Social Product Development

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

How Does “The Social” Extend Into The Enterprise

Ralph Grabowski recently published an article, titled “CAD vendors should spend their time ignoring the Social”. Head on over and give it a read (it’s short – only about 150 words), if you haven’t already.

Ralph claims that with (most recently) PTC’s launch of Creo, it had “the Social”. Ralph explains: “… By ‘the Social’ I mean the Social Web, the whole Twitter, Facebook, texting thing.)” Ralph makes the claim that social is mobile (presumably only), and then adds: “CAD doesn't work on phones, so CAD vendors don't need the Social.”

I respectfully disagree with Ralph, and on a few fronts.

Firstly, one of the reasons the PLM and CAD vendors (and any company, really) are using ‘The Social’ today is that it’s a part of the marketing mix. No longer are companies only using (and are customers only consuming) brochures. Now, it’s a mix of paper, digital, web, The Social, audio, word-of-mouth, forums, social networks … the list goes on. And I realize much of that list looks like promotion (one of the holy Four Ps). I truly mean marketing, in the sense of using multiple channels for market sensing, sizing, understand pain points, and creating an attractive value proposition. Efforts to use multiple channels to listen, act, engage, and promote are what companies need to do to stay (or become!) relevant in the 2010 marketplace.

Secondly, incorporating The Social into applications is increasing in importance. As a related note, read about how connecting things into a giant (philosophical) Web is evermore becoming a reality. Read about The Internet of Things here. No longer are products, documents, ideas, or problems solved in silos, or – one step better – in two adjacent cubicles. The work is spread across the aisles, buildings, states, countries, and oceans. Back in the day, one could holler down the hallway and ask who knows about working on a brake assembly. You’d get your answer, or get none. Your network was limited to those within shouting distance. Today, that distance is much farther, thanks to the advent of social networks. Now you can ask your extended network about who has worked on a brake assembly, and ideally get not only an answer, but multiple answers.

As a company, PTC as a PLM and CAD solution provider supports and believes in this initiative. So much so, in fact, that we’re capturing the experience of communities of practice and tacit knowledge sharing by creating a tool to facilitate this, called Windchill SocialLink. I encourage you to head over and watch the video to get a better understanding of what Windchill SocialLink offers.

Thirdly, I disagree that social equates to mobile. Each enhance one another, but they are surely not equal…. Or interchangeable. Social, to me, is something philosophical like ‘more than one person’ and ‘public’, or maybe ‘(selectively) open to comment’. With this definition, it extends far beyond mobile, far beyond simply Twitter and Facebook, far beyond simply advertising, and more toward crowd-sourced or multi-minded product creation.

What do you think? Does social equal mobile? Is there no place for The Social inside the PLM or CAD microcosms?

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  1. Couldn't agree more, Alan. I have been advocating incorporation of social media into the corporate B2B communications mix for some years. While working in-house for a UK-based SaaS IT business, I started using Twitter, blogs, YouTube, etc as a way to extend the reach of our existing communications, and to open up new conversations, and not just with customers/end-users.

    We found ourselves engaging with consultants advising potential customers, for example. We got into conversations with academics teaching existing and future industry professionals. We even had some constructive exchanges with competitors. And many of these exchanges were soon translated into useful face-to-face encounters.

    In my target market (construction), the ability to share ideas/problems remotely with geographically dispersed colleagues and project team members from other supply chain companies is vital, and social media provides various means to support that consultation and knowledge-sharing process - often much more quickly than through the "usual channels" (email, extranets, etc). Moreover, such communication is often more personal, helping people build and maintain friendship bonds that can be invaluable when you need to call in a favour.

    Over time, I have seen more IT vendors in the AEC space begin to embrace Web 2.0 tools as part of their marcoms mix. Fewer, though, have started to incorporate 'social' into their applications, but then they tend to be dealing with conservative customers - many of whom still adhere to the view that 'social' equals non-work, ignoring the reality that often the most successful ideas arise from social conversations around the water-cooler, etc.

    Social media is about people having conversations online, whether mobile or fixed location. No single channel predominates, so different routes can be used to have different types of conversation or to share different types of media (a CAD file, a photo, a video, etc), with channels also selected according to your location (are you on-site, commuting to work, sitting at your desk?) or how widely you want to share the exchange.

  2. This was perfect article a CAD student can get..thanks for the illustration..keep it up !!

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