PLM Content and Facebook Open Graph

April 28, 2010

Facebook F8 conference this week was a place for some very interesting announcements that, in my view, may have an impact on PLM too. I can recommend you to read a good summary of news introduced by Facebook here. In my view, it presents a very interesting dimension in the future development of Facebook. The question I’m asking – should PLM care? Is there something new presented by Facebook, that can catch a focus of current and future PLM development?

Web Content Creation

Facebook is making next steps in the development of content on the web. FB introducing a new way to build social sites where a site itself converted into meaningful content item able to accumulate links to other elements of web content. It presents another dimension in the way web content can be structured.

Social Graph

The notion of connection between social sites is presented in the Open Graph Protocol. Facebook OGP API will provide a way to browse through dependencies and connection between content elements based on social dimension. This is a very interesting approach in the development of rich metadata about web content.

PLM Content

I see a comparison between the way Facebook is building social web content and PLM content. For the last few years PLM presented a very hardwired way to create structured content. It creates a lot of complexity in user interaction and tools integration. The fundamentals of this content are in the ability to structure product information in various dimensions – design, bill of material, projects, etc. The similarity between Facebook social content and PLM structured content is obvious to me. However, Facebook presented an interesting approach to build it. There are several developments on PLM horizon that can fit such concepts – DS/BlueKiwi, PTC Windchill/SharePoint, Vuuch. It will be interesting to see the future development of these products.

What is my conclusion? Facebook is going to change a way to create the web content. Current PDM/PLM software seems very cumbersome from the standpoint on how to interplay with user on content creations. PLM can learn few lessons about how to create a content in the organization and across the value chain. Some concepts and ideas can be replicated in my view. What is your opinion?

Best, Oleg

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PLM, Product Development and Social Search

April 27, 2010

Last week I wrote a post about how I can see twitter and other social tools can be used to predict the future of products. As much as social tools’ popularity is growing, the importance of monitoring these tools are growing. Manufacturers in consumer goods, telecommunication and others facing end users (but not only), can think about various ways to get input from social environment these days. I can see multiple use cases.

Requirements Gathering
Social space can be an excellent environment to find what are your potential customers are looking for. There is a real possibility to establish a set of keywords that can be used to find them out. The same social connections (i.e Twitter and Facebook) can be used to communicate new products with advanced features.

Quality Monitoring
Another interesting use case, in my view. I can see multiple users communicate the experience about a product they use in the social network. Pro-active monitoring of such experience can provide a good input to quality department and help to fix product problems on the early stages of usage.

Competition
The competition is a significant threat for most of the manufacturers these days. You can use the same social tools to monitor your competitor’s activity. In my view, it becomes a must thing to do nowadays.

I’d like to put below a short collection of various online social search and monitoring tools. These tools mostly cover Twitter, Facebook, Social Bookmarking sites such as digg, redit and some others. This is of course not exhaustive. I had chance to listen to Steve Arnold presentation yesterday and would like to give me credit to him related to the selection of search tools. I loaded most of the examples and links with “Product Lifecycle Management” keywords. This is what I’m monitoring. However, you can play around various keyword selections relevant to you.

Topsy. A search engine powered by tweets.

Sency. Search what is going on.

Its Trending. a real time feed of the most shared content on Facebook

Glozer. What is trending online?

Tweetmeme- Hottest Links on Twitter.

Collecta.Real-time information.


Itpints. Real-time search.

Scooper.


What is my conclusion today? It is amazing how much information you can find these days. As a manufacturers, you can get a significant competitive advantage in using these tools. As a software vendors, you can get an ultimate connection to your users and their experience. This is, of course, an addition to all existing traditional methods of work.

Just my thoughts…
Best, Oleg

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Can PLM Use Twitter To Predict The Future Of Products?

April 19, 2010

I can see multiple debates these days related to the social software – Social Networking, Microblogging and others. Despite the absolute success of websites like Facebook and Twitter, there are still a lot of questions related to benefits of such software and experience for enterprise and product development. I see two possible direction, social software can be used in product development and PLM: Collaboration and Business Analytics. Collaboration was the first obvious space, where developers of CAD and PLM software focused on. It was pretty simple. Web 2.0 apps drove lots of interest and provide attractiveness to be applied in the product development. However, the second option seems to me very interesting.

