For those of you who could not attend the PLM SIG event I moderated Thursday evening, we discussed the parallel if not converging paths of PLM (product lifecycle management), SCM (software configuration management), and KM (knowledge management) solutions, and the implications of the social software paradigm shift affecting how people connect online in non-business settings.
Some people ask - what does social software have to do with any of these business applications? My view is that all of these tools and systems are subsets of the larger collaboration "space," and ultimately their functionality and use cases are all driven by users and their ever-changing moods. While it is yet to be seen that this current craze over social software will provide any business application, PLM/SCM/KM have been around for 20+ years. While their functionality has expanded with technology, their fundamental usage patterns - the processes with which they are used - have not changed much. PLM still revolves largely around the BOM, SCM deals mainly with code, and KM lives and breathes documents. But what I suggested Thursday night was that the user patterns and expectations for collaboration are changing due to social software -- how we connect, how we identify collaborators, what we classify as secure/non-secure, how we search, how we link, etc. This will undoubtedly have an impact on how these subsets work.
I'd like to know what you think about this - will we see a convergence of these solutions?