PLM, Social Enterprise Failure and Future Steps

March 18, 2012

Well… I hope got some attention with this provoking title :). Social is trending topic these days. However, let me put a very bold statement – after few years of excitement, I haven’t seen any example of "social software" success in the enterprise manufacturing company. Now, "social software" in my view is not related to social media and obvious need to screen employees Facebook and twitter accounts. There are all absolutely important actions. I’m taking about the fact "social software" or something that sometime called "Enterprise 2.0" software doesn’t make any significant change in the way enterprise software works in manufacturing companies. In other words, no signs of mainstream usage.

Enterprise 2.0 Failure?

Last year, I was reading Laurie Buczek’s article The Big Failure of Enterprise 2.0 Social Business. Take a look, in my view, there are some very rational points there. I found the following passage interesting:

The big failure of social business is a lack of integration of social tools into the collaborative workflow. This is not a newly identified problem. Those of us working on social collaboration efforts for a while recognized that integration is imperative from the beginning. At the beginning, I clearly outlined integration as one of three foundational pillars for our strategy. Unfortunately, various forces created challenges in this space. Social collaboration applications have been immature in this area for years (even after fierce calls for faster integration- i.e. CMS). Enterprises faced fork lift integration efforts to knit applications together. Fork lift efforts get the budget axe when push comes to shove. We managed to do the normal IT deployment model – the very model I fiercely advocated for us not to do. We deployed just another tool amongst a minefield of other collaborative tools – without integration. To make it even harder, we underinvested in transition change management.

The lack of integration is critical. Social software just created another silo in enterprise. This simple conclusion is important to understand, in my view.

Social is just another feature

It is interesting to see how PLM and other vendors threat social. If you are in the enterprise business, you are probably familiar with this strategy – "our software supports social features". You can find evidence of such a strategy in many places. Maybe the best example of social integration is a feature can be found in AutoCAD – it is just a command. Navigate to WorldCAD Access blog to read the article – Social media becomes commands in AutoCAD 2013.

I recommend you to listen to Facebook Investor Roger McNamee Explains Why Social Is Over. Navigate to the followinglink to read the article and watch video. Here is an interesting quote from the summary:

Don’t try to be "social": the big social platforms are created. You can’t create a social company, it’s just a checkbox. "The last 500 social companies funded by the VC community are all worthless. I’m serious."

Integration and User Experience are the key

There are two important things that, in my view, can make a difference in the future of social software. Integration and user experience. Social web created a completely different level of expectation for software. It is a different user experience. To have it successfully replicated and integrated into mission critical business processes can make a difference. One of interesting examples I’ve seen recently is the announcement of Yammer integration into SAP Software.

Yammer, software for creating social networks inside businesses, just released a new feature that connects Yammer with the central component of SAP’s enterprise resource planning software. That means SAP customers can have on their computer screens a network ticker, like the updating sidebar on a Facebook page. Instead of the latest news about friends, this sidebar delivers updates whenever something relevant to people’s jobs happens inside their SAP systems.

Another interesting example came from Nuage -new company announced very recently on a horizon of PLM. It is still very little can be found on their website. One of the resources Nuage shared is a whitepaper by Jim Brown of Tech-Clarity. Read more about this on Jim’s blog – Social Business – What if Facebook Didn’t Fail for Product Development? The important quote from Jim’s whitepaper is the following one:

The greatest benefit will come from combining the collaborative power of social computing with the control provided by PLM. As Going Social with Product Development explains, “While social networking by itself can provide value, companies that develop a strategy to leverage the concepts behind social computing in a product development business context will likely gain greater advantages in product profitability than others.”

What is my conclusion? I think, companies made first initial baby-steps in social enterprise over the past few years. Few important lessons: 1/magic word "social" does solve the problem; 2/user experience is very important; 3/integrate into mainstream business flow and solve significant business pain is a key. I would like to quote one of my friends saying that this is what differentiate between "pain-killer" and "vitamin" software. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

picture courtesy of w3c social web report.

