Community Based Planning and Future PLM Industry Roadmap

July 4, 2012

Social becomes a norm these days. It is interesting to see how many things surrounding us transformed and wearing "social clothes" these days. One of the elements of social impact in the realm of manufacturing and engineering software is an increased influence of "communities". Software vendors and customers recognized the value communities can bring to improve the quality of software and the efficiency of internal and external processes.

Engineering and manufacturing software is characterized by a high level of requirement diversification. Therefore, requirements and functionality are one of the most argued topic in PLM software. Recently, I observed an interesting social experiment – an attempt to bring customers into the discussion of what the software should do.

One of the examples came from Aras Corp and related to PLM Roadmap on the website. The roadmap is a web site with a publicly available plan of features of Aras Innovator. Web site gives you an ability to vote for a particular feature exactly in the same way you can do "Like" or "+1" in social networks. The idea seems to me great and provides an excellent example of openness and flexibility in functional planning.

Another example came from Autodesk. Navigate to the following link and see Autodesk discussion forum. According to my understanding, each forum belongs to a particular module, product or package. Users have an ability to discuss ideas in this group and have a possibility to "Vote" for a specific functionality by providing "+Kudos" to a particular idea.

PLM roadmap challenge

If you take 3 people and ask them about PLM features and functions, you are in a high risk to have at least 5 opinions. Actually, it is not a joke. To have an agreed PLM roadmap is a challenge. Very often, even experienced product managers, can be challenged by how to drive an optimal roadmaps and implementation priorities.

What is my conclusion? How to plan PLM software functionality? I can see it very often as a challenge for many companies. Community based voting can provide a flavor of openness to customers. It seems to me as an innovative way to think about planning process. At the same time, I want to go even future and share PLM functional breakdown outside to create an industry PLM roadmap. What do you think about this idea? Speak your mind. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Microsoft Socl and Social PLM Thoughts

November 21, 2011

Do you know what is Microsoft Socl? I didn’t know until yesterday. However, now I know. It is a new research project by Microsoft, which supposed to become a next social network. Mashable just wrote about it four days ago here. Who is behind this project? This is what Mashable article says:

First published by The Verge on Wednesday, Microsoft tells Mashable that, “Microsoft’s FUSE Labs is an internal research group working on a number of forward-looking projects related to future possibilities around social search. Socl is one of the projects that we are exploring. We’ll let you know as soon as we have more to share.

However, watch the video:

You may ask me- how it is related? We already got MySpace, Facebook, Google+… now what? – Socl. Here is the point. As you probably know, I’m less interested in social networks, but more interested in PLM management.

Will PLM lose social competition to CRM?

The PLM vendors recently speaking a lot of “social” and how it is going to change their product offering. I had a chance to write about it multiple times. However, I want to point out to one specific blog I wrote 2 years ago (24-Nov): How many social platforms we need for enterprise? I wanted to get back to the same question again when I was watching socl video by Microsoft. At the same time, PLM vendors are developing social platforms – PTC, Dassault, Autodesk… Everybody is trying to play this social card.

I can see a very significant problem for all PLM social solutions – they are disconnected from people. Don’t take me wrong – obviously people are using PLM solutions in enterprise companies. However, the majority of people are not. Remember, time ago, PLM competed with ERP about “who” owns the item definition. ERP won, PLM lost the competition. Why do you think it happened? In my view, here is the reason – you have to to touch “Item Master” to manufacture the product. So, you will use ERP and it manage Item masters. You are not necessarily needed to touch “item” to run PLM. You can do it, of course. However, it happens much rarely. The same happens with social and CRM. If you are contacting your customers – you must be social. Therefore, everybody will touch Salesforce.com Chatter or similar social platform from CRM provider. However, PLM social platform will be downgraded to people that touch PLM platform only.

