Old PLM Ideas and Google Reader Death

Google Reader will stop today. It is official. Huffington post placed an article Google Reader is officially dead this morning with smiling photo of Larry Page. The coverage of this event was huge for the last few month. The shutdown of Google Reader energized RSS aggregation business – few companies like Feedly and some others are doing well by capturing new customers as a result of this event.

Few years ago, RSS was a hot topic among enterprise developers. PLM was included. Companies tried to adopt and develop “enterprise RSS services” to aggregate and distribute the information coming from multiple sources in the company. Look on one of my old posts – How to improve PLM collaboration and information delivery with RSS back back 2009. You probably can also refresh your memory and read about what companies tried to achieve by reading this post as well – PLM Collaboration and Activity Streams.

Fast forward to 2010s. I have a huge set of feeds collected for the last 8-10 years. However, I found myself less interested in this collection. I’m still reading it and I migrated my RSS feeds to Feedly. However, I’m more looking for services like Flipboard, Twitter and other social collection that can provide more dynamic and less structured way to retrieve the information. The need to know hierarchy of feeds becomes a significant problem for me – I feel it not usable and the dependencies on a structure is not allowing me to bring the right topics up in my flat reading list.

Over the weekend, I had a chance to read TechCrunch article – You cannot quit Google Reader because I already fired you. I liked the following passage:

At one time, news happened at a pace that allowed it to be digested relatively slowly, in batches resembling what we were used to from the one or two-times a day print newspaper schedules. Google and RSS were fine for that; it’s like a digest that builds in near real-time, putting everything in one convenient place for you to come back to whenever you need to. Which is what some people still need it for, and that’s great.

But for me, and I’m sure for others like me who work in the online news space, at some point Google Reader just stopped feeling current enough, fast enough, and comprehensive enough. If Reader was the Model T, tools like Twitter and more timely and true real-time reporting tools that tell you when pages are updated the instant they’re updated became Edsel’s Model A.

It made me think about PLM collaboration ideas and structured information. For long time, product development was tightly dependent on structured information. Very often people called it BOM (bill of materials), but it often comes in a different ways and can contains lots of other structured enterprise product development stuff – processes, products, customers, deliveries, etc. To communicate using these structured sets of information is complicated. This is why, many people are requesting to change this type of collaboration and bring new fresh ideas. It is complicated to hold the information about entire product, assemblies, parts, suppliers I have to manage or deal with. However, thinking about my tasks, I’d prefer the information coming to me in flat way prioritized with time stamp – today, this week, next week, next month, etc. It will not destroy the nature of structured information, but will change the way I communicate with it.

What is my conclusion? The old (structured) way to collaborate is dying. It doesn’t mean we need to dump it tomorrow. However, we need to re-think it and find a better way to collaborate around working topics, products, BOMs, assemblies and other things we are designing. Social streams and flat ways to organizing information is getting more “likes” from people these days. PLM vendors need to take a note. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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