Thursday, August 30, 2012

Social Media: "The Reports of my Death are Greatly Exaggerated!"

Lately I have been reading a lot of blogs/articles/stories about the demise of social media, and how it's unnecessary in many places, especially PLM. Of course, I do not agree. Articles such as, "Facebook, Twitter? Can The Decline of Social Media Come Fast Enough?" or this one: "Does Social Media Belong in CAD Applications?" continue to appear. I am sure we will see these types of stories every week; they shock people and get them to take notice. Here's the same type of story from 2009: The Death of Social Media. 

One thing that bothers me about these stories is that many of the people who write them are not really users of social media. Some of them dabble, or have stepped away, or they don't even use it at all. Then, from afar, they believe they can predict how it can and should be used, if at all. I doubt any of them ever had Klout scores over 30, or that they even know what a Klout score is.

Before predicting that social media is bad, or useless, or dead, you should use it. I have noticed that many of the problems that were mentioned in 2009 are much less troublesome today, and more and more people are seeing the benefits of social media when combined with PLM.

PLM vendors are starting to provide integrated social tools that allow users to integrate their tasks with the larger enterprise. There is great benefit when Engineering projects can be shared with other parts of the business, such as service, manufacturing, procurement, shop floor, etc; this is what Collaborative Engineering was all about, many years ago. Today we can actually collaborate in a controlled way that provides great value to the business by using Social Media principles and tools.

I am looking forward to all of the great technology that will be developed around PLM, and especially those that make use of social media.

What do you think?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

What the Mars Rover Landing Can Teach us About PLM

Like many others, I watched with awe and amazement as the Mars rover, named Curiosity, landed safely on the planet Mars. When I watched the computer generated animation of how they would be lowering this large vehicle onto the surface of the Red Planet, I thought to myself "that will never work". But, it seems to have worked just fine. I am proud of what has been accomplished by the team that made this happen.

What is so startling to me about the whole thing is that they ran into very few problems on this very intricate landing. To quote the New York Times:

"The landing ran into fewer problems than any of the hundreds of simulations they had run over the last two years.
"It was cleaner than any of our tests," said Al Chen, a JPL engineer and member of the mission's landing team, shaking his head with amazement. "It was a blast."
The landing was suppose to be very tricky, and filled with challenges. This is how it was described in one blog just hours before the actual landing:
"Following “seven minutes of terror” beginning at 1:31 a.m. EST early Monday morning -- a reference to the nerve-racking landing NASA has planned, which involves Curiosity’s screaming race to the surface and a dangle off a rocket-powered sky crane..."
You can see a video of the landing here. I am amazed every time I watch this video. But, the landing went off without a hitch. I didn't understand all the jumping around by those brainiacs at JPL, but now I do: they were so happy to have pulled off a very challenging feat of space-landing magic; so many things could have gone wrong, but they didn't.
Do you ever look at your PLM implementation activities, and classify them as "seven minutes of terror"? For some, the selection and roll-out of PLM solutions can cause even the strongest person to shrink from the task. One of the important things the we can learn from the Mars rover is the importance of testing BEFORE we roll out our PLM solutions.
That is why CIMdata always recommends a pilot project environment to test your PLM solutions BEFORE they are ever rolled out to the masses. This allows you to install software, test integrations, perform and test data migration, do user acceptance testing, and a host of other activities. Installing software for the first time on Friday, and rolling it out to the users on Monday NEVER works.
The Mars rover didn't land on Mars by accident. It took years of trial, testing, and "hundreds of simulations" to make sure it would be successful on this very important and complex endeavor. Should you take any less care with your roll-out of PLM solutions?
What do you think? Do your PLM implementations get the up-front attention they deserve?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

How Will Collaboration Look in the Future?

If you're like me, you expected flying cars, personal jet-packs, and robot butlers by the year 2012; where are they? Like many predictions of the future, these did not come to pass. I will just keep waiting, and waiting, and waiting.

I read an interesting article recently titled: "Were they right? 25 years ago, science thinkers predicted the world in 2012". The answer to the question, "were they right", is no. They were not right. Most of their predictions were wrong, and were based on the world having about 1 Billion more people than it does today. However, it was interesting to see what people thought would happen in the future.

Another article that I read recently talked about collaboration, and looked at the many technologies that will impact our interactions in the future. This article was called: "The Changing Face of Collaboration - A CIMdata Commentary". Those guys at CIMdata really know their stuff! I should know, I'm one of them.

No matter how cynical you are about what the future holds, you cannot ignore some of the powerful changes that are impacting the way we collaborate. Social and mobile tools are generating tons of valuable information; this value can only be realized with strong data collaboration tools. Companies are being forced to address these issues by social-savvy consumers wielding smart phones, tablets, and other collaboration devices. In the future, companies that rely on PLM to develop products for these consumers will be required to interact in different ways than the standard email tools employed today.

How this will be done in the future is still an open question, but there are many companies working on this today. Nuage is one of those companies, and their approach to collaboration will have an impact on how we interact in the future. I liked the following passage:

"Some companies, such as Nuage (, are offering social computing solutions as their product. This trend is a clear indication of what is to come. As the demand for more natural ways of finding, communicating, and collaborating on product data continues to increase, today’s PLM solution providers need to continue to adjust or they will not be part of the solution, but rather an example of other legacy systems–systems that today’s social media-savvy workers will bypass."

The trend is clear. If you want your business to be around in the future to enjoy flying cars, personal jet-packs, and robot butlers, you must learn how to adopt these new collaboration tools. No one knows exactly what it will be like in the next 25 years, but those who fail to adopt these new technologies will likely be no more than a smudged footnote.

What do you think. Do you have any good predictions for the next 25 years?

Let me know what you think.