Social Product Development

Friday, July 16, 2010

A Means to an End: Collaborative Product Development

Last week, Mashable! posted an article titled “How Social Media Has Prepared Us for Collaborative Business.” If you have a few extra minutes, jump over to that article, and come back afterward.

The core of the article is that working collaboratively – whether shoulder-to-shoulder on a drafting table, or across the ocean using a webcam, or asynchronously through a discussion forum – can produce great results. Most of the “social” social sites, like Facebook and MySpace and Twitter, get press that relates to those sites being a place to goof off or waste some time. However, we’re a sum of our surroundings, and we’re often connected socially to some contingent of people with whom we interact professionally.

As Kraig states (and my emphasis added):

But when we come to work, we throw all of this out the window. The concept of immediacy doesn’t exist here, and arguably, this is where it matters most. Many businesses are stuck in the past, using antiquated technologies that were put in place before the web even existed. For new graduates entering the workplace, it’s counterintuitive to have to revert to these slow forms of collaboration. As a result, we are more productive with our personal networks than we are with our colleagues and customers.

Think about that for a moment. Look around you at work. Are you surrounded by people older than you, younger than you, or the same age? How technically savvy are they? How resourceful are they in seeking answers? In my experiences and observations, I’ve used and seen used many tools to get the job done, from Google searching to asking friends on LinkedIn to a telephone call to asking the senior engineering manager in person. All are forms of social collaboration. Two of those methods didn’t exist 13 years ago. It might not seem like it, but social search is a form of asynchronous social collaboration. The power of social search is not to be dismissed.

The table that Kraig uses on the Mashable! post is perfect:

“Yes, but how does this relate to product development?” you may ask. Imagine you are working on an antenna design for a mobile telephone, and you want to ensure that holding the device a particular way isn’t going to obfuscate the radio reception. But, the radio engineer with whom you regularly consult is away on vacation. And there aren’t really any other engineers in the office to whom you can turn. If you are connected to a network of other engineers (who might have knowledge on the subject matter, but you didn’t really know that; or might be connected to someone who does), you could possibly get your answers.

Instead of…

You Now…

Post photos from the BBQ last Saturday and it will show up in the feeds of your friends and family.

Post renderings of the assembly housing to get reactions from the team.

Collaborate with friends to plan a camping trip for next month.

Organize the next cross-functional team meeting.

You follow @tylerflorence or @gdelaurentiis on Twitter for cooking tips.

Follow your competition on Twitter to ensure that you’re keeping pace (if that’s relevant to you).

You follow @Starbucks on Twitter for the latest deals and customer service.

Follow customer service/technical support for your product/s so you can understand the issues and the resolution.

You post questions to your Facebook wall or Twitter feed to get recommendations and insight from friends and industry experts.

Externally, you post questions to solicit use cases and design ideas. Internally, you post issues to get multiple responses, perhaps surfacing one you didn’t initially think of.

There are more examples of this. Jim Brown and Dora Smith talk about this as well. Check out their SlideShare presentation, and be sure to note the graphic on slide 21.

We’ve talked about this on the Social Product Development blog more than once because it’s something in which we passionately and truly believe. Do you? Can you share an example of using official or unofficial digital and social collaborating to develop a product? Let us know in the comments.

opening image source: Mashable! table image source: Mashable! article

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

From the Field: Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference

So as promised, an on the ground report from Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), where PTC was honored as Microsoft's Global ISV Industry Partner of the Year. And by "on the ground" I literally mean I am sitting on the floor waiting for my next session at WPC to begin.

It's been an enjoyable event for me personally - besides the obvious fact that Microsoft and various generous partners really know how to throw a good party, seeing the excitement around Windchill, including our new SharePoint-based solutions, is really a great feeling.

There have been more than a few highlights - from seeing former President Bill Clinton give a keynote earlier this morning, to seeing Rob Gremley, PTC's Executive Vice President of Marketing, co-present with Simon Witts, Corporate Vice President, Enterprise and Partner Group for Microsoft, on some of our recent joint wins. But perhaps my favorite moment was seeing Iain Michel, Senior Vice President, Corporate Development, go on the main stage to officially accept our Partner of the Year Award. Want proof? That's me whistling in the background (filmed with my phone, if you can't tell by the quality):

(The original post has an embedded movie. Can't see it? Pop out and go here.)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Aberdeen Group Market Alert: Windchill SocialLink and Social Product Development

Now that the US based folks are recovering from the 4th of July holiday, I wanted to take a moment to wax nostalgic about that other big summer event by sharing some perspectives from folks who AREN’T me. This past week, the team at Aberdeen Group published a Market Alert on Windchill SocialLink, a solution they got to check out when it was introduced at the PTCUser event:

Aberdeen Market Alert: Can Windchill SocialLink and Social Product Development Transform Engineering Collaboration?

As mentioned in the press release linked in my previous blog, Windchill SocialLink leverages social computing capabilities to bring the collective wisdom of communities to bear on product development challenges. My favorite part of the Market Alert? Aberdeen’s assertion that Windchill SocialLink “has the potential to transform the way product development organizations share information and solve design problems with an ultimate impact on time to market, development costs, and product revenue.” I think they’re on to something…

Next week I'm off to the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington, DC - where PTC will be honored as Microsoft's Global ISV Industry Partner of the Year. I'll post some thoughts from the show floor, assuming that the Microsoft-sponsored social events don't wear me out (I am getting old, as of today, you know). Of course, if you can't wait that long, you can follow me on twitter to get the latest happenings in real(ish) time.

In the meantime, I'd love to hear your thoughts on Aberdeen's perspective. What’s *your* prediction? How will social change product development? Does it mean new features and functionality, or a true transformation of the space?