Product Intelligence and Social Trends Analysis

I had chance to come across the following post on BrainSolis blog. Brian wrote about Twitter trending topics and potential power of untapped information that located in Twitter. It made me think more globally about possible usage of analytics in analyzing trending topics on the market of specific products as well as related problems such as deflects, claims and other situations. You can, for example, to use tools that calculate number of times a specific word or phrase mentioned on twitter.

Product Development Tools Evolution
What do you think about the future of your design tool? During last years, I had chance to hear lots of debates about that. One of the topics that requires attention is related to how we can increase intelligence of design tools to empower engineers towards getting better decisions. I can see multiple directions here – physical analysis, visualization, intelligence. Ability to add more tools and capabilities in hands of engineers and developers can be beneficial.

Product Planning and Social Analytics
Ability to analyze potential of the future product can be a powerful option. It can come in the context of different phases of product development. In the planning phases- to understand what is trending on the market, during advanced development phase – to see potential social communication related to future development, during the maintenance phase- do discover bugs and other customer issues.

What is my conclusion today? Social software provides an interesting area, since it touches the communication with existing and potential users. Users are the most important asset for any company. To be able to get more information about them can be an interesting opportunity for the future PLM and related development tools.

Just my thoughts…
Best, Oleg

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PLM and Social Tools: The Odd Couple?

April 13, 2010

The number of companies and products that are trying to jump into the social tools bandwagon is growing. At the time when social tools impose a significant influence on the minds of corporate decision makers, I want to discuss how potential implementation of social tools will influence the development of PLM and PLM processes management in the organization. There is no strong definition about what is “a social tool”. When I’m thinking about them, I assume the number of tools focused on the ability to provide communication and collaboration in the style development by Web 2.0 -like websites. Web 2.0 communication practices moved from the web inside of organizations. You can take a look more on this in the following wikipedia article, which, in my view, requires on going review and adjustments.

PLM and Process Management

For the last few years, PLM implementation started to focus on the practice of collaborative business process development. It was an interesting turn, since it provided a way to move out of simple data hostage with check-in/checkout/release procedures. For PLM it was a way to develop business process management practices for the organization in the area of product development and engineering.

I had chance to discuss PLM process management before. You can take a look on some of my previous posts: PLM Process Management Technologies and What is beyond Collaboration and Process Management in the organization?

Social Tools and Collaboration.

Collaboration was always in the hot spot of PLM process management discussion. Design and engineering require massive involvement of people communication and, therefore, was different from typical BPM (business process management) practices. Social tools presented a new, attractive way to collaborate between people. Web groups, online chats and instant messaging are going to convert themselves into Business Communities and Social Collaboration. It looks like a very nice marketing. What technologies are behind of that marketing buzz? Wiki, Blogs, Microblogging and Social Networking tools with modern web based user experience. These technologies emerged as a new wave of tools that might change the game of collaborative practice in the organization.

There are few very interesting examples in this space. Last week I came across the following announcement made by Chameleon Software Launches its New App on Salesforce.com’s ChatterExchange. Also, I had chance to discuss various options in the development of social tools for PLM before in the following post – Social PLM Options. There are many other examples too…

PLM Process and Social Tools Flirt
What happened to PLM Collaborative Business Processes Practices? The situation became really though, in my view. Part of PLM business process management move was to provide a valuable solution in their competition with ERP and BPM tools. However, the situation changed and social tools presented as a new attractive game changer for the enterprise organization. The obvious reaction of PLM market was to develop various offerings such as – Social Product Development, Social Innovation, etc. By doing that, PLM is trying to slide on Social Tools Wave and proliferate their offering into additional groups of users in the company. The place, which is currently occupied by Email and Microsoft Office. I see that as a nice flirt…

What is my conclusion? I think, social tools bring a new a significant wave into enterprise software development. However, I see social software entrance into PLM space as a very disruptive. PLM has a chance to lose all collaborative product development practices developed over the past 5-7 years and replace it by new technologies for social collaboration, which are basically a copy of Web 2.0 technologies transferred into enterprise. Where is the danger for PLM? Social tools and Web 2.0 practices impose a significant openness and absence of control over the content. It comes from the open web world. This is what users want. CAD/PDM/PLM considered a significant control over the content (IP) and processes. This is what IT wants. So, for me, they are looks as an odd couple. Will they be able to succeed together? This is a good question we’ll continue to ask in the coming years…

Just my thoughts..
Best, Oleg


How To Facebook PLM?

