Why Engineers Don’t Like Company Private Social Networks?

Couple of weeks ago, I discussed the potential of Yammer / Microsoft bundle to influence PLM field – Will Microsoft-Yammer kill Social PLM… Not yet. Actually, it seems to me Yammer indeed created some influence on what startups in PLM field are doing.Vuuch, last announcement introduces the ability to create company discussion groups.

In a nutshell, it looks exactly like Yammer idea. The employees of any company can register with their company emails and get an access to discussions inside of the same domain. Here is the link to a short video I found in the email from Vuuch:

Social PLM attempts

In my view, Vuuch is one of the leaders in trying to apply "social-networking" ideas in product development and enterprise. I can see similar attempts coming from large vendors too. The videos below show Dassault 3DSwYm and Windchill SocialLink experimenting with the idea of communities for product development.

Can we ask engineers to behave in a social way?

When you speak about communities, the adoption is a key. Yammer claimed 5 million users and 85% of Fortune 500 companies are using Yammer. Here is the link on Yammer’s Crunch base profile :

With a Freemium model, Yammer enables employees to voluntarily adopt the service. A premium version is available to paying customers and includes additional administrative and security controls, integration with other applications, priority customer service, and a dedicated customer success manager. More than 5 million users, including employees from 85 percent of the Fortune 500, have adopted Yammer’s Software-as-a-Service solution.

I wasn’t able to find numbers related to user adoption of social PLM tools. Are you aware about successful implementation of private social communities in product development and manufacturing? I wanted to raise a provoking question – what is wrong with social PLM communities? Is it about not attractive content, user experience, absence of interest and/or need?

Recently, GrabCAD raised quite many splashes in the engineering space – 250,000 engineers, 45,000 CAD models and 3M downloads. However, GrabCAD is not in the business of private communities for product development. Taking into account their latest announcement, I have to say "not yet". Another interesting example of community building is Local Motors – the place for people (engineers included) to create influencing vehicles together.

What is my conclusion? I think, PLM companies are missing some points in the space of social networking for enterprise. Here is my list of suspects – complicated user experience created by social PLM pioneers, anti-social engineering nature, engineer’s focus on "cool stuff" and ignorance of corporate oriented tools. These are just my guesses and thoughts… I’m interested in your opinion. Speak your mind…

Best, Oleg

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

4 Responses to Why Engineers Don’t Like Company Private Social Networks?

  1. Hi Oleg,

    I recently saw Dassault’s 3DSwYm in action, which is also a very nice tool to build and manage internal communities. IMO, the most important thing missing is the ability to connect internal communities with external users or social platforms (Facebook, Twitter, etc).

    If PLM users want to gather feedback from customers and use it to improve their offering, they need to let people use the platforms they like and feel comfortable with – making them subscribe to yet another community and use another platform can be quite discouraging.

  2. Gabriel, thanks for the comment! in my view, it depends on what the role of these internal communities. Communication with public social nets is important, but it serve only specific role (eg. getting feedback from customers). At the same time, to improve communication and collaboration internally is not less important. IMHO. Best, Oleg

  3. Jeff Sweeney says:

    We use Yammer. The engineers tolerate it because it saves big long email threads and/or opening your email inbox and seeing 20+ emails all with the same subject line, because we tried to use email to discuss a topic.

  4. Jeff, thanks for your feedback. This is exactly how I see benefits of such type of software -cut long email threads. Best, Oleg.

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