PTC Social Link and SharePoint: What the Future Holds?

One of the products I had a chance to review more closely earlier this week was PTC Social Link. I had a chance to post about social technologies before. Navigate your browser to the following links to read my earlier blog articles. Social PLM, Collaboration and Structured Discussion; PLM and Social Technologies Dating? Social Enterprise Discussion and Next Collaboration Buzz.

The following video provides a quick round trip for what PTC Social Link can do. Watch it and make your conclusion. I found it educational. According to the information PTC provided earlier this week, they are using Social Link internally to improve product development processes.


I found "an activity" concept interesting. Watch the following screen shot. As an engineer or a person in the organization you are interesting about what activities are running around a particular CAD model, drawing or similar piece of data. Social link gives you a summary view of activities placed alongside to this data.

Social Link, Technology and Web Parts

PTC is using SharePoint to implement Social Link. I can see some advantages in taking a leverage of Microsoft technological stack. SharePoint provides a good platform and Social Link leverage existing user experience, infrastructure and customization capabilities. To give you a glimpse of what is possible, navigate to the following link and read SharePoint 2007 Automatically updated web parts post. Web Parts is one of the fundamental elements of SharePoint technologies and Social Link uses it as well. However, if you don’t have in your team people familiar with SharePoint, this advantage can become a problem. It is your choice, of course.

What is my conclusion? PTC is thinking about social technologies. Social Link follows social hype, and you can find similarities with products like Chatter, SAP StreamWork, Vuuch and some others. The question I’m asking myself is what should be the preference of users in a company if they will have a choice between SAP, PTC and other "social technology" applications. My intuitive hunch is that integration with product content (i.e. CAD files, BOM, etc.) can be important. Just my thoughts.

Best, Oleg

[categories Daily PLM Think Tank]

7 Responses to PTC Social Link and SharePoint: What the Future Holds?

  1. Missy H. says:

    I am new to all this and try to read as much as possible to really understand just the basics. Your information has brought up some new thought processes for me. I had never heard of Social Link before and just wanted to say thank you for providing this in a very easy to understand format. The videos were very useful. I have bookmarked you and plan to come back.

  2. Kyle S. says:

    Very informative and real easy to understand. I had heard of Social Link before, but didn’t quite get it. Now I do!

  3. Kyle, you are welcome!

  4. Oleg,

    I have some reservations on using social media for product development – mainly on two conflicting usages – Either the input data will be so vast that it will take a large amount of time to make intelligent decisions based on it or Getting enough participants in an organization to use the tool. In case of the former technical and computing resources would be needed to help the user while in case of the latter one – I guess it will be more of a cultural issue.

    I think social media makes more sense for larger organizations where the team is geographically dispersed (potentially across number of time zones) – but for smaller departments an engineer could as well pick up the phone or talk to someone across the cube. The client for Social Link looks like an enhanced chat client and I think adding VOIP capabilities could drive in adoption. Also hopefully SocialLink (or any such platforms) archives all the messages and provides good search capabilities.

    Another concern I have is that there can be potentially numerous accounts of the same information, example – the design notes are captured in social link and probably something analogous would exist with the product related in Windchill – Would there be duplicity of efforts?

    Possibly these issues are by now covered in your earlier blog posts – I haven’t had an opportunity to read them all. My 2c’s.


  5. Jyotirmoy, thanks for your comment! I tend to agree – the value of social tools can be different and increased in larger organizations. In a smaller organization, it is much easier to talk and communicate (especially when everybody is in the same room). Access to the information is another key topic, in my view. However, this is not only about information produced due to social communication – it is much bigger, in view. I’m working on the problem of data access at inforbix – maybe you’ll be interested to see — Accessing AutoCAD, SolidWorks and PDF data in multiple departments ( Best, Oleg

  6. Thanks Oleg for pointing me to the video – I think people that kind of an application today! However I somehow feel that you guys might be competing head on with Google Search Appliance: Intranet Search They already support some 220 file formats including AutoCAD.

  7. Jyotirmoy, well, you can think about some similarity with GSA. In fact, what is different is the way we allow people to access information – it is going beyond simple document oriented keyword search (gsa is doing so). Inforbix can discover product data in multiple destinations, establish relationships between diverse and disparate data sources. However, the question you are asking is a typical one, so we addressed it in one of our blog posts. Take a look – In addition to that, you might be interested to read this – I hope you find it useful. We can discuss it, of course. Best, Oleg

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