March 11, 2010

Continue the theme of disruption, I’d like to bring a new topic to discuss – Facebook. Actually, I discovered that Facebook was missed from the radar of Jim Browns alert about disruption. At the same time, I had chance to read a review about the new Facebook project called Titan – a full scope web mail.  So, I decided to bring Facebook’s topic up in the context of possible PLM disruption.

I’d like to identify three areas of PLM where Facebook concepts, technologies or applications that are crossing existing PLM capabilities – Content, Messaging and Social Collaboration. Let me talk about them separately.

Content
For each PDM/PLM system, this is a big question. During the product development lifecycle, we operate with a huge amount of content. Requirements, Design, Bill of Materials – this is the only small slice of all possible PLM scope. Current apps has grown into the huge level of complexity by presenting this content to the users. Sometime, you need weeks and training to understand to understand what actually you can see. On the Facebook side, I see a very interesting approach to present web pages with rich content. In Facebook, it comes from different users. The same may happen in PLM. Web pages with rich content can become the next user interface (or how modern lingo call it – user experience or UX). In my view, Facebook’s UX is good enough to be imitated by PLM vendors.

Messaging
Guess what? The numebr one app in the enterprise (and in PLM too) is an email. We cannot live without email these days. Everything, in the end, passed by email. Even if we are creating messaging systems for the enterprise, the fundamental requirement is to support information delivery via email. The bad side of the email solution is that it is not good to deliver rich PLM content. Btw, when I was looking on Facebook Titan Project, I’ve seen the same problem as a target for Titan. Most of the email solutions today, prevents us from delivery any content except of plan text. There is no 3D, Media and any other visualization techs. I’d expect from Facbook wizards to create email with Facebook’s face :)… This is sort of mix-up between rich Facebook content pages and slim email messages.

Social Collaboration
Finally, we are coming to the social topic. Facebook gathered huge experience in social communication. This behavior already was imitated and promoted in many other solutions (from Microsoft SharePoint to Salesforce’s Chatter). However, I do believe Social collaboration becomes an important mechanism that changes a communication pattern in the organization and between partner’s organizations. Some of these ideas already proliferated in new development (i.e. Vuuch, BlueKiwi) or integration and bundles (i.e. PTC Product Point).

So, what is my conclusion today? Facebook may have a significant influential power on products in the domain of PDM/PLM. Is it something in Facebook that can be used in PLM domain as is? No, I don’t see it that way. However, I’d expect lots of imitations. And this is a very good and interesting innovation strategy!

Just my thoughts…
Best, Oleg

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Social PLM Options

February 16, 2010

Social is hot. Social networks, social applications, social enterprise, social CRM… social PLM (?). I put a question mark, since I wasn’t sure if to use a word social is an appropriated in this context. What means “social” for PLM? How it is different from what we’ve been doing in PLM during the last decade?

Collaborative PLM
We used to apply the word “collaborative” in PDM/PLM context many times. Despite the magic of this word, for me, it was always about “working together”. And, I think, this is true. PDM and lately PLM put huge focus on how to share data in the organization, how to access this data collaboratively. It started from collaborative review and move into more complicated areas of design, engineering, etc. Collaborative technologies in PLM passed three stages: 1/Share Data; 2/Exchange Messages; 3/Work in real time.

Social Trend
The trend for social software started from Web 2.0. Actually, Web 2.0 was a lot about how we can generate content on the web. It started as blogs, wikis and web sites provided different user experience (i.e. flikr etc.). People started to collaboratively create content on the web. In the beginning, it was purely about technologies like AJAX and user experience. It was a turning point point for Enterprise 2.0- how to bring so successful Web 2..0 user experience and new models of communication and collaboration to enterprise. Within time, it came to the point where content became secondary and actually social communication (or people) came to the first place. The “aha moment”, in my view, was when everybody understood the value of collective information about social communication and data that people generate. It wasn’t about accessing data anymore. It was about how people interact and how to get value from this interaction.

