Monday, January 7, 2013

Why Has Social PLM Failed?

"I hate Facebook", he said, with fire in his eyes. "Twitter is a total waste of time, if you ask me. I can see no reason for it to exist!" I was instantly sorry I had asked his opinion. I was also surprised that someone in their mid 40's would have such strong negative opinions about social media. It was especially surprising, since this was a person that had embraced smart phones, tablets, PCs, email, and other technology for many years.

The man in question was an engineer who was looked to as a forward-thinking leader in his company. He was a key player in an engineering organization and in charge of introducing PLM to his company. He was also in charge of the entire PLM implementation project. The executives in this company would listen to him on PLM related technology issues. Any chance of  getting social PLM tools into this company was quickly erased from my mind. This conversation got me to thinking about social PLM and why it seemed to limp along in 2012.

Why has social PLM failed to make a big impact in most companies this year? I, along with others, thought this would be the year when social PLM would make a big push into most businesses. I also read a recent article by Oleg Shilovitsky about his take on this topic. Read the full article here.

I have come to the conclusion that Social PLM has failed because most people in the engineering and manufacturing parts of businesses (mostly the people that champion PLM) do not use social media. They have not seen benefits in their own personal lives, and that is why they struggle to see how it can help in their businesses. It reminds me of the early days of the PC: people started to buy personal computers for their own use, and then wondered why they couldn't have the same exceptional connectivity and personalization in their jobs?

I think social PLM will have to follow the same path. However, for that to happen, we need company PLM champions using social media in their personal lives. This has not happened yet. In fact, most of the PLM classes I teach tell me that very few engineers use or care much about social media tools. When I introduce the topic I get a lot of wide-eyed stares and snoring. Those who attend my classes think social media tools are fun toys for their teenagers, but have no use in a "real" business.

I am sure that this will change over time. Sadly, I am old enough to remember when people called Computer Aided Design (CAD) a toy, and when people called 3D modeling impractical, and when people called email a fad; of course, none of these turned out to be true. I just hope I can live long enough to see social PLM have its' due.

What does your company think about social media? What do the leaders of your business organizations think about social tools? Do they have Facebook accounts? Do they have twitter accounts? Do they see any benefits from social media? If not, it will be hard for any of them to see the benefits of Social PLM.

What do you think?


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