What I learned this week … came from a presentation given by Jim Heppelmann and Brian Shepherd of PTC and this week’s PTCUser conference. The presentation gave a view into some of the interesting things that PTC is working on in their solution set, and a peek into their vision for the future of PLM systems. More accurately, what Jim and Brian said the future for their Product Development System as opposed to “PLM,” which is an important differentiation for them.
User conferences are a great place to let software customers know about all of the great new solutions they should be considering. This conference is no different, PTC has been busy and they have a lot to show off. Of particular interest to me was getting an update on their views on the use of social computing techniques in PLM. I have posted before on PTC’s social product development strategy, and I was looking forward to the update. The most interesting part of the conversation wasn’t directly about social computing, but about how these “community” applications fit in with the rest of PLM…err, I mean PDS.
Enter the “Triad”
I will not do this justice here, so I will introduce it quickly and we can drive some conversation around it in the comments. The core message is that there have been two primary sets of applications for product development and engineering, and now there is a third category. The concept is PTC’s, but I am putting it in my own words below. The three legs of the stool, then, are:
User – This are the individual productivity tools. This is what makes the engineer more efficient in their work. These tools include CAD, CAE, and others. They are the “Microsoft Excel” types of tools, those that help one person at a time do their job.
Corporate – The are enterprise applications. These solutions provide control and coordination across a business. They are typically more complicated, and sometimes require a trade-off between personal productivity and corporate value (such as capturing and managing IP). Many times, users feel these solutions are an extra part of their job as opposed to an enabler, and that they have to “feed the system.”
Community – These are social computing applications. These help companies collaborate and share information in a lighter weight, looser environment. This is the new area of solutions that promise to drive better team performance.
I have some additional thoughts and questions, but I will hold them for now. The one piece I will share is that these areas are not entirely distinct, and that they get more value when they are together. The value gained from one does not exclude potential value from the others. A quick example is that by logging the collaborative comments in the “community” applications, you are creating new corporate knowledge and IP – but without feeling like you are “feeding the system.” So maybe in the long run the “community” category helps provide some of the control but with a lower level of effort from the user? OK, enough on that from me right now.
Implications for Manufacturers?
In the short-term, this is a new way to look at social computing applications and how they fit with your individual productivity tools and your enterprise applications. It is a way to think about how to complement your current solutions with new capabilities. It is also a good metric to use when evaluating the vision of your PLM solution provider. Are they looking out for all three legs of your triad? They should be.
So that is what I learned this week, I hope you found it interesting. Let me know what you think.