PLM Prompt: Google Apps Cloud Collaboration via Microsoft Outlook

June 11, 2009

Short prompt on seamless integration between Google Apps and Microsoft Outlook. We all know, email is one of the strongest collaboration tools available today in organization and people are using Outlook frontend as main application on desktop.

Many enterprise tools (including PLM/PDM) are connected to Outllook to deliver notification, request approval, collaborate on tasks. To have Outlook connected to Google Apps on cloud opens new set collaborative options.

What do you think? 

PLM Collaboration – To Catch Wave vs. To Share List

June 2, 2009

I think that I’m not exaggerating by saying that every conversation about “collaboration” last week started from  the Google Wave announcement on the Google I/O conference last week. I’ve seen many initial feedbacks in CAD/PDM/PLM related communities and spoke to many colleagues. I think that the majority of people were excited by being able to introduce a new way of collaboration and the potential impact Google Wave can make on Product Lifecycle Management. I’d like to point to a few comments from non-PLM communities. One was made by Dion Hinchcliffe about enterprise implication of Google Wave. Another one came from Stephen Arnold “A Surprising Ripple for Wave in the SharePoint Ocean”. I’d recommend you read both.

 I’d like to take a look at how to improve PLM collaboration by comparing two approaches I found very fundamental and different. One came from the success of Microsoft SharePoint and the second from the initial presentation of Google Wave. Although I understand that it’s hard to compare something that exists and is successful with something that is new, fresh from an announcement, I’ll try anyway.

 SharePoint Collaboration

Here’s my short summary of how I see the SharePoint-based collaboration without going into much detail. The core of SharePoint collaboration is a List and Folders mechanism that can be used by people working on specific documents, activities, groups and organizations. Where <List> is something that is mostly oriented on tabular data (think about a shared Excel file), <Folder> is something more oriented towards working with various documents. You can go beyond the basic list and folders by organizing them into <Workspaces>, <Sites> and <Site collections>. So far, this very successful collaboration model, in my opinion, allows people to share data and files and work together. The most important addition is the very seamless connection to the Exchange Server that allows you to associate lists and folders with email accounts and get inbound and outbound messages directly into folders. So, you want to collaborate? Define what you want to collaborate on, setup workspaces and folders, and share information and/or collaborate with the people you need. Seamless integration with Office products makes conversations between Excel and List/Folders in SharePoint easy.

SharePoint Document Library 

SharePoint Lists

Google Wave Collaboration

As I understand from the many announcements, information, video and other materials (I haven’t had a chance to try out Google Wave myself), the fundamental collaboration model of Google Wave is a definition of Wave. The core definition in Google Wave collaboration is a threaded conversation <Wave> and a set of <Wavelets>. These <Wavelets> are combined with something called <Blips>. The interesting part starts when Blip can actually reuse any type of available web resource – Mail, Wiki, Pictures, Blogs etc. There are two ways to enhance this model by providing Gadgets and Robots. Gadget enhances client appearance for a wavelet (i.e. connects to Facebook or other collaboration sites) and Robot can support potential functionality on a server (i.e. online translation).

Introduction Google Wave

Below is a summary of my preliminary thoughts on how these two models can evolve.

  1. The strong point of SharePoint model is that it starts from content (list, folder, excel etc.) This model is strong in enterprise in general, but also has Product Lifecycle Management roots. Your Bill of Materials, List of Documents etc. are in the general list of information. Also, Office/Excel/Email integration adds a lot of additional benefits to this model.
  2. The SharePoint list model tries to resolve the email mess when you are trying to find multiple threads of communication. But this model still cannot provide, in my view, a good solution for that, since even if you route all messages to the list according to your rules, you still end-up with lists you need to track – so this is still similar to a mailbox.
  3. The Wave model has many strong points by allowing you to connect dots in a threaded conversation and communication. So, you can follow each topic about which you are collaborating and then you’re always up-to-speed about what’s going on.
  4. On the content side, I see that the Google Wave model is still weak and does not present capabilities to be connected to the popular data views in the enterprise.

My conclusion for now is that it will be very interesting to see how both models will evolve separately and cross-influence. I see a great potential in both models and see an opportunity to mix them as well. I’m looking forward to hear your comments and thoughts on this.

PLM Prompt: PLM Collaboration Waves?

