Friday, April 12, 2013

Email: "I'm Not Dead Yet!" PLM: "But, you're not well!"

I recently read an article about the demise of email. The article was titled: "The death of email: time for leaders to get social". In this article, they referenced a report titled: Social media and employee voice: the current landscape from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). The report made the following point:

"Employers are urged to recognize that social media drives collaboration and transparency, and those who do not embrace it will find themselves at a disadvantage."

I am seeing this more and more in various places on the internet. It is also true for PLM. There is no better platform for sharing and collaborating than the ones that are used to support social media. A Facebook style of interface provides an easy way for engineers and others to collaborate and share information during the product life-cycle.

Another interesting snipet from the report:

"Findings revealed that senior leaders are often unable to grasp how social media works and the power of the data it can generate."

I have found this to be true myself. When I educate people about how PLM can improve their business, I often mention social media. Most company executives scoff at social media as just a toy, or a large time-waster. When I ask them if they use any of the social tools, they say things like: "Well, I tried Twitter once, but I just don't get it." or "My kids use Facebook, but I don't really have time for that." The implication is that it is a toy for small children, and it does not have value.

I also liked this quote from Jay Larson at Jive software:

"Today, if a CEO sends out an email message, how do you know who read it? How do you know who hit delete? How do you get feedback? You don't; you send it out to the ether and hope for the best."

Today, there are many PLM-based tools to support collaboration and sharing information throughout the enterprise. All of these tools are better than email for bringing people together. It has also been shown that when more people are involved with PLM, there is greater innovation. Dassault Systemes has their SWYM platform; PTC has Windchill SocialLink; Siemens PLM has Teamcenter Community, and the list goes on and on.

Check out some of these, and see how they might be used in your business today. Believe me, your competitors are working on this now, and you may be left in the dust. Email won't be dead anytime soon, but there are much better tools to support collaboration within the PLM environment.

What do you think?




  1. If the objective of a product development organization is to be lean and efficiently innovate and develop products by building knowledge and making decisions, then email is not a good tool. My hypothesis (which I'm researching) is that email leads to more product issues than it avoids. Take the email spider for example. This happens when a person creates an excel spreadsheet and sends to 20 of his / her colleagues. These people make a decisions on this data and send emails to another 20 other people, and so on and so on. What happens when the first person changes the data? The same spider is created again. Each time this spider is created there is tremendous rework that occurs when people readjust their data and decisions. For this reason, pushing data is a huge waste. Lean product development is all about pulling data in small batches. Email is the antithesis of lean.

    1. Dana,

      Thanks for your comment. I agree 100%! We have all seen the short-comings of email in our own organizations. But, I also see a hesitancy to use anything new. People don't like new things...but their kids do. I think we will see a slow adoption of social tools, until one day we will wonder how we could have depended on email for so long.

      It will be like looking back at an old record album. Our kids will say, "you use to use email?" Wow!