From Design Collaboration to CAD Social Tools

Social is a magic word many people use nowadays. After social networks “grand-success”, many people in PLM industry are thinking how to apply the power of “social” to improve existing PDM and PLM. The topic that asked by most of the people is how to improve collaboration by applying some of know best practice developed by social networking.

AutoCAD Design Feed

I’ve been reading announcement made by Autodesk about AutoCAD WS Design Feed. Navigate to the following blog post to learn more. I found it quite interesting. Discussion feed became very popular tool in social collaboration. We can see examples of discussion threads in tools like Facebook and Twitter. Similar tools (but in the context of enterprise and business) are available in tools like Yammer and Salesforce.com, etc.

The idea of Design Feed is exactly that. Here is how it explained in AutoCAD WS Blog: Using the Design Feed you can attach a post to a specific point or area in your drawing to draw attention to a feature of your design and encourage discussion.

What I especially like in this tool is the idea of “context”. You can select a point of interest in the drawing such as entity or space area. Context makes the conversation powerful.

Design Collaboration Origins

“Collaboration” word is a tricky in PDM / PLM business. Companies really overused the purpose and meaning of what collaboration does. To me, collaboration was always the ability of people to work together. One of the earlier examples of design collaboration was presented by Dassault Systems in 3DLive back in 2006. Watch the following video for more details.

Pay attention how different people can collaborate on the context of 3D model. You can find a lot of similarities with “social discussion” tools.

“Design discussion” Origins

Another interesting example from the earlier days of social tools for CAD designers related to Vuuch. One of the early ideas of Vuuch is so-called design discussions or Facebook for files allowed to engineers and other people to create a “discussion” in the context of a specific CAD file. View Vuuch video that was made couple of years ago presenting this feature.

What is my conclusion? The value of marketing flyers and buzzwords is decreasing these days. It less matter to people how you call the tool. How to get a job done? Engineers and other people in a company are trying to answer to this question. I can see how social paradigm plays in collaborative and social tools. To provide context driven simple user experience seems to me a key. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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