May 30, 2009

Analyzing waves comes out of Google Wave presentation. I can see multiple responses and perspectives on potentail use of Google Wave for enterprise. Do you think Wave is future of PLM collaboration? 

plm enterprise waves

PLM Prompt: Contextual Collaboration with Microsoft Vine

May 29, 2009

I’ve been playing with Microsoft Vine Beta last few days. For me this is sort of contextual collaboration. You can put notifications and alerts. You can use groups and places as context. Very similar to 3DLive collaboratoin in my view, but with map. 

Oleg Collaboration with Microsoft Vine

PLM Prompt: Google Wave is ringing bell for PLM collaboration

May 29, 2009

Watch this presentation. Do you see it as future PLM collaboration paradigm? Stay tuned for my future posts about how to use it for PLM. 

PLM Prompt: Breaking down the language barrier in collaboration

May 20, 2009

I think language is one of the barriers for successful collaboration. Therefore, I’m really excited about a new feature in Gmail that will help to break down the language barrier – Automatic message translation between 41 languages. I think such feature can be really cool for global PLM deployment. Does it make sense for you? 

translation comics


Four directions for successful PLM collaboration

May 11, 2009

Collaboration is a magic word that we use a lot in Product Lifecycle Management. I’d say we also use the word “collaboration” even if we’re just talking about Product Development, Engineering, Simulation, Manufacturing etc.

Collaboration is a recursive process where two or more people or organizations work together on common goals — for example, an intellectual endeavor[1] [2] that is creative in nature[3]—by sharing knowledge, learning and building consensus. Collaboration does not require leadership and can sometimes bring better results through decentralization and egalitarianism

Collaborative software is software designed to help people involved in a common task achieve their goals. Collaborative software is the basis for computer supported cooperative work. “It is not a question of how well each process works; the question is how well they all work together.” – Lloyd Dobyns and Clare Crawford-Mason, Think about quality. Such software systems as email, calendaring, text chat, wiki, and bookmarking belong to this category. It has been suggested that Metcalfe’s law — the more people who use something, the more valuable it becomes — applies to such software

So, with such a broad definition, I’d like to discuss more deeply what collaboration means for Product Development and Product Lifecycle Management; as well as share a few ideas with you about how PLM collaboration needs to be developed in the near future.

1. Collaboration Networks. This is what we know today as “Social Networks”. Social Networks is a rapidly growing segment of the consumer sector. Such products as Twitter, Facebook and others use people’s natural tendency to build relationships. Such relationship building processes allows people to realize their need to communicate, share ideas and information. How do you translate this into a business and enterprise organization? Today everything is siloed and people have low to no ability to communicate with relevant people in an organization. I believe that we need to find an easy way to build these relationships and build such “collaboration networks” in an easy and flexible manner. People need to share their work, experience, information. They have to have the ability to find relevant people and organize communication.

2. Multiple Rich User Experience and Mobile Devices. I think that the User Experience will play a major role in PLM collaboration software. In my view, topic such as Web, non-Web, on demand etc. will disappear and people will only be focused on what user experience is and how to get access to services. I expect that people will experience many ways of achieving their collaborative goals- going with the Web, installing additional applications to get their preferred user experience, touch interfaces, game-like controllers, going mobile etc. So, my propose direction here is to find explicit user experience for specific groups of people dependent on their role, tasks and personal preference. In addition, I think that Mobile device strategy will play a special role in the future of PLM collaboration. New mobile devices let people change their working habits and be more flexible in the way they organize their common tasks.

3. Operational Usage. I think that this one is very important to connect our traditional PLM approach focused on design and engineering with the overall corporate and supply chain operation. I think that when you discuss what’s more important– Innovation or Operation, for the consensus these days is that “we need both”. The way that I see making this possible is to have the ability to organize cross-functional collaboration networks between people belonging to different siloes in the organization. This operation transparency will allow PLM to step into the operational field and expose more product knowledge and information to support operational decisions. 

4. Information and Connectivity. Last but very not least.  In the current world, according to some of the research I’ve read lately, we double information in organization every 18 months. I think that PLM collaboration needs to face the situation that multiple information pieces are distributed by multiple channels in an organization. Being able to keep track and connect and integrate related information is top priority for many of enterprise projects. In PLM context is becoming a top priority and PLM collaboration needs to provide a way to share this information ubiquitously.


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