PLM, Social and Fake Incentives

Social hype is over. Period. I hope, I’ve got a social attention now :). Despite that conclusion, social topic keeps me busy on the blog. A year ago I posted How to prevent social PLM from marketing fluff. My observation in that post came from watching multiple "Facebook clones" everywhere. Few weeks ago I posted some of my thoughts in another post – PLM and Common Social Platform Behavior. Despite initial energy around social tools, the overall social discussion in enterprise PLM is going down. The adoption of enterprise social platform in engineering is low. Systems like 3dSwYm, Windchill Social Link, Vuuch, SAP Social and others raised lots of hype, but went down in most of places. The core problem is content. CAD, PLM, ERP and other enterprise companies mimicked Facebook, but forgot about simple fact – content is a king. Without getting an access to the right content, social streams dried down.

One of my blogging buddies, Ed Lopategui put a very interesting write up on his engineering [engineering] blog called Antisocial Enterprise. Here are few interesting passages from the article:

The so-called enterprise social networking revolution, determined to transform business collaboration, is in a bind these days. Social continues to manifest itself as cloned Facebook functionality grafted on every enterprise tool from SAP to Windchill.

In the mad rush to bring the tenants of social networking into the day-to-day business, there’s been little time to understand true value. So it’s not all that surprising that true adoption has been lethargic, and that value has been fleeting.

An interesting scenario I recently heard: employees mandated to use Yammer at their company, simply have setup spam filters to keep all the Yammer traffic from bothering them. Yammer Spammer? That has a nice ring to it, actually.

Despite all these varied attempts, all these tools have remained so deeply buried into the Facebook model, that failure is definitely an option. Key example: most of the social enterprise demos have an interesting point of commonality – it’s not 3 minutes into any of the presentations, that someone points out where the like button is at.

Earlier this week, I was watching TechCrunch disrupt interviews. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer discusses her observations about Google CEO Larry Page and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2013 event. Here is what Marissa Mayer said about Zuck -

I have not interacted much with Mark Zuckerberg, but when I have met him I have been blown away by his insight into people. Not surprising to me he has created an amazing social tool, because i think he is insightful into people and their psychology and what drives them.

Last statement made me think again about the value of social systems for enterprise and engineering / PLM specifically. The creators of enterprise social networks missed the insight on what drives enterprise people. This is where I see the main cause of failure. I call it "fake social incentives". Most of engineers and other people in a company are asking a question – why should I put myself on inter-company social network? Does it help me to solve a problem and get my job done faster? Overall hype around social networks made many people in companies joining enterprise social systems. It was popular and, in many situations, driven by management and top execs. However, within time, the last one gone. Social interest of engineers and other people has been fleeting.

What is my conclusion? Value is a most important incentive to use tools. Your incentive to be on inter company social network can be driven only by value it brings. To create a Facebook clone with "like behavior" is not enough. Fake incentives have short lifetime span. Content and open data sharing can solve the problem. Engineering social tools should provide an easy way to publish and provide a context for communication. This is absolute prerequisites to make ‘social technology’ successful. Just my thoughts..

Best, Oleg

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2 Responses to PLM, Social and Fake Incentives

  1. Alec Gil says:

    Oleg, thank you for this entry. I think the question of value is the preeminant one to this discussion. While being generally open to “social” in the engineering and manufacturing world, I remain sceptical because, so far, no one has been able to clearly articulate the value of “social” interactions in this arena. In fact, one may argue that people’s motivations to be social on Facebook are very much at odds with the typical problem solving dynamic of the engineering environment. It just does not seem intuitive that the tools that aggregate product or process knowledge to help support decision making can be easily presented in a “social” format. And if they are, it feels more like a forcefit than a true social interaction.

  2. Alec, thanks for your comment! I agree with you – drivers of social interaction in engineering and manufacturing world are different from Facebook. This is where I see a problem with most of “social PLM” assumptions for the last 3-4 years. However, the idea of “sharing” can hold. However, it should be integrated in everyday working procedures or other processes. The last one is critical and, IMHO, this is a main reason social PLM failed so far. Best, Oleg

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