Sunday, January 30, 2011

Social Product Development defined

Over the next couple of blog posts, I would like to explore the field of Social Product Development. So let's start with a definition:

Coming from the PLM perspective, I won't spend much time on defining PLM – I will just go with the CIMdata definition of PLM as:
A strategic business approach that applies a consistent set of business solutions that support the collaborative creation, management, dissemination, and use of product definition information
Supporting the extended enterprise (customers, design and supply partners, etc.)
Spanning from concept to end of life of a product or plant
Integrating people, processes, business systems, and information

The issues in defining the dynamic topic of social computing or Web 2.0 are well described in
Web 2.0 Architectures: What Entrepreneurs and Information Architects Need to Know
(Amazon affiliate link)

As a starting point, the book cites the famous „What is Web 2.0“ article by Tim O'Reilly and the table comparing old Web with Web 2.0:

Web 1.0

Web 2.0
-->Google AdSense
Britannica Online
personal websites
--> and EVDB
domain name speculation
-->search engine optimization
page views
-->cost per click
screen scraping
-->web services
content management systems
directories (taxonomy)
-->tagging ("folksonomy")

More basic, let's consider the following technologies Web 2.0:
  • Blogs, wikis and other community spaces for collaboration
  • Real-time communication and sharing including status updates and presence detection
  • Profile pages of experts – making their specific skills searchable
  • Social search mechanisms including rating and tagging
The book goes beyond such a list of basic technologies and extracts some patterns that characterize successful Web 2.0 companies:
  • Participation – Collaboration among self-organizing communities
  • Mashup for content aggregation
  • Collaborative tagging or folksonomy
  • Rich user experience or rich internet application (RIA)
  • ...

With this, lets define Social Product Development as the use of Web 2.0 technologies and patterns for PLM.

This picture is catchy, but I think it also is misleading: the intersection is just too small. I would consider social computing more as an infrastructure upgrade for PLM – especially for the collaborative pieces of PLM.

In the next posts, I would like to focus on
  • real world examples of companies using social product development
  • best practices for the implementation of social product development
Please share your descriptions and links in the comments section of this post.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

No PLM apps at M-Days2011 - why not?

A colleague of mine asked earlier this week on the Cirquent Blog "Are apps a hype?"
Almost instinctively, I commented "of course not" and cited some examples for apps in the PLM space:

Teamcenter on iPad
BCT offers a Teamcenter client that runs on the iPad. You can search and navigate product data and visualize some document fomats (MS Office, TIFF).


3DVIA on iPhone
Dassault Systemes offers an iPhone app that can visualize 3D models from the online community. You can pan, rotate, zoom - and you can insert the 3D models into a photo taken with the iPhone (-> augmented reality for beginners)


Aras PLM mobile client from Porchys
This is available (?) for Android and the iPhone and can also be used to creating and editing product data.

And I can imagine some nice use cases for PLM apps:
  • Simple workflow tasks (inbox check, signoffs)
  • Project management tasks such as work package editing
  • Document reviews (at least with the larger screenspace of an iPad)
  • Dashboards and reports

Looking at the agenda of the M-Days (Frankfurt, Germany, January 27-28, 2011), I had to realize that none of these or any other apps from the PLM space are present at this conference. Most of the business applications seem to come from the sales and service processes. Why is that?

Barriers for PLM apps
  • Product data can become quite large. Restricting the apps to meta-data and ultra-lightweight 3D data helps, but limits the potential use cases
  • Smaller market for app vendors - compared to the large number of users in sales & service
  • Security for sensitive product data - from data transmission to the loss of mobile devices

What do you think - will we see more PLM apps in 2011?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Why not?