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

PLM and Enterprise 2.0: No Fight… Yet.

June 16, 2010

Yesterday, I spent my day on Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston. It wasn’t overcrowded, although Expo pass registration that included Keynote presentation was almost free. It was also very interesting to see a landscape of vendors participating in the event. All enterprise kings were well represented- IBM, Microsoft, SAP. The only one king was out of the room – Oracle. It was surprising not to see Oracle, specially after their massive representation Oracle had in 2008. From the new players, I’d mention Cisco with their announcement about their social enterprise collaboration platform – Cisco Quad.

Lately, walking in the exhibition hall, I thought about all social collaboration platforms presented there and what is the potential impact of these platforms on Product Lifecycle Management.

Enterprise 2.0 Redefines Collaboration
Let me start from the history. What is the top collaborative tool we  have today? Email. Yes, email continue to be the most useful and widely adopted tools to collaborate. It is platform independent, it is reliable, it is free, it is asynchronous and, what is also very important, it is accepted by the majority of people. This is de-facto communication standard. Why we need to change it? I think the efficiency of the email collaboration is going down. Started from IM, and going down to forums and social networks, we can see a new way to share data and communicate. If you are newbie in so called E 2.0 space, you can take a fast ride and read a book by Andrew McAffee – “Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools…” Started in the beginning as set of different tools – wiki, blog, instant messaging, communities, etc. the Enterprise 2.0 absorbed all these tools and introduced the new way to communicate for people. We are adopting new practices outside of the organization boundaries, and they are coming inside of the organizational space. All together new tools allow to work much more efficiently in comparison to what we did before.

PLM Options In Enterprise 2.0
One of the strongest points of PDM and lately PLM was to provide set of tools to establish an efficient environment to collaborate in the engineering and manufacturing organization. It started as an ability to organize data in folders and databases, establish flow of documents, driving approvals and decisions. It was all about efficiency in communication and data sharing. What was the uniqueness of PDM/PLM that not allowed just to use plain set of collaborative tools? The engineering (CAD, PDM, PLM) context is the primary reason why the usage of mainstream collaborative tools were limited until now. To share Bill of Material or CAD model is not as simple as Word document. It requires better synchronization and more sophisticated level of data dependency management. As a result, it created higher level of complexity in everything – implementation, user interface, customization. At the same time, people are continuously inspired by the capabilities of mainstream internet and other collaboration tools. The initial steps were taken already. We had chance to see PTC’s and Dassault’s investments into community-oriented tools.

In addition to what established vendors are doing, I can see the potential for new companies like Vuuch entering this space too.

As I wrote in one of my previous blog post about the future of PLM collaboration  – 2010s are going to put Enterprise IT on fire.  PLM has two options today: (1) to develop vertical tools to support a new way to communicate and collaborate; (2) to adopt new Enterprise 2.0 platforms and tools and integrate PLM context into these platforms.

What is my conclusion? Enterprise 2.0 is overcrowded with different tools, platforms and initiatives. The initial cost of the solution development in this space is relatively low. Big vendors and small startups are trying the “enterprise 2.0 water” by introducing different solutions and checking people’s and organization’s reactions. I can see apathy on the other side. Too many dishes… People are looking for differentiations. It seems to me the fight is going between “vendor trust” and “cool and usable product”. Most of the vendors are not thinking about how to make their products vertical. Their efforts are focused on how “to own” organizations. Coming down to manufacturing organizations they can find that “one size doesn’t fit all” and special tools or collaboration practices are needed to work with engineering and manufacturing context. This is going to be a big day for vendors in PLM space. The question how they will come prepared to this day. This is also an opportunity for small companies to propose special solutions that redefine a way to collaborate for engineering and manufacturing organizations. Who is up to this opportunity?

Just my thoughts…
Best, Oleg


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’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

Enterprise 2.0 Adoption and Social PLM

November 27, 2009

I had chance to read about adoption of Enterprise 2.0. You can take a look on RearWriteEnterprise blog post here. To see high-tech, manufacturing, aerospace and defense on the leading places was a very interesting and positive surprise.