What is my conclusion? Social platforms cannot change the position of a system in the organization. You need to have people around the social platform to make it work and progress. It happens to CRM, but it probably won’t happen to PLM. So, maybe PLM vendors need to focus on something 100% of the users need? Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Social PLM Inbox and Changing Paradigms

November 19, 2010

The Facebook announcement about introducing of FB messaging system triggered a flood of posts. I’ve been looking over them for the last couple of days. I liked the following one – Locked in paradigms. This is my favorite quote about what Facbook is doing:

I very much get it that this is [Facebook messaging] a lot bigger than email and that’s kind of the point. Facebook apparently isn’t interested in building an email system and because they don’t already have an email system that acts like Gmail or Yahoo Mail they can break free from that paradigm.

Facebook Messaging Paradigm

Take a look on the following video. I found it impressive. The idea of simplification in communication and message tracking is powerful. Facebook is taking on an email paradigm and trying to change it. You don’t need to keep an email address of people you want to talk to. You just look for them on FB and talk. Simple? Yes. However, only if these people are on FB.

Product and Social Context

The battle of Facebook with Google isn’t exactly a topic for my blog. However, the idea of paradigm breaking made me think about some attempts to leverage the power of social business in PLM business. Few days ago, I posted an article about the potential of social systems like 3DSwYm to turn PLM into a mainstream. The key point, in my view, was about how to improve content sharing in the organization to streamline collaboration between people. Chad Jackson of Lifecycle Insights commented in a very interesting way:

With FB as well as many other social computing platforms, the context is always YOU. That assumption enables a whole host of simplifications in terms of the software system. Alternatively, the context in product development isn’t you, it’s the product, a project, a part or so on. That complicates things dramatically because you have to post/submit content to the right context and you also have to subscribe/follow the right context.

I found this a bit confusing. If I’m thinking about communication, it focused on the social aspects of communication. When I’m on FB, I’m communicating with all people and/or friends, depends on my privacy settings. Lately, FB came with the idea of ‘Groups’ which allows to think about community building in a similar way 3DSwYm, Chatter and other are doing. The context of communication is a content I put on Facebook. Alternatively, if I’m communicating with my blog readers, the context is my blog post. By finding an interesting content, I can interact with people on FB, Twitter and other social network.

If I turn it to product development, the picture is absolutely similar. I need to communicate with people. The purpose of my communication is business matters. Product design, changes, discussion, etc. Who is the people I need to communicate? The purpose of a social system is to identify them. If I will think about a system like 3DLive, Windchill Social Link of HD 3D, I can see how people can find who made changes for Assembly, Part, Drawing, etc. System likeVuuch, introduce an interesting way to find who are the people connected to Product, Part, BOM by enabling an explicit creation of these social links. The efficiency of a system to identify who is the right person(s) to talk to will define the overall value of the social system.

Will Social System Take Over the Email?

This is one of the most important questions to ask. Email is simple and dirty. People hate it and use it all the time. Facebook is trying to change this paradigm. They are eliminating the need to handle “email body” – to/cc/bcc/subject, and just communicate with people you’re connected to. Social system like Vuuch, 3DSwYm or Windchill Social Link can probably do the same. I found the following quote in another email by Chad Jackson – Vuuch: A unique approach to social computing is product development.

Centralized correspondence is a significant improvement over email. Despite availability of PLM collaboration capabilities, social media sites and instant messenger, I’ve found that email is the medium used most frequently for this sort of correspondence in product development today. I’ll get into the pitfalls of email for product development correspondence in a future post, but suffice it to say that emails can be forgotten, deleted or lost in your inbox. Use of a centralized server to manage the correspondence means it’s kept as a traceable trail that can be accessed by wider audiences at a later date.

Well, email also operates with a centralized server. Do you think a social system in product development will be able to lock everybody in the same server? My hunch is that this will be a very hard thing to do. Email is reliable because it operates in a virtual space of SMTP servers. Google talked about Wave Servers a year ago. PLM collaboration tried to lock people in a single point of a truth system. I can search in my Gmail. Is it equivalent to a single collaborative server? I don’t think so. However, it is still an email. It is relatively easy to find things in my gmail box. The question of simplicity is important. If “a social” or “whatsoever other system name” will be simpler compared to the email and can find people to collaborate in an easier way than your email inbox, it wins.

