Social Product Development

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Getting Smart with Social Product Development

Let’s face it, not many company execs wake up one morning and think “today I’ll buy a new CAD or product development solution” – much as we vendors would embrace such an approach.

The reality is that such decisions are typically driven by one or more business critical events, such as a lost opportunity, a failed product, a new competitor, and a whole host of other reasons. Rather than having a knee-jerk reaction to these events, smart companies begin by asking some tough questions and using the answers to formulate and follow a plan for improvement. These plans take the form of clearly identified ‘business initiatives’, such as increasing the reuse of existing components and modules.

This structured approach is especially important for smaller manufacturing businesses (SMBs), which may not have the financial cushion and resources of their larger counterparts.

With all this chatter around social computing and its relevance to product development, it’s important to keep it in context. What we’re seeing is the emergence of new technologies, which will allow every stakeholder in the product development chain to more freely communicate and collaborate – not just internally, but with customers and suppliers. Here’s one of those tough questions I mentioned earlier: “How responsive are we to changing customer requirements?”

Interestingly, SMBs may be better positioned than larger organizations to enjoy the competitive advantages promised by this new social computing phenomenon. Being more nimble, smaller companies can adopt these new (and in many cases, free) technologies faster, and use them to improve processes, as well as find new markets and more customers (Hmm, as an answer to that tough question, think instant, dynamic and relentless focus groups). But, again, it takes a structured approach to make this promise a reality.

I have no doubts about social product development being the natural evolution for collaboration. At PTC, our “business fitness” program is focused on helping SMBs judiciously implement proven business initiatives. Social product development is an obvious addition to this program, and I’ll be writing more about how you can assess, embrace, and implement these technologies in a way that makes sense for your individual needs.

1 comment:

  1. I am certain that many new venues for opportunity will arise for the SMB space as technologies cross industry and social barriers.

    Love it!