A colleague of mine @Cirquent reacted nicely to this blog with the following tweet:
Why blog with 44? fragt sich unser Kollege Jens Krüger. Well, why not?! :)

Well, never ask an engineer in the "why don't we" format (

So here are my top 3 reasons for not blogging:

Time consuming
I found that the most time consuming thing about blogging is not the actual writing of new posts, but the constant reading of a variety of related blogs. After the initial detection of some relevant blogs for me, I spent a few days just reading through their archives, following their links etc.
But: that was just the initial setup, the daily or weekly following of the most important blogs should only take a few minutes per day. I guess I will have to find a way to filter and prioritize posts in my Google Reader, which has still more than 300 open posts to read. In terms of content, I found the blogs to be much more interesting than some of the official communication published on traditional websites.

In this blog, there is admittedly some ambiguity between business contents and more personal thoughts. And there is also always the legal risk of missing some terms of use or copyright restrictions.
But: that's the point in using a blog: the ability to publish and discuss your thoughts. My brain has no exclusive business and private modes.

Everyone can read this - customers, colleagues, competition, friends etc. It will probably be impossible to delete all traces on the internet created just from this blog and comments in other blogs.
So what: also in blogging, you are responsible for your statements. The transparency is required for the social part in social media. And our Cirquent Social Media Guideline promotes this transparency.

Any comments?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Getting content - which blogs to follow?

Now that I've figured out the tool question (Google Reader), the next question is about content - which blogs to follow? I structured this into the following fields:
  • Blogs related to my profession, i.e. consulting in the PLM (product lifecycle management) domain
  • Blogs related to the market, i.e. customers, competition and industries
  • Blogs related to relevant technology and media
For identifying relevant blogs in these fields, I took the following approach:
  •  In Technorati, make sure you search for „Blogs“, not for „Posts“
  • In addition to Technorati, search with Google Blogsearch
  • Look at the blogroll of your favourity blogs
  • If you are interested in a specific company such as BMW, look at their homepage
  • If there is no blog on your topic, create a Google Alert (or create your blog on this topic). You simply enter some keywords as search criteria and have Google deliver the results via RSS (or email)
With this introduction, here are the blogs that I will try to follow:

Blogs related to my profession, i.e. consulting in the PLM (product lifecycle management) domain:

Beyond PLM

Information about engineering and manufacturing software by
Oleg Shilovitsky. Includes the „Daily PLM think tank“.
In his blogroll, you can find more PLM-related blogs.


PLM industry analyst (Twitter feed)

Jo Voskuil

Global mid-market observations of the world now called PLM by
Jos Voskuil


Engineering strategies, talent management and software by Chad
Jackson from Lifecycle Insights


Business Technology Consulting incl. PLM

Dassault 3D Perspectives

PLM vendor Dassault Systemes (Enovia)

Social Product Development

PLM vendor PTC (Windchill;blog focus on social product


PLM vendor Siemens PLM (Teamcenter)

Aras Open Source


PLM vendor Aras

CAD software industry comments from Deelip


IT consulting – my employer
Blogs related to the market, i.e. customers, competition and industries:


Aviation blog by John Ostrower - #1 aviation blog in Technorati

Automotive Blog

T-Systems blog on the automotive industry


Daimler corporate blog (why does BMW not have a blog?)


Airbus as a company doesn't seem to have a blog or RSS feed, so
I created my personal RSS feed using Google Alert. This is not the same as a blog, but keeps me updated.
Blogs related to relevant technology and media:

Chris Brogan

Blog on new media (focus on marketing)

IT /

Gapgemini technology blog


Blog by Jeff Jarvis („What would Google do?“)


Everything about BlackBerry

P.s.: sorry about the strange formatting of the table - copy&paste from Open Office into the Blogger-editor didn't work and I'm not too good at HTML...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Getting started: blogging tools

This post describes my way into blogging. Obviously, I managed to setup a blog on Blogger - but I had little clue of what I was doing. I wasn't even following other blogs until recently.

First of all, I tried to get an overview on the topic and some context.
I found the "Introduction to social media" from Nicholas Lamphere to be very helpful - and nicely done using Prezi.

