to demographics, personal and group interests and many others. If you are not taking care of this information, your business is simply blind… I think, manufacturers already started to understand it. However, to have a good product related context in such researches is very important.

3. Monitoring and Communication
You need to watch what your customers are doing all the time. These are the best indicators and alerts for many processes in the organization. A good example is product quality issues. If you can be on track with what your customer is saying online about your product, you will be a King of the future social product development.

So, this is my short insight on potential opportunities of Social PLM and Customer Data. What is my conclusion today? I think, PLM heavily underestimates the value of customer data. For most of the organization  Product Development communication with customers and channels is on a very low level. Ability to track social and customer data, understand trends and run various analytic inside of the product marketing and development is very limited. It sounds as an opportunity for me.

Just my thoughts… I’m interested to hear your voices on that.
Best, Oleg

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8 Responses to Social PLM and Customer Data

  1. Rami Hascal says:

    Hi Oleg,
    If this is your plan, I am in. Very interesting observation of how to put into a good use all the information out there. This can be a great hit.

  2. Hi Rami, Thanks for your comment! Social Space is an interesting one. However, I’m not considering it as a plan… I think, organization is starting to discover the value of connection with customers. In my view, it comes mostly in the marketing these days. Nevertheless, I’m always happy to discuss all crazy ideas on the blog :)… Best, Oleg.

  3. Craig Rode says:

    Like all other areas of business, engineering is struggling with how to take advantage of the information being created in social networks, and vendors are chasing the idea. More than one PLM vendor is discussing plans for “Social PLM”. I see three levels: 1) Getting the information existing in CRM systems (customer didn’t buy because this feature was missing), 2) Engineering mining social sites (people on facebook are saying our product needs X) and 3) Direct participation of customers in the product management/requirements gathering stage. Could it advance further, with ‘wiki-engineering’? It doesn’t seem clear how one would control it…but certainly a possibility.

  4. Craig, Thanks for your insight! Certainly agree with 1 and 2. Not sure how feasible is 3, since participation (or collaboration) is somewhat that has a tendency to be more complicated. In other words, I prefer “pull” (crawl) and not “push” (collaborate). Wiki-engineering is another buzz today. You can take a look on my post few days ago – How To Facebook PLM? (http://plmtwine.com/2010/03/11/how-to-facebook-plm/). The question of control is not relevant for me… Why control is important for your standpoint? Best, Oleg

  5. Roy Wildeman says:

    Hi Oleg,

    Your blog on Social PLM and Customer Data is a great read – thanks for sharing. I wonder if the opportunity to integrate customer data with product development is really a story of savvier product personalization. If design teams had more detailed information about individual consumers, could they not start to tailor and/or modularize their product offerings to better match individual requirements? I could also see opportunities in ongoing services (vs. the actual product) vis-a-vis well-timed upgrades or trade-in offers that match individual customer’s purchasing cycles.

    Just my 2 cents,
    – Roy

  6. Roy, Thank you for commenting and your insight. In my view, the potential to give more information to designers and engineers is huge and in my view can allow the next leapfrog in the manufacturing. And it can be very aligned with “customization” or “individualization” trends in manufacturing. Best, Oleg

  7. Jon Armour says:

    Good article, i think its a great opportunity for companies to get to know their customers and feed it into product design; also why not use the social platform for customer trials and testing, assessment of new ideas and thoughts as well as a good way to integrate customer feedback via channels other than the traditional ones.

  8. Jon, Thanks for your comment. Agree with your view. Social media allow you to have a better connection to customers and maintain a feedback. Best, Oleg

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