Social Trend and Enterprise Software

Enterprise Software discovered hidden potential of social trend and implication on what currently happens in the enterprise. The first who came into this game was CRM, and it is obvious why it happens. CRM is all about communication with customers. However, who are your customers? These are the same people on twitter, Facebook, linkedin and many other social networks. So, if CRM can leverage this social communication, stay connected with customers, get feedback and early alert – this is a huge value for enterprise. Take a look on the video of industry analysts Michael Fauscette and Natalie Petouhoff discussing the intersection of Social CRM and the enterprise. Recorded at the Social CRM Summit last week. I found it very interesting.

In parallel, I can see other enterprise domains are also moving towards better understanding of what social trend can bring to them. I think, we are in the early beginning of this trend. Some elements of social software in the way of user experience, people communication started to appear in the portfolios of enterprise vendors. Community software is one example of that experience. I see it very positive. Social networks provided a very significant push to the development of social software. However, it was transformed into multiple “social platforms” in the enterprise. It was a funny transformation in my view. Now, every big enterprise vendor, started to propose their own “social network”. We are still not at the mature level. However, all trials are very interesting.

So, what about Social PLM?

Finally, I wanted to get back and answer on the following question: where is the intersection of social trend and PLM? In my view, implications can come in the three possible areas: collaborative technologies, user experience and value of social networks.

Collaborative Technologies: Social software developed bunch of very interesting technologies for collaborative work. These technologies related to the ability to manage big amount of data, involve many participants simultaneously. I’m sure PLM will need to learn lesson or two from this space. It contains a huge amount of innovative ideas and technological achievements. We are in the early beginning of this discovery.

User Experience: Social software came with the next level of user interface, usability, behaviors, etc. These fresh ideas and very broad use adoption level, need to be translated into PLM. Today’s PLM user experience is far from the consumer software level. We can see it started to happen already. There are multiple examples of re-use of Facebook’s user experience, Twitter micro-blogging communication, etc.

Value of Social Networks: This is the most interesting space, in my view. We will need to think how to bring accumulated value of social network into PLM. This is especially interesting for manufacturing companies facing consumer space. And, almost all manufacturers these days are looking how to get connected to the end users. Such social innovation can be a very interesting experience for Product Lifecycle Management.

Just my thoughts…
Best, Oleg

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PLM Social Disruption – Whom Should We Follow?

February 15, 2010

I want to get back to social applications and PLM topic. You can ask me why? Last week was the week Google Buzz was born. In my view Google did it, as usual, in  a very disruptive way. I remember, last year or so, Google introduced Google Profile. Nobody clearly understood what is that. I did one for myself. Last week everybody finally discovered what is Google Profile about – it is about your social identity. Btw, if you haven’t had a chance to read my Google Buzz notes, please find it here.

Google Buzz was a trigger, in my view, to start a discussion about what are fundamentals of social connection? What I like about social application is that all of them put people before processes. When I asked teenagers – why are you on Facebook? The answer was simple – because everybody is there. Interesting comparison was made – Facebook is the place to see and stay connected with friends and Twitter is the place to spy celebrities. This is an interesting observation. You are following people you consider as your social or professional connection. And existing social networks provide a clear answers – you can follow celebrities, friends, colleagues, brands- these are they way things become social.

Let’s get back to Product Lifecycle and Enterprises. The application of social tools in the enterprise is in the very early beginning. The most massive social attack on the enterprise is fast growing number of social platforms promising the creation of communities between users, customers, brands, etc. Chatter, 12sprints, BlueKiwi, PTC Social Product Development with Product Point… This is an incomplete list of all apps proposing creating of community of people like Facebook. Finally, we got the new one – “Facebook for files”. I got this definition from Chris at Vuuch in his post “Following A Friend Make No Sense”. So, “whom should we follow?” was the most important question for me to ask?

