New Collaboration and Data Hostage Game

Think about the most overused term in PDM/PLM software for the last decade (or even more). Collaboration. It was developed and sold in different flavors and packages. Remember CPDM – Collaborative PDM? Later it became Collaborative PLM. Moreover, don’t forget e-Collaboration and many others. If you want to refresh your memory, navigate to the following link with CIMdata article – Definition of cPDM.

Time is moving fast. Last decade of internet, consumer devices, mobile and web 2.0 changed the face of how we share information and collaborate online. At the end of the day, I need to collaborate with my family, kids, friends and I do it on-line in a very efficient way. So efficient, that the question "how I can do the same in my company?" becomes almost obvious.

Earlier today, the following paper commentary from CIMdata came to me via twitter (thanks Chad Jackson for his tweet). The article The Changing Face of Collaboration (Commentary) is speaking about how Collaboration is changing as a result of influence made by the technology, mobile and consumer based software. Here is the first important passage I captured

In many ways we are witnessing the convergence of a number of technology-driven themes that have the potential of significantly changing collaborative work processes within and outside of a company’s four walls. The first technology-driven theme can be categorized as the consumerization of information technology (IT). The second is the explosion in the availability, capability, and usability of mobile information delivery devices. And the third is the entrance of social media-savvy individuals, who’ve grown up using Facebook, Twitter, and the Internet, into the corporate workforce. This convergence is well underway and today’s companies need to prepare and implement the appropriate processes and technologies that support the new way of collaborating.

Later, author is making the conclusion about the absolute need to develop new collaborative processes, otherwise we will become dinosaurs of the previous PLM solutions. Here is another passage:

The need to define and enable new collaborative processes and enabling technologies are not optional, they are mandatory–not only for Generation Y but also for the rest of us who need to compete in this highly collaborative and connected world. Without providing the correct level of support, today’s PLM solutions will be tomorrow’s legacy systems.

Well, we have a bunch of new technologies, new Gen-Y workforce. What next? What needs to be done in order to deliver a new kind of collaborative processes? It made me think about openness again. Let think about the web and social networking. Availability of the information on the web was one of the most important prerequisites allowed companies to develop websites and apps that deliver value (starting from Google search and ending with last social nets like Pinterest).

There is a problem that does exist in all PDM / PLM systems. These systems are taking data hostages. Let me explain what I mean. Whatever they manage – files, processes, communication stays in the system. In general, almost all of them claim openness, but in practice it doesn’t mean much. You can make a test by trying to share data out of these systems using some generic infrastructure without exporting the date (for example, in Excel file). How I can share Bill of material from my PDM system in SharePoint without exporting it? How I can share preview of my CAD model on the supplier website of my company without "dance with a tambourine" and additional coding?

What is my conclusion? In order to facilitate collaboration, PDM/PLM software products need to stop taking data hostages. It means sharing of information out of these systems needs to become a first priority for product data management software. The open infrastructure of data sharing will create a new eco-system that will help people to collaborate. After this stage, we can expect many other companies and products to come with applications helping people to collaborate using openly available information. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

image credit sheelamohan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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