Social Product Development

Friday, June 5, 2009

Think Engineers and Web 2.0 Don’t Mix? Think Again!

This is what I set out to learn.

First, I read Groundswell in November 2008. In December I pitched to Rob Gremley the idea of having Josh Bernoff and Forrester Research create a social technographics profile of product developers using PTC products as well as those that don’t. How actively do designers and engineers participate in Web 2.0 and social media activities? How about CAD and IT administrators? Managers? Directors? And even VPs? What about across industries? Any differences between those coming from electronics and high tech and those working in aerospace and defense, for example? Are product development practioners from SMB’s any more or less active than those who work in large enterprises? Would we see consistent activity across the geographies PTC serves throughout the world? Do they use social media and Web 2.0 in business?


So we created a survey….some would say (and did) that it was too long. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect. We sent the global survey out to 750,000 contacts in March 2009. In just two weeks, we had over 7,000 complete responses – a record for PTC. Josh and team churned the data. And the results not only surprised us, but it surprised them, too! The social technographics profile for US online adults in 2008 looks like this.

In comparison, the social technographics profile for our product development practitioners looks like this:

An astounding 89% of the respondents used social media and Web 2.0 tools in their personal and/or professional lives. The data was so significant that we peeled away those that only use these tools for personal use, so we could look at only those who use these tools in their job. We got answers to all our questions. Here are some of the highlights:
  • All roles are active in social media; managers a little more so than designers and engineers, CAD and IT administrators a little more than managers
  • There were no significant differences across industries; however A&D was a little less likely to participate than other industries.
  • Individuals from SMBs were a little more likely than those from large businesses, but all were still very likely to participate.
  • Regarding geographic differences, all were active, but China, India, Germany, Korea were all more active than the US.

So, are product developers ready for social product development. I’d have to say emphatically, Yes!


  1. Hi, Robin:

    Great post. What you've observed mirrors our own experience with a range of companies in different industries; social media and social computing are becoming mainstream in a number of business workflows.

    Our perspective is that the data itself should be harvested and integrated with the respective workflow (sales, support, product design).

    We'd love to follow up with you offline:



  2. If you are going to be "Social" you must be "Open"