What is my conclusion? I can see the goal of a social system is very high and ambitious – to replace our old friend email. Facebook pretends to do so in the internet now. Companies like Vuuch will try to achieve it in a product development space. Google failed to deliver it with Google Wave. To learn this lesson is important. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


The Future of PLM Strategic Presentations?

August 25, 2010

Have you had a chance to see any PLM strategic presentation? I’m sure you did. You can find easy few of them by Google "PLM Strategy". How many times you’ve been looking on PLM strategic presentation and saying – hm, this is not exactly what I’m looking for. I was reading a USA Today article Graphic novel replaces business school text book yesterday. This is my favorite passage from this article:

"Textbooks are just plain boring," said Short, who is a professor of management at Texas Tech University. He said that standard business textbooks use a lot of disconnected examples and irrelevant stock photos, and he wanted to create something that would be "more like a movie," that would get the necessary points across while keeping students engaged.

PLM Presentations Boring?

A lot of PLM presentations are boring and can be predicted from the beginning. They contain a lot of pictures of products such as cars, planes, fashion and electronic to keep people eyes on it, but contain a little meaningful information. They are using complicated terminology that needs to be decoded and translated. Customer testimonials are also following strict and old fashioned way.

How To Engage with People?

The USA Today article made me think about a significant shift that needs to be made in the way we are presenting Product Lifecycle Management. I’d like to come with some ideas that can help to create a better PLM presentation:

1. Keep it short, focus on a single use case or benefit.
2. Use rich media – video, online slide presentation materials.
3. Interview customers and publish it.
4. Use comic video to explain what you are doing (Google is a master of such videos).

What is my conclusion? I think, what is important is to remember 7 seconds rule of attention. You need to keep person’s attention for the first 7 seconds. I think social media today provided a lot of examples how to do so. We need to learn how to use it. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


PLM and Social Connections

August 25, 2010

I’m continuing to explore various aspects of relations between PLM and social systems and tools in my blog. The social topic becomes interesting. However, I think social hype contains lots of misunderstandings and misconception. Few days ago, I had healthy debates with Chris Williams of Vuuch about PLM Social Detours. Chris is saying “PLM tools cannot be social. PLM targets structure, control and is only embraced by a small number of users”. This is the exact point I want to discuss today. The additional trigger to this conversation was the information about Cisco Pulse – a new tool developed by Cisco to empower people in an organization.

How To Connect People in Organization?

One of the latest innovations in Cisco related to adoption of social systems to empower people connection @work. Take a look on the following Cisco Pulse presentation.

Cisco Pulse presentation made me think about missing “social link” in the way PLM systems drive their enterprise adoption. For the moment, PLM relies completely on process management practices to expand usage of PLM tools in the enterprise. This is what drive people involvement into a product-related processes. However, this approach is absolutely ignoring the reality of communication between people in the manufacturing organization. The formal way to organize processes is probably not the best way to organize your work. There is a need to find a new way to build more efficient communication and collaboration in product development, manufacturing, support and maintenance.

Need for PLM Mainstream Adoption

The core idea of PLM is to provide a business strategy and tools to manage processes related to product development. One of the people concerns about PLM is “mainstream adoption”. PLM tools considered as too expensive and complicated to be adopted and used by all people involved into a relevant business process. There are multiple reasons why PLM got the status of “a privileged system”, and I covered and discussed it before on PLM Think Tank. As an example, take a look on one of my previous posts –  3 Main Factors of Mainstream PLM adoptions. It seems to me by bringing a “social connection” factor into PLM game can become one of the possible ways to expand PLM influence and level of adoption in organizations.

Social Connection vs. Follow a Friend

We are very familiar with “follow a friend” concept that drives mainstream adoption of social networks in consumer space. However, the very valid question when it comes to implementation of social systems in the enterprise organization is simple – who are my “friends”? Collaboration is not about friendship. Collaboration is about how to work with right people in the organization. They will become your “social connections”. And they are not constant. Your connections change all the time depends on work you are currently involved in.