From this introduction, I took away the following attributes of a blog:
  • Everyone can become a publisher of a blog
  • Creating posts including multimedia content is easy. Frequent updates are possible and expected
  • A good blog should have a clear topical focus
  • Blogs can be commented, which makes them a more interactive medium
  • It's about networking - with readers and other bloggers
I also ordered an O'Reilly book in order to get a solid background on the overall topic:
Web 2.0 Architectures: What Entrepreneurs and Information Architects Need to Know

Blog authoring / publishing
I started my blog using Blogger - which belongs to Google - without doing an extensive search for alternatives, mainly because I already have an Google account and the tool seemed to be powerful and easy to use. WordPress seems to be the biggest competitor to Blogger. So far, I'm very happy with this decision - here are the things I like:
  • Setting up a blog is very easy, yet a lot of options including the design can be configured
  • Blogger provides optional gadgets to add more functionality to the blog, e.g. a blogroll or RSS feed
  • The integrated editor for posts is intuitive to use - just like Word
  • Reporting on the use of the blog (stats)
  • Integration to Amazon via the partner program makes linking to products incl. images easy
  • Ability to create posts via email

Blog reading
I used to read blogs with a Firefox plug-in (which was discontinued) and with Outlook (which I only use for company email). So it was time for find a pervasive online solution. Again, I ended up with Google and their Reader. Again, here are the things I like:
  • Available only - from every computer or mobile browser
  • Ability to tag the posts, e.g. for further reading or for organizing them
  • Integration with Blogger ("Blogs I follow" are automatically added to Reader)
  • Scary Google intelligence in recommending blogs
  • Social networking features such as digging posts and recommending posts
You can find a selection of the blogs that I follow at the bottom of my blog page.

Blog searching
For searching blogs, I use Technorati in addition to Googles Blogsearch. I even created an Technorati account in order to announce my blog to them. This "claim" involved categorizing the blog and creating tags. This makes browsing blogs in Technorati easier than in Google Blogsearch where you just have the familiar search box - a bit like the old Yahoo yellow pages.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Password safe for PC and BlackBerry

Are you also drowning in 50+ passwords, PINs, accounts etc. that need to be remembered somehow? More and more websites and applications need to know with whom they are dealing, i.e. require you to login with a safe and unique user/password combinatino. I used to have them in Outlook notes, in encrypted Excel tables, on paper notes and other strange locations. During the 2010 christmas vacation, I decided to clean-up the mess and started using a password safe.

My requirements:
  • Safe
  • Open source (not necessarily free - but that came along with open source)
  • Ability to use on multiple PCs and the BlackBerry (synchronization)
  • Ability to import and export the password database using a variety of formats

Solution: Keepass and Keepass BB
I'm pretty happy with the solution I found, so here is the step-by-step instruction for setting up a password safe incl. BB synchronization:

1. Install keepass V2 on your PC :

2. Install keepass BB V2 on your Blackberry (I choose the "over the air" OTA install): . Leave the configuration settings at the default values, i.e. do not use "external file mode" for the databse.

3. Create a new password database on your PC. Select a path to store the resulting .kdbx file. Assign a master password for this database. Create a few entries.

4. Install the keepass V2 add-in for the BlackBerry Desktop Manager in order to automate the synchronization: . I followed the installation instructions and installed the add-in by downloading and double-clicking the .msi-file. As part of the installation process, the application needs to be configured as a synchronization plugin for the BB Desktop Manager (BBDM).

5. Now you are ready for the synchronization of your password database from the PC to the BlackBerry: in the BBDM-Synchronize menu, check the option to "Run add-in actions". I left the other checkboxes empty since my email etc. is not synchronized via BBDM. Then click on the Synchronize button next to the checkboxes. The add-in will ask for your keepass master password so that it can access the password database. It will then transfer the entries from your PC to your BB.

BBDM synchronization settings