Gloomy Future of Social Business Innovation

Filed in Enterprise Software | Innovation | PLM | Social Computing Leave a comment

Social computing has been playing a leading role in discussions around mega computing trends; it is especially hard to ignore the prominence of social sites such as Facebook, twitter, Google+ etc. I believe the freedom of expression, the ability to share opinions as well as to connect with like-minded friends/people has been the prime force in the surge of social computing. Socially Intelligent Computing has helped vendors to generate new revenue streams by analyzing individual or group behavior for target marketing purposes. Such targeted processes or Collaborative Filtering to send focused suggestion of products and services of common interest to people and their connections has now been used  to classify people with common interest and discriminate them or target them in activities  that maybe against the common interest of a group, organization, state or country. Social Networking has created new avenues for law enforcement. Many Facebook posts have been used to catch suspects. Then there is a list of people caught via social media and the role of social media in Arab spring. These are excellent examples of how social computing is helping to build a better society. On the other hand such uses of Social Computing have raised some privacy concerns, fear of being investigated and slow but genuine cautious voicing of opinions and sharing of ideas.

Businees Innovation

These changes happening in the public social computing have deep impact on the business social computing too. In my discussion with business stake holders, there is a common anxiety to purposefully measure the return on investment from social applications within the business.

New Hurdles for Social Business Computing

In my experience Business Social Computing has primarily been used to improve existing business processes and as a Launchpad for innovative ideas.  I have observed that the restrictive nature of voicing out opinions in business environment inherently reduces the participation rate in business social environment as compared to public social domains. Lately, the fear of being watched and being differentiated or discriminated in the public social sites has trickled into businesses. This fear does give a healthy direction and subjective continuation of business discussions, but participation is left to a select few versus the masses in the enterprise. Enterprise wide participation generates ideas for innovation especially in product innovation space / PLM. A lower contribution in business social applications within the organization will make businesses to re-think their social computing strategy as they evaluate the return on their investments.


Here are some recommendations to improve the return on investment from Business Social Computing applications.

  1. Reward for participation; these could be points or score that lead to a monetary or non-monetary benefits.
  2. The top management should reiterate the benefits of Social Business Computing as related to innovation.
  3. Moderate the posts, suggestion and comments before they go live.
  4. Assure the contributors that they would not be penalized for their opinions.
  5. Allocate time for contribution to business discussions in social applications from other business functions, so the top contributors are not discriminated.


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Do I need BPM with PLM?

Filed in BPM | PLM Leave a comment

I came across this white paper from IBM  – Realizing the Full Scope of PLM with Business Process Management.  This white paper seems to be a bit dated given the changes that have taken place in PLM (product life-cycle management). Pega has also laid down great points related to the advantages of using BPM for PLM in a whitepaper .  After going through an actual project of matching end-user needs with BPM (Business process management), I feel nothing much has changed about people’s perspective about BPM.  Given this background here is my analysis in the following few sentences that provides a practical comparison between BPM and PLM.

BPM has a very broad relevance across business areas as it primarily uses tecBPM Hammerhnology and generic workflow pattern to simplify business processes. By design, BPM packages need to be customized to fit any business needs. This inherent flexibility makes BPM a logical candidate for simplifying the business processes around product development and maintenance.  This in-turn makes BPM expensive, time consuming to implement and resource intensive to maintain. In comparison PLM is specifically directed towards product innovation, life-cycle management and it addresses all product-process based business processes. PLM vendors include functions in their vanilla packages that address the core product centric business processes.

I believe BPM is a great solution –  if you have a unique business process or a unique technology issue that none of commercially available PLM packages are unable to address. Just because you have bigger hammer let’s not universally assume everything is a nail.

What’s your BPM-PLM experience?

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What is PLM (Product Life-Cycle Management)?

Filed in BPM | Enterprise Software | PLM Leave a comment

For sticklers,  here is my attempt at the definition of PLM: –

“PLM is an enterprise software strategy that helps firms plan and achieve product-process innovation from their conceptualization to decommissioning, encompassing people or systems across the value chain”.

PLM has evolved from its origins in computer design, management of product development data, simulation and now taking root in advanced virtual reality. It can certainly be a topic of contention to define the boundaries of PLM.  I think the PLM concept becomes easily understandable if we concentrate on one word i.e. – “life-cycle”. Simplistically, PLM is the management of the entire life-cycle of a product. Lifecycle  is defined as a series of stages through which something (as an individual, culture, or manufactured product) passes during its lifetime.

This simplistic view of life-cycle makes PLM expansive and a bit confusing.  It is undeniable that PLM is an enterprise software strategy rather than just a business strategy. End-users (consumers of PLM) might have a business need that may or may not require end-to-end PLM suite. An end-user might choose more than one PLM software vendor to address their product’s life-cycle.

The question arises, if PLM manages life-cycle of a product or a process. Why can’t we use an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) or BPM (Business Process Management) software? The answer is “INNOVATION”. PLM software helps in innovating new products and processes from existing ones. Please be assured I am not talking about Invention, the keyword is “innovation”. If your PLM software implementation has not helped you innovate, you could be better off with customized ERP or BPM software. My focus in this blog piece is not highlight difference between PLM and other enterprise software’s, but to draw some boundaries and provide an understanding in few words to both engineering as well as business audience as to what PLM is really all about ?

PLM What


This figure provides a representation of the areas or domains that PLM software covers; each domain is represented in the outer circle like Simulation, Idea Management, Design, Configuration etc. Many PLM vendors specialize in a single or multiple domains of PLM. It may also be noted that certain domains or areas of PLM represented in the figure such as PPM (Project & Portfolio Management)  have roots and applicability outside of PLM, but only their  product innovation based functions grant them to be part of PLM.

I hope this write-up  provides a starting point for a wholesome discussion about the definition and boundaries of PLM.

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