It is about people.
Files and other data were here before social systems came in. Somebody can put an assembly, file, word document. You never know somebody did something with that. If you will try to spy after all files, things can get crazy. But, if you are following people you’re working with, it can be more relevant. In the end, you are not working with millions. On average, you connected to couple dozens of people in the organization you work. So, stay connected with them, and you’ll get all you need.

It is about data you can get through your connections.
You work with people, so you can collaborate on data everybody owns. Design, bill of materials, changes, product definition, customer’s claims, etc. – all these collections of data can be available from the people are working with. So, stay online with your connections and you’ll have all up-to-date stuff. You’ll become a focal point for the data you own.

It is about openness and share.
If you are in the open social world – share what you have to say. If you’re in the organization – share what you need to work on. If you will do it, the most probably it will allow you to get connected to the right social focal points in your organization and extended enterprise.

What is my conclusion today? You cannot follow “data” or “files”, since data is not social. Files are not social. You can get connected to data by using your social connections. It doesn’t matter if this is an enterprise organization, your high school or college. The aim of social software is to bring “the relevant data” to you. So, in PLM – follow people you need to work within the organization. This will be your ultimate way to get the most relevant information you need. And this is, in my view, the purpose of social PLM (and other social apps)- to get your data by using your organization’s social network.

It will be interesting to know what do you think?
Best, Oleg

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Next Level of PLM Social Tools Development

January 8, 2010

I want to discuss what can be the next step in the development of social aspects of PLM tools as well as about what can become a major driver for future social PLM. Last year, we had chance to see multiple examples of how mature PLM vendors and small companies moved towards establishing products in the social domain. Social Innovation, Social Product Development, Social Design… All these buzzwords were used, but I want to dig inside and discuss how I can, practically, these tools can get some level of social acceptance in the enterprise.

Social vs. Siloed?

This is one of the questions that come to my mind when I’m thinking about multiple vendor race toward social tools. The major barrier is user adoption. How many social networks you can be a friend of? How you can track your participation in multiple forums, social groups, forums, etc. If tomorrow’s product will come as  social software from multiple vendors? SharePoint communities vs. Salesforce Chatter? How many other social networks and communities can practically exist in the organization? My conclusion is that social experience cannot be siloed  – the certain mechanism needs to be to allow people to communicate across business application boundaries.

Social API

How to organize cross application social experience. This problem is not new these days and exist in multiple social networks we have today – facebook, linkedin, myspace, ning etc. The option to integrate communication across these networks can be development of some social API that allows to the communicate in a singular way. An example of such an API can be OpenSocial:

OpenSocial helps these sites share their social data with the web. Applications that use the OpenSocial APIs can be embedded within a social network itself, or access a site’s social data from anywhere on the web.

I’d recommend you to take a look on Open Social for Enterprise white paper. Some interesting concepts are defined there about how API can be used to allow cross application social tool to co-exist and not to be siloed into specific application niches.

OpenSocial Architectural Concepts

Broadly speaking, OpenSocial defines two concepts. The first is gadgets, a component model based upon HTML, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), and JavaScriptTM, that describes how content gets managed and rendered inside a Web browser. If you use sites like iGoogle, then you are already familiar with gadgets. The second is a set of APIs for accessing and working with social data. These APIs define how you access information about a person, their relationships, and their activities. These APIs are made available for use in gadgets, via a set of JavaScript APIs, as well as programmatically via REST. OpenSocial applications can take the form of gadgets that can be embedded into any container that supports the OpenSocial specification or traditional SOA services for integration. Taken together, the gadget component model, social APIs, and REST interfaces, provide a programming model that enables the creation of standards-based social applications.

You can see adoption of Social APIs and OpenSocial specifically for existing social networks from MySpace, Ning, LinkedIn, Google and some others.. .

What is my conclusion today? PLM is interesting to jump into social bandwagon. However, PLM will be able to do so only by adoption of some “open behaviors” that are considered as must-attributes of the social world. This is will be even more important in enterprise rather than in the consumer world.