What is my conclusion? I’m thinking about last 10 years of the internet and Web 2.0 innovation. It can bring some fresh air in the way people can collaborate and communicate in the enterprise manufacturing organization. PLM spent significant amount of time trying to formalize business processes and collaboration. It comes as a set of business process tools and industry and best practices. However, the complexity of the implementation is still very high. By bringing “a social connection” to PLM we can introduce a new way for people to collaborate. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


PLM Social Detours

August 18, 2010

I had a chance to read Enterprise Road Kill by The Vuuch Voice. The discussion Chris suggested in his post is going around usage of social tools in the enterprises. The idea of using social web experience in PLM is actively discussed by many people these days. Just to mention few references. Jim Brown published a very interesting publication Why Facebook Fail for Product Development? PTC is investing in Social Product Development with the new ProductPoint based on SharePoint’s social tools. In one of my previous posts, I discussed “Top 3 elements of successful social PLM strategy” – data, connectivity and devices. According to Chris, Enterprise Social Systems (ESS is a new invented term) will be capable of provide a better model for applying social software principles in organizations. In comparison to consumer social model of “following” or “friends”, the new ESS model defines “content” as a fundamental differentiation factor. It made me think in a broader scope of enterprise software trends and problems new software can solve for enterprise organizations.

Enterprise 2.0 Trend
E 2.0 is about to bring all experience of Web 2.0 and social web sites to enterprise. Thinking in the context of manufacturing organization is about to change the way people communicate. Nowadays, people can communicate easy online via IM, Skype, Facebook, Twitter and other social tools and websites. However, life is not as good inside of enterprise organizations. There are lots of rigid, complex and cumbersome tools. The implementations are long and expensive. Enterprise 2.0 supposed to change it.

Social vs. Collaborative
This is an interesting comparison, in my view. The “social web” or Web 2.0 was created as a web of collaborators. This is Wikipedia’s definition: The term Web 2.0 is commonly associated with web applications that facilitate interactive information sharing, interoperability, user-centric design and collaboration on the World Wide Web. Thinking about buzzword’s simplification, I need to replace a word “social” to “collaborative”. So, the fundamental question is how to re-use Web 2.0 technological and user experience to provide a better collaborative solution for organizations.

Content is a King
What make Web 2.0 powerful? This is my ultimative answer – content! Photo, video, blog article, message, comments – these are all elements of Web 2.0 content. What happens in the enterprise organization? Email is the mainstream content used by everybody in the organization. In order to collaborate successfully, the appropriated content need to be shared between people. Emails and Excel are two major tools that used today to successfully share content to collaborate between people. Rest of the tools is either complicated or very expensive or both.

Social Detour
What social detour can be provided by new tools to resolve problems related to people’s collaboration? I found the following quote from Chris’s post interesting:

OK so why not make the PLM tools social? PLM tools cannot be social. PLM targets structure, control and is only embraced by a small number of users. Design issues are connected to everyone in the enterprise and cross multiple applications. Imagine a simple design problem that connects together a purchase order, a part and people from purchasing, the vendor and engineering. This simple problem touches the CAD and ERP systems and maybe PLM (in many cases it would not), but most certainly it connects to people who will never be a PLM user.

If we want to address issues that require involvement of many people in the enterprise, we need to have a tool that everybody can use. Obvious. These tools need to use PLM content to collaborate. All major PLM providers are experimenting with social technologies to improve their collaboration tools. PTC Social Product Development with SharePoint, DS Social Innovation with BlueKiwi,Siemens with HD3D and TC communities. PLM is pretending on the role of a tool (or set of tools) that allows to everybody in the organization to collaborate on product design issues. However, this is not what happens. The reality is that Email and Excel are these tools today. PLM social detour is about how to improve PLM or create a new tool that can be used by broader community of people in the organization to collaborate. Web 2.0 and other social software experience can definitely help. To find appropriated Web 2.0 tools technologies and practices is the right way to do it.

