Product Data Management (PDM) systems have been around for years, but were viewed by many as an engineering or manufacturing technology. So its no surprise that many of the advances in ad hoc collaboration technology would occur in that space. Offerings from companies such as CoCreate's OneSpace, E2open's Collaboration Manager, and the startup PDMOffice are all looking at collaboration with a geographically dispersed set of partners and suppliers on design plans and other artifacts, regardless of the application. All of these systems offer team work spaces and simple workflow, with various offerings of instant messaging, prescence awareness, application sharing, and other real-time or offline collaboration tools.
What these companies recognize is the need to bridge the gap between the complex, process-oriented enterprise solutions and the individual-based collaboration technologies being adopted around the world, such as IM, web conferencing, and peer-to-peer networking.