Social, mobile tools enhance the PLM model
Social networking tools
ISG proposes a collaboration model that generates intellectual capital gathered from all of a company’s relevant constituents, including pertinent social networks that tap into the final customer’s insight where they air their views about products. Today there is even more sharing and shifting of power from marketers to customers where the manufacturer can’t afford to ignore customer sentiments that are presented through the conversations going on in the social media sphere.
According to ARC Advisory Group, soliciting these conversations, paying attention to the advice, and integrating them into product lifecycle management will save manufacturers several marketing dollars.
The speed of product design into a lifecycle process is hastened through the addition of social technologies and the impact they can bring. Innovation management is a critical business process that is most effective when implemented as an end-to-end continuous process driven by a culture of innovation and enabled by technology.
According to Michael Fauscette, group vice president of software business solutions at IDC, “building a collaborative enterprise is about a lot more than just some new software tools; it’s about fundamental changes to culture and behavior. There are four phases of innovation management: idea-source, develop, produce, and feedback, built on new social technologies that are integrated across a business. Such an approach will help companies compete more effectively in the rapidly changing global, hyper-connected business environment we have today.”
It’s not a revelation to see PLM slowly adopting social habits, just like some other enterprise processes and tools. Manufacturing industries and engineers have been slower in adoption than marketers and media. Managing security and compliance continues to be one of main struggles. There are real risks to using social media, ranging from damaging the brand to exposing proprietary information to inviting lawsuits. Even the most responsible employees have lapses in judgment, make mistakes, or behave emotionally.
Dealing with a confidential design comment in the office is one thing; if the comment or slip-up on providing confidential product design details is made on a work-related social media account, then it's out there, and it most likely can't be retrieved. Most industry experts agree that without putting in place a social media policy for your enterprise, you may be inviting disaster. Companies need to spell out and be up front with the goals and parameters of its social media initiative. Otherwise they are not properly mitigating risk. It is important to predetermine who is allowed to use social media on behalf of the organization and what they're allowed to share.
Bertrand Sicot, CEO of SolidWorks (part of Dassault Systemes), noted that while people still have some insecurity about data sharing in the cloud, the general belief is that more people are growing more comfortable about using it: “Regardless of the platform, our customers are always ensuring their IP is protected.” He continued, “There is a bigger concern when data residing outside their infrastructure is contemplated. We have seen a similar scenario with how unsure we were about conducting online banking just a few years back, and now people have come to embrace it. We anticipate the same will happen in our industry. People in time will become more comfortable with the security put in place to protect their designs.”
Collaborative tools change product development
Social media and collaboration tools are changing how product development was once regarded. Gone are the days of the closed-door, experts-only approach to designing and engineering products. There is a new force in town made up of social-savvy mobile employees that are Internet-enabled and always connected. PLM users have no choice but to expand, rethink implementation strategies and plans, and embrace the fundamental shifts in PLM enabling technologies and their use for collaboration.
Experts are concluding that the enterprises that seize the opportunities offered by these shifts in PLM software models enabled by social business tools—in particular, by leveraging their mobile connected workforce—will be in a better position to use new collaborative skills being brought to the workplace and consequently will have better engineered products.
- Marlee Rosen is research analyst at Rosen Associates. Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, CFE Media, Control Engineering, mhoske(at)cfemedia.com.
Extra information above and below appear in this article, beyond what appears in the August 2013 Control Engineering print and digital edition.
Social business platform helps product design, manufacturing management collaboration
Omnify Software advocates conducting perception studies with customers to prioritize how its social dashboard could provide the most value. They went about identifying how users would want to communicate product lifecycle management (PLM) data with suppliers, customers, manufacturing partners, and other external resources and uncovered that customers want a web-based social platform that can allow for communicating product information in a secure environment that eliminates the need for partners to directly access their Omnify Empower system.
Omnify partnered with Sabisu, a social business platform provider that makes complex operational environments manageable. The partnership has yielded a social business portal that is promoting faster, better product design and manufacturing management collaboration. This type of social portal eliminates the use of e-mails and spreadsheets to share information with external resources and instead provides the ability for these channels to access real-time information from anywhere in the world, shorten the communication cycle, and make better decisions.