What is my conclusion? PLM doesn’t proliferate well in organizations. The main reasons are complexity and cost of implementations. However, there is a need for better mainstream collaboration in the product development organization. Enterprise 2.0 trend presented a set of interesting options related to broad introduction of Web 2.0 technologies and experience of social websites (Facebook, Twitter and others). Will it serve as a “social detour” to take product development collaboration on the next level? This is a valid and important question, in my view.

Best, Oleg


PLM, Enterprise Social Software and Excel Litmus Test?

August 9, 2010

I want to take another round of thinking about Enterprise and Social Software. My last post related to that was followingEnterprise 2.0 conference in Boston in June – PLM and Enterprise 2.0: No Fight… Yet.

Few days ago, I posted about PLM, BOM, Excel – How to Make it right? Chris Williams at Vuuch made an interestingcomment that made me think again about existing PLM problems and potentials of social software for enterprise organizations.

Excel Litmus Test
I’m coming to the conclusion that enterprise software vendors can use MS Excel as a Litmus test for potential problems. Depend on the amount of MS Excels, you can make a conclusion about the quality of solutions they provide. Users are voting Excel each time enterprise software doesn’t work or too complex to be used.

Enterprise Social Software
The term ESS (Enterprise Social Software) first appearance happened during Enterprise 2.0 conference couple of years ago. Here is Wikipedia definition:

Enterprise social software (also known as or regarded as a major component of Enterprise 2.0), comprises social software as used in “enterprise” (business/commercial) contexts. It includes social and networked modifications to corporate intranets and other classic software platforms used by large companies to organize their communication. In contrast to traditional enterprise software, which imposes structure prior to use, enterprise social software tends to encourage use prior to providing structure.[citation needed] Carl Frappaolo and Dan Keldsen defined Enterprise 2.0 in a report written for Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM)as “a system of web-basedtechnologies that provide rapid and agile collaboration, information sharing, emergence and integration capabilities in the extended enterprise”.[1]

Back in 2006, Social Software was defined as one component of Enterprise 2.0.  As of 2006, “Enterprise 2.0″ had become a catchier term, sometimes used to describe social and networked changes to enterprises, which often includes social software (but may transcend social software, social collaboration and software).

Another marketing buzz was Enterprise Web 2.0. This term related to the software making intensive use of Web 2.0 technologies for creating Enterprise applications.

Enterprise Portal Renaissance?
Let me move you back ten years. Do you remember Enterprise Portals?

An enterprise portal, also known as an enterprise information portal (EIP) or corporate portal, is a framework for integrating information, people and processes across organizational boundaries. It provides a secure unified access point,[1] often in the form of a web-based user interface, and is designed to aggregate and personalize information through application-specific portlets. One hallmark of enterprise portals is the de-centralized content contribution and content management, which keeps the information always updated.

I found this definition very interesting. If you replace “organization boundaries” with “product lifecycle” you are getting almost the definition of PLM. I found an old report provided by Delphi group in Boston in 1999 about Enterprise Portals. Download it navigating to the following link. You can see below a diagram I took from this report.


I can see lots of correlations between functional categories of Enterprise Portal model 1999 and Enterprise Social Software model 2010. It looks like we may have a second wave of Enterprise Portals coming with a new name – Enterprise Social Software on top of Web 2.0 technology matured during the last ten years of Web 2.0 deployment.

What is my conclusion? Complexity is hard. In my view, Excel Litmus Test can help you to identify it easily. PLM is in the deep complexity recession. Enterprise 2.0 and Social Software can provide some fresh air. However, as it usually happens during the hype period, many companies will try to sell you old stuff with a new name. Then we will be in danger of double-dip recession. Ask about functionality and technology? Try these things out and see if you remember the same stuff with old names. The good thing about Enterprise Social Software is try to bring modern Web technologies to enterprise. The last make a lot of sense to me.

