How to place PLM in a Social Network? Kill M…

August 25, 2011

I can hear more and more conversations about social aspects of the future enterprise software. Social is trending. Will it be successful? I think many people are trying to find an answer on this question. Is it possible to apply the word “social” to everything that requires improvement and converts it to gold? We can see new social trends are coming on the market as “social CRM”, “social PLM”, “social ERP”…

I’ve been reading Dion Hinchcliffe’s Next Gen Enterprise blog early this month – Why The Next App You Use Might Be In A Social Network. Dion is talking about the convergence between the social networks and enterprise business applications. I found the following quote enormously important:

While social networks are still just getting their sea legs in most organizations, the next big leap forward — in addition to social analytics — is likely to be the integration of our productivity and line of business apps into our activity streams. Will this unleash a significant new value? Very probably. But it’s also possibly the big integration opportunity that businesses have long looked for.

Take a look on the following picture Dion brings to show the concept of social applications and activity streams.

The important element of this strategy is the so-called “social application wrapper”. Dion is talking about extension to Open Social. Follow this link to learn more about Open Social. What does it mean from the standpoint of infrastructure building? Social becomes a platform? Together with standardization and connection to existing software platforms/products from IBM and other vendors it sounds like a future social middleware for enterprises.

PLM – product data management first!

The ideas explained by Dion made me think about transformation PLM software needs to make in order to fit this model. Until now, the fundamental elements of every PLM deployment were coming from CAD /Design software and Product Data Management software. Look on every successful PLM implementation – you will find these elements there. PDM as a platform for PLM expansion assumed “management” of important product data assets (document records, bill of materials, etc.). To be very blunt, every PLM system was present first as a data container and only after that organizations were planning future expansion in different business areas associated with product development and manufacturing.

Kill the “M”?

Now, the question I’m askig is how to put PLM in a social container? In my view, the recipe can be simple – Kill the “M”. Apps placed into the “social application wrapper” will be disconnected from product data management roots and operate in a loosely coupled way. It will allow to them to delivery a granular functional approach and, at the same time, allows collaboration via social wrappers.

What is my conclusion? If I’m taking “social application wrappers” seriously, future PLM implementations will look differently from what we have today. Social Platform (container) will establish a ubiquitous communication between people and will push Apps that will be capable to serve engineers and other people in the product design, engineering and manufacturing. Sounds like utopia? Maybe. My hunch – the next confrontation in the enterprise will be not between two enterprise platforms, but between social platform (social application wrapper) and enterprise data management platforms. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

PLM and Almost Enterprise Apps?

April 29, 2011

The cost of development enterprise apps was one of the topics discussed among the people on Aras ACE 2011 conference earlier this week in Detroit, MI. Where the future is taking us? The development and customization of full blown PLM suite can be long, expensive and not very cost-effective these days. During the Beyond PLM panel discussion, I raised the question about the future of agile business apps that can provide value and won’t take manufacturing companies to the hell of product suites. The approach I discussed was introduced by Dion Hinchcliffe in hisNext Gen Enterprise blog.

On my way back to Boston I read Deloitte’s report “Technology Trends 2011. The Natural Convergence of Business and IT". Download this report, read and make your opinion. On of the topics of the report is about so called "Almost enterprise Applications". The idea resonated with my thoughts about how manufacturing organization can develop applications to be used by design engineers, managers, manufacturing planners, quality planners without taking organization into the two-year cycle of PLM suite deployment. I found the following example of "almost enterprise app" interesting:

A chemical products manufacturer had been an early adopter of Google Enterprise Apps engine – focusing on building almost-enterprise applications anchored in the productivity and collaboration suites. One example was a series of Gmail plug-ins that read the subject of emails and automatically retrieve CRM and HR workfl ow documents from SAP, with embedded controls for taking action that, in turn, execute back-offi ce transactions. Another was the ability to automatically update call notes in their CRM system with chat or voice transcripts, removing what was historically 90 seconds of low-value activity at the end of each customer service call.

PLM: Platforms and Applications

The notion of a platform in product lifycle management becomes interesting, in my view. The context of business apps can provide a new angle in a company strategy to develop a platform to serve the needs of product development processes. The focus on the platform will be in product data management rather than in business processes. Information services provided by a platform can be used to develop apps (Almost Enterprise Apps) highly focused on a particular engineers and other user’s needs.

What is my conclusion? The idea of "amost enterprise apps" is fascinating. It is easy to follow the concept of development apps based on any available services in the company. In the past, it led companies to the "excel hell". However, combination of a platform provided information services and agile practices of small apps development have in chance to develop an efficient solution. What is your opinion about that?

Best, Oleg


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