Just my thoughts.
Best, Oleg

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Vuuch, Social PLM and Google Wave Evaluation…

January 5, 2010

Last year I had chance to talk about social aspects of PLM with Chris Williams from Vuuch.com. Moving enterprise software into the “social” direction is a very interesting aspect. The main change I see in this approach is that element of people communication becomes a main driver force for system to be used. This is an important element of the system adoption. I had chance to see many enterprise systems, implementing complex models, optimized processes, dashboards, etc .. However, all these systems were abused by users next day after implementation and introduction in the production environment.

The idea of social PLM is to build system on top of people’s communication models. I see a very interesting element of Vuuch is an attempt to build system on top of the most popular communication model – email. I don’t know about you, but I love and hate mail at the same time. Mail is dumb, simple and messy together. However, in the end, it is simple, available and works. Vuuch is trying to introduce the system that helps designers to communicate and collaborate by improving existing mail collaboration models. It brings specific product connections (i.e SolidWorks, Office tools) to the mail communication model and by doing so, it makes your collaboration more intelligent. This is a very interesting approach, and I want to see what will be people adoption for such a communication model in the future.

But, you can ask me how Google Wave is related to this conversation? Google Wave was a significant event last year and Google’s attempt to re-define email communication. You can refer to my posts last year to get more details (i.e. 6 Reasons Why Google Wave Will Change PLM Collaboration). I got my long awaited Google Wave invitation last year and started my Google Wave journey. I have to say that my reaction after 1-2 month of work was “love and hate”. I love it, since it introduced some interesting models merging IM (instant messenger) and mail together. The technological foundation and ability to collaborate at the same time are fascinating. However, on the practical side, I’m getting back to my mail for the moment. The most significant advantage for Outlook users is the message threading, but you can have this feature in gmail as well as in other mail systems (like Apple and some others). Other capabilities of Google Wave are still in very premature state and need to be developed to connect Google Wave as a collaboration foundation to the end-user tasks. This is a point of time I thought about Vuuch – combination of collaboration foundation with connection to the specific end user systems and function can be the key to the social PLM adoption.

What is my conclusion today? Social elements in enterprise software will continue to materialize and grow in my view. The examples will come from both sides – bottom up from vendors like Google and Microsoft in their try to redefine infrastructure and horizontal systems and top-down, from small companies like Vuuch trying to present specific social collaborative cases in vertical application domains.

Best, Oleg

PS. I will be watching this space. I’m going to see Vuuch demo next week on the Mass Innovation Nights event.


Next PLM Challenge: To Connect Process and Communities

December 9, 2009

Social is growing. During the past two years, we had seen many new topics introduced by social computing – social networks, communication, collaboration. A bunch of product were previewed, released… and already failed in this space. Enterprise 2.0 is growing as a separate and very interesting industry. The most visible social computing related movements in Product Lifecycle Management are DS Social Innovation and PTC’s Social Product Development – both pushing the power of social-network-like elements into PLM mainstream. I tried to analyze potential challenges in various aspects related to adopting of social software in Product Lifecycle Management and would like to share my thoughts and conclusions.

1. Organizational Social Network. With increased potential of social software, various communities of people will be established in the organization. They exist today. However, no software that can present it and support their activities. Transformed from various forums, portals, IM, wikis and other forms, these community building tools will play a role of “facebook of enterprise organization”.

2. Social Network interaction with Organizational Processes. Growing community activities in the organization will continue to take power of interaction between the people and. Therefore, questions of how business and organizational processes will be integrated into this communication will be raised very loud and very soon, in my view.

3. Community and Business Process co-existence. Ability to balance between well-defined development, engineering and other business processes compared to social intercommunication will become very important. Cannibalizing of each of them – communities or processes, can be very painful for organizations.

So, what is my conclusion today? Social networking in various appearances will be growing in enterprise and manufacturing organizations.They will become visible on different levels. The biggest potential mistake is to see them replacing “organizational business processes”. However, failing to establish a successful process management system (especially in development, engineering and manufacturing organization) can emphasize the role of social networks as a potential major process driver in an organization. To make it successful PLM needs to have a goal to connect organizational business processes with social networks. So, community-based interaction will be directed to replace business process management.

Just my thoughts. I will be looking forward to your comments.
Best, Oleg


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