Social Networks the Backbone of Integrated Product Teams

June 9, 2009

‘Facebook’ and the professional network LinkedIn are examples of an interactive way to keep in touch with people you know. In a business context these people may be colleagues or persons you may have worked with in the past or even ‘supplier’ connections.
I suppose we all know Facebook (FB), for those who do not, just google it. In this short post I will NOT be talking about the social side of FB rather the business side/potential.

Most companies in some form operate a corporate contact directory and HRM functions, i.e. what is the location of the person, who does he/she report to, telephone number, email etc. FB would extend these HRM functions with the connections between people, who a person works/ed with, the groups (read projects) this person works in, links to personal blogs and yes also Twitter/Yammer micro bloging. More and more of these functions I talked about earlier in this blog category (Collaboration) become integrated. For example LinkedIn now also has a file collaboration plugin and a travel function i.e. what are your distant travel plans. What you won’t find in for example the Application Sharing capability, is the experience this person has and the previous projects this person has worked on, and this is exactly the kind of things large corporations struggle with. Who’s got what experience from what projects and/or product functions. Here I believe is also the connection with PLM. In the paper era, many engineers kept notes in their personal note book. So, if that same engineer would capture these notes in personal blog and entries in Wiki then you really close the Knowledge capture circle. The nice thing is that this kind of Social integration of experience and knowledge into the Engineering domain would not take a lot implementation and application integration effort.

Back to PLM, the kind of functions you would expect to emerge are those in which blog, Wiki, Twitter and IM would be part of the engineering work bench I talked about in “Collaboration and Enabling Framework”. I bet as I write this more capabilities and functions are added to this exciting trend.
Lastly, you appreciate that Integrated Product Teams and also the external collaboration today depend on functions I covered in these Collaboration category posts. These functions would allow a transition of the classical Enterprise Integrated Product Team to Extended Enterprise Integrated Product Teams i.e. teams consisting both of systems integrator (intellectual property owners) and collaborating partner companies. The efficiency potential of this form of collaboration will be dramatic as it takes team collaboration to a totally different level.

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