Social Business Collaboration and the Product Lifecycle

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Issue in Focus: Social Business Collaboration and the Product Lifecycle: Combining the Collaborative Power of Social Media with PLM explores the possibility that companies could adopt a social business collaboration platform to improve product development processes and add proven PLM capabilities as needed to establish a socially capable PLM system.

Tech-Clarity believes that social product innovation is inevitable due to the inherent social nature of product development and the enhanced collaborative capabilities that social computing offers. But the assumption was that PLM solutions would adopt social computing concepts because it was too much to reinvent the PLM wheel in social media. But what if that prediction was wrong? Perhaps there is another path – one that brings PLM capabilities to social software. This report explores the possibility that companies could adopt a social business collaboration platform to improve product lifecycle management (PLM) processes and add proven PLM capabilities as needed.

Please enjoy the free Executive Summary below, or click the report title above to download the full PDF (free of charge, no registration required).

 Table of Contents

  • Introducing the Issue
  • Why Social Business Collaboration Makes Sense
  • Why Social Business Makes Sense for Product Development
  • What will Socially Capable PLM Look Like?
  • How Do We Get There?
  • Social Software Goes PLM
  • Conclusion
  • Recommendations
  • About the Author

Introducing the Issue
Succeeding in business requires a group effort. Today, social computing techniques such as microblogging, wikis, and blogs are poised to help companies take a significant leap forward in their ability to collaborate and work together. Clearly social media such as Facebook and YouTube are exploding in our personal lives. Similarly, social computing approaches are making significant progress expanding and evolving to become highly valuable business tools – supporting social business collaboration.

How can businesses apply this new dimension of communication and collaboration to drive profitability? One clear area of opportunity is product innovation. Business and product innovation is a team sport, demanding input and feedback from countless people from multiple disciplines and across company boundaries. As Tech-Clarity Insight: Going Social with Product Development concludes: “Social computing and ‘Web 2.0’ technologies show significant promise to raise the bar on product innovation, product development, and engineering performance.” It is a compelling area because improving innovation performance leads to significant business value. The use of social business technologies in product development, as with any significant change, has both detractors and supporters. For example, a Boeing participant at the Congress for the Future of Engineering Software (COFES) said emphatically, “We will not design an airplane on Facebook!” That statement led to a rousing debate and a Clarity on PLM blog post Why Does Facebook Fail for Product Development (and how to fix it). The main conclusion of the discussions was that the social computing concepts behind sites like Facebook are valid for product development, but the implementation of them is not.

Tech-Clarity suggested that Facebook would fail for product development because of:

  • Lack of understanding and integration with product data
  • Insufficient security and intellectual property (IP) protection
  • Minimal support for managing business processes
  • Lack of domain expertise
  • Disconnection from the underlying context – the product

Let’s face it, Facebook has significant shortcomings that would need to be filled to support Product Lifecycle Management (PLM). Facebook was simply not designed to address product development. The same is true for other social media services including Twitter, LinkedIn, Dropbox, and a host of others. These tools are easy to use and provide significant value, but they were just not developed for the rigors of the enterprise. But what if that changed? What if someone took the initiative to develop a robust, business capable social computing platform and add proven PLM techniques to it?

Tech-Clarity believes that social product innovation is inevitable. But the assumption was that PLM solutions would get a new face because it was too much to reinvent the PLM
wheel. But what if that prediction was wrong? Perhaps there is another path – one that brings PLM capabilities to social software. It makes you think, how will today’s leading
companies transition to social product development?