I have been following posts on a blog hosted by PTC, a vendor of product development technology solutions to ‘discrete manufacturers’. Its product lifecycle management (PLM) applications are widely used in the industrial, high-tech, aerospace and defence, automotive, consumer and medical device sectors. OK, not my usual industry interests, but useful nonetheless as the blog posts are about how multi-disciplinary teams can use technology – and web 2.0 technologies in particular – to share and develop their product ideas.
And earlier this month, I got a news release from PTC about how its Windchill ProductPoint could be integrated with Microsoft’s SharePoint system to extend the SharePoint capabilities to work with complex CAD and structured product data, while also enabling social computing. PTC’s Rob Gremley says:
“Social product development is the next step in the evolution of how people work together. The idea that social product development was ever considered to be a new and revolutionary model will seem inconceivable to the next generation of engineers who have grown up with social networking as a normal vehicle for information sharing. Organizations that are able to harness the power of social computing in their product development strategy will quickly outpace their competitors with greater operational efficiency and ultimately better products.”
An AEC opportunity?
It is widely held, I think, that the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) sector lags behind technological developments in other industries, including manufacturing. PTC is already showing the way it believes manufacturing businesses can achieve a competitive advantage, so I wonder how long it will be before AEC firms begin to embrace social media as part of their technology stack to improve their operational efficiency and deliver better buildings and other assets?
Some have begun to adopt the tools and techniques (I have mentioned Fielden Clegg Bradley’s adoption of Wikis, and have blogged on pwcom2.0 about HOK’s use of blogs, Facebook and Twitter – see post and follow-up guest post), but for many AEC firms, social media is either shunned or only grudgingly tolerated – and even then perhaps simply for PR, marketing or recruitment purposes. Few have embraced Web 2.0 whole-heartedly and – perhaps apart from AEC integrations with SharePoint, the Kalexo platform I reviewed earlier this year, and Asite’s new community portal – we remain some way from incorporating social computing into everyday professional interaction in the AEC sector.