Social Product Development

Friday, May 6, 2011

Why I'd rather eat a burger: SocialLink in practice (at PTC!)

You may have heard the phrase, "eating our own dog food." Especially if you're part of the software world, where it is dearly loved. It refers, of course, to using your own products internally. I've never been particularly fond of the phrase - for one, it doesn't lend itself to any sort of politically correct segue from an opening comment about the Kentucky Derby. More so than that, the phrase seems to imply that there's something, well...unappetizing about your own products. Unless you're a dog, I suppose. But assuming you aren't a dog (okay, well not THAT kind of dog, anyway), eating dog food is probably pretty painful. I'm not planning to test that out myself, but I can tell you that even my own pup isn't shy about expressing her preference for a burger.

Using your own products shouldn't be painful. For a lot of reasons. First and foremost is that you want your employees to have an experience that reflects the positive experience you hope your customers are having. If your employees are frustrated by your software, I'd hate to look at your help desk logs. From a purely selfish marketing perspective, it's tough to evangelize a product that you don't believe in yourself. And it's tough to work for a company whose products you can't get behind.

So what am I getting on about? Well, here at PTC, we use our own products. And they're definitely not dog food. One of the reasons that I'm so excited about Windchill SocialLink is that I'm using it myself, all the time. Especially with the distributed teams I work with - not only across geographies, but across organizations - it's hugely helpful to have central communities where I can share information or ask questions about the products I'm developing campaigns around. I mean, I do more than just write this blog, you know.

But it makes sense that marketing would be well suited to use Windchill SocialLink, right? That we'd have no problem adopting social tools. At least, according to my cross-functional friends, it fits in nicely with our daily agenda of drawing with crayons and updating Facebook (note to my boss in Germany - that was sarcasm, that's not what I do all day, I promise). But it's true, our marketing organization does use social technology as part of our portfolio, so it stands to reason we would be comfortable with other types of social technology. And that's why this story isn't about me.

Instead, it's about a group that we typically don't associate with Twitter posts and Facebook updates (although that in itself is a topic for discussion). I'm talking about more than 700 engineers here - and by "here" I mean 12 sites and five time zones - who are using SocialLink to collaborate on the most ambitious development project in company history.

The story of our development of Creo, and use of SocialLink, was published in the Spring issue of Prime magazine. You can read the full article here:

Full story

Pretty cool, huh? So in essence, one of our products is making it easier for us to develop another one of our other products. Which gives us a lot of products to be excited about around here.

So with that, I'm off to gather Mint Julep ingredients...and maybe grab some burgers for the grill. I'll leave the dog food for folks in the dog house. You know who you are.

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