Just my thoughts…
Best, Oleg


Social PLM: More Syndication and Less Communities

July 7, 2010

I’ve been thinking more about what are the gaps in taking PLM to the next level of collaboration. Social trend started on Web 2.0 sites got explored more and growing Facebook population is just another confirmation of the fact that people are looking for new ways to communicate and work together.In the past few months I had chance to share my thoughts about how I see PLM development catching up with various social trends. Facebook is having the most strong influences on the way social aspects of PLM can be developed for the future. You can take a look on my previous posts related to this topic:

The ABC of PLM Facebooking
PLM and Facebook Open Graph
How To Facebook PLM?

Facebook and Content

In my view, content is one of the big misleading elements of Facebook’s strategies. Lots of people are thinking about Facebook as an ultimate way to generate content. However, posting content to Facebook is not creating desired effect. Facebook is predominantly about people communication and not content creation. I found a very interesting observation about what Facebook is doing in Ken Auletta’s book – Googled.

The comparison of Facebook with phone communication where all participants are on the same line made me think there is a potential to create some similarity in product development organization.

Communication and Context
When Facbook is associated with a single phone conversation, it may not be so practical to be implemented exactly in the same for the business in an organization. The biggest difference, in my view, is that fact business by definition cannot be focused on a single conversation between friends. People in the business can have multiple contexts that create need to communicate. There are many examples – projects, ECOs, design discussions and many others. When using Facebook, your context is a single ‘online conversation’ that happens all the time. To be able to provide multiple contexts can be a challenging task for PLM.

Connect vs. Syndicate
In Facebook-like communication, the connection between people created an ultimate way to syndicate information. Is it true for organizations? No, I don’t think so. Connection between people in the organization has a different meaning. The fact I want to stay connected with a person, still doesn’t mean I want to syndicate an information stream coming from him. The syndication needs to be done on the contextual level, rather than on personal. So, community will have less importance to have a successful social PLM implementation.

What is my conclusion? Facebook provides a new paradigm for information sharing. The way doing so is to syndicate on the fly multiple information streams coming from people you are staying connected. This is the ultimate way to create a single conversation and not multiple conversations. What is the value in Product Lifecycle Management? The idea of syndication is extremely powerful. The way it is catching up now with different “communities concepts” and “social product development” stories might be wrong, in my view. There is a fundamental difference between a need of people to stay connected and information sharing. To apply this difference in a successful manner will be a key question in the future of collaborative systems for product development. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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The ABC of PLM Facebooking

May 31, 2010

I was reading ‘Why does Facebook fail for Product Development? (and how to fix it)” article by Jim Brown. Jim made me think more about multiple associations between core Facebook principles and way PDM/PLM systems are organized and implemented today. Jim is saying, Facebook’s concepts are compelling, so let’s apply them to PLM. I have to agree. However, what is important is to make a right application. So, I want to try to discover what are key Facebook’s principles and how they can be applied to PLM to make a shift in PLM implementation in comparison to what we are doing today.

Life Before Facebook

Before social sites like MySpace and Facebook were born, our life was mostly concentrated around an email and instant messenger. This is the mainstream communication pathway. So, if I want to communicate with dozens of my friends, I’ll need to send/read emails. When I will be interesting to share something (i.e. picture), I will send an email with attachment or link. IM is pretty similar. It reminds me how we communicate in our workplaces now.

Facebook Experience

What is the major shift Facebook made for me in terms of my communication? As soon as I could find and connect with my friends on Facebook by importing my email contact list, my life moved from Outlook Inbox to my Facebook wall. My communication becomes much easier for situations when I want to share something with my friends. Instead of going and opening multiple emails with pictures, video links and notes, I can see them nicely syndicated on my wall. There are two main components of this shift –  connections and content syndication.

