Why social PLM needs search?

Social creates a lot of buzzes nowadays. Believe it or not, butmore than 72% of people in U.S. are now on Facebook. It is impossible to ignore, and I can see companies that trying to apply the idea of social networking to other places. PLM is one of them. Vuuch was one of the companies that pioneered the ideas of “social @ work”. Nuage is another one that came just recently by introducing Nuage Cafe social app as a first step towards fully blown PLM.

I’m not sure if “social” magic will make PLM idea more prominent. I think the devil in details. Working for enterprise and corporate clients is a different story. It is much different than Facebook. One of the companies that doing a great job by selling “social story” to enterprises is Yammer. I was reading BrainYard blog earlier this week called -Yammer Updates Emphasizes Enterprise, Cloud Search. What was interesting in this story is a connection made between Yammer social functionality and other on premise and cloud applications in the company. Yammer propose something they call “universal search”.

…Yammer’s concept is different. To Yammer, universal search makes it possible to search across connections to both enterprise and cloud-based systems integrated with a Yammer network. For example, a search by customer name might turn up automated updates from Salesforce.com, SAP, and a Microsoft SharePoint site, as well as posts by users about that company.

The idea of search crossing cloud / premise boundaries is another interesting point.

All the data that gets pulled out of systems to populate the ticker or activity feed also gets indexed for universal search,” CEO David Sacks said in an interview. “It really addresses the problem of how to get universal search across cloud applications. Traditionally, enterprise search appliances just crawl all the data behind the firewall.”

I think, Yammer take is interesting because it confirms that manufacturing (and other enterprise organizations) cannot live in “social vacuum”. You can bring Facebook to the organization, but without connecting social network to the right data sources, you will be struggling with your ability to deliver real value. Search is a fundamental mechanism to bring disconnected pieces of data together. PLM companies are thinking a lot about how to make it work. Almost all PLM companies in the past made OEM agreement with enterprise search solution (Authonomy, Endeca, etc.). Dassault Systemes moved forward and acquired Exalead to make search work across DS products. Siemens PLM just released TeamCenter Active Workspaces – innovative applications that use a search as one of the paradigms to access data. Startup companies like Inforbix(*) are experimenting with different ways to aggregate content across disparate applications to make it easy available.

What is my conclusion? Social is not a magic that converts enterprise software and PLM to “gold” overnight. You need to think how to “embed” social into your company infrastructure, connect it to other solutions. This is the only way to make it work. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

*Disclosure – I’m co-founder of Inforbix.

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