I put it in the context together with DS Social Innovation, PTC Social Product Development and newcomers like Vuuch Business Communities . I think, Web 2.0 and coming together Enterprise 2.0 is getting stronger. In parallel, I see growing interest of enterprises to organize their system differently. Less interest in big and expensive programs and more interest in lean enterprise 2.0 initiatives. This is a main trend, that will define how PLM 2.0 will look like in 2010-12 years.

This is just my opinion. What do you think? Do you have any plan for Enterprise 2.0 tools adoption?

Best, Oleg

Enterprise 2.0 Checklist for PLM

July 1, 2009

I want to discuss Enterprise 2.0. This term started to be popular during the last two-three years and stands for technologies and best practices around so called “social software”,  according to the main mature components such as wiki and blogs. In my view, although the functional definition of Enterprise 2.0 is still very fuzzy, the need for Enterprise 2.0 type of software is emerging and growing fast. Lately, we’ver heard many messages from Product Lifecycle Management software providers about the importance of social software for PLM. I’m sure you had a chance to see “Social Innovation” or “Social Product Development” initiatives presented by leading PLM vendors during this year.

So, with such an introduction,  I wanted to start a discussion about Enterprise 2.0 and PLM paths. Are these co-directed? Can Product Lifecycle Management leverage Enterprise 2.0 or vice versa?

I also had a chance to read Wikipedia’s definition of <Enterprise 2.0> and also was reading The State of Enterprise 2.0 by Dion Hinchcliff. I wanted to start with a checklist of what exists in Enterprise 2.0 and compare it with how we perceive Product Lifecycle Management within this definition.

In the very early view and definition of Enterprise 2.0 according to Andrew McAfee, Associate Professor, Harvard Business School, Enterprise 2.0 elements are defined as a SLATES model. So, let’s take a look at every element of this definition. Actually, I found it very interesting from the practical standpoint of Product Lifecycle Management.

Search – I think that the definition of search in the enterprise lacks maturity at the present. Enterprise Search vendors are focusing on document search and information discovery in the Enterprise. At the same time, <Search> has become a very important function in everyday life and many of our daily activities has changed as a result of the “search revolution”. Product Lifecycle Management is doing a lot of things that require an improved way of managing data about products ─ being able to find this data is one of the most important functions.

Links – URI and URL are two fundamental things allowing connections of information in a Web-enabled enterprise. PLM manages a lot of “connected” things such as product definitions, relevant documents etc. PLM can reuse a lot from models that have already been developed and will be developed in the future for Enterprise 2.0.

Authorship – Enterprise 2.0 has changed the way people perceive their roles with regards to creating and using information. In PLM, the function of creating (or designing) was belonging many years to Development/R&D/Engineering. These days Enterprise 2.0 is changing it and introduces new way to involve people to create product and services. This is will be very important for the future.

Tags – This is something that is very usable and provides an open and simple for people. For years, PLM has been classifying things mostly in a taxonomical way. I had a chance to write about tagging before and I think that the role of Tags in the future model of PLM will be increased.

Extensions – I see extensions as a natural way to grow. I think that the application of extension methods can allow us to gain a better understanding of product development and the customer environment. We can find a way to reuse these patterns to develop new products and services.

Signals – I think people need to be able to interact ─ within Product Development, in the Supply Chain, in the customer’s ecosystem. Adoption of “signals” can provide PLM with the ability to interact in a new way.

So, time will tell how the Enterprise 2.0 model will be developed in the near future, and how new software products will be developed and even change this model. It’s clear that many of Enterprise 2.0 characteristics were created as result of a major dissatisfaction with the current state of enterprise software.  Enterprise 2.0 needed a change that would adopt new methods of working and have an impact on the environment.

I’m very interested to know your opinion and views on this topic and am looking forward to discussing this in my next posts.


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