Connections

It is all about who are the people I want to stay connected. Facebook allows me to connect and figured out who are other people I’m interested to stay in connection. So, life becomes easy in terms of finding people who have similar interests to me. Comparing it to manufacturing organizations, I can compare initial contacts import as an organization hierarchy acquisition. Rest of connection can be discovered, by multiple ways- common projects, customers, task forces, specialization and knowledge. To help people to connect in a easier way is the first important Facebookconcept.

Content Syndication

In my view, Facebook made a significant shift in the way content can be organized by syndication of multiple content streams coming from different people and embedding various types of rich elements (pictures, videos, commentary, messages, reaction) into a singe syndicated content stream. The I/O (Information Overload) is a huge distraction that we experience everywhere. If we can focus on a single information stream (my Facebook wall), we can improve people’s performance. This is why you like to see Facbook Wall instead of scrolling down multiple emails and IMs. That’s why people can improve their communication in the organization by starting to use content syndication forms.

Activities

Facebook embeds people’s activities into the single syndicated content stream. This is a very important function. You should not be distracted by another “Inbox” message or multiple sources of incoming requests. Everything can be concentrated in a single place. Multiple messages on the same topic can be syndicated into threads and co-located with the content they belong to.

What is my conclusion? The core idea of Facebook is a new type of content syndication coming from my social connections. The way Facebook automatically syndicate content and allows me to make my activity related to this content is a key advantage for me to come every morning to Facebook and see what’s up with all my peers. My PLM system can do all these things today. You can manage Files, Parts, BOMs, ECOs, organize processes, make approvals, etc.. However, data organization in PLM is heavy and not comfortable. PLM is not thinking about data syndication. In my view, this is the ABC of PLM Facebooking. This what can empower PLM and make it more intuitive and easy to use. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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PLM, Social Silos and Information Streams

March 25, 2010

I had chance to read the following blog post on IT Business Edge – Oh No, Social Medial Creates Even More Information Silos. . It made me think about process interaction into enterprise organization. What I like very much, is a definition of social channels. This is a short quote from the article:

Social channels are repositories of siloed information just as often as traditional enterprise applications, if not more so. At least with enterprise applications, companies recognize the need to integrate different data streams, have been cracking away on the problem for years and have enlisted support from vendors. (Sure, sometimes the “support” seems like little more than lip service, but vendors largely do try to offer integration when and where it makes sense.) IT Business Edge’s Loraine Lawson last week wrote about the growing need for companies to consolidate information from various social channels in one place, perhaps on their Web sites.

This fits my view on how processes will be organized in the future. The biggest problem of process organization, as I see them is their absolute inability for self organization. I see process management as somewhat half successful in the systems like CRM and ERP. However, it becomes an absolute failure when it comes to the engineering space. Why, I think, it happens. The main problem is the very informal way of communication during product development, engineering and manufacturing. In the CRM and even ERP domains I can always identify “push event” that can trigger a process. Opposite to that, in engineering, the type of the communication is more in the “pull” mode. The most popular collaboration and communication tool in the engineering enterprise is the email. However, information and communication overflow is the biggest problem of process communication in the enterprise manufacturing organization.

Organization of Social Information Stream is an interesting idea. I came to that looking on how multiple social tools successfully promote information flowing between their members. Think about Twitter lists, for example. If you’ll “twit” from the side of various actors in your engineering organization, you probably will be able to organize your communication in a better way. In addition to that, PLM organization is pretty much siloed. It prevents PLM from the efficient organization of process and data management. Maybe social information streams using social websites collaborative approaches, is the way to go in the enterprise? If I’ll take this idea forward, my next step will be probably to define “twitting actors” in my product development. Subscription to these “actors” will allow me to flow in my product development information streams.

What is my conclusion today? The communication in the enterprise organization is not a simple task. Today, email is still the king of the road. The real advantage of email is that you can consolidate your information streams in the single place. However, you easily can get to the point where your single email stream is overflowed and become inefficient. Email is a typical “push” process model. I think tomorrow’s PLM will be using the “information stream” concepts to better organization communication. The content and context of these streams will be very important to make it useful… The future talks!

Best, Oleg

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