The deliverables-centric theme is carried over into some of the interface enhancements in Vuuch 5.0. For example, every deliverable is presented with a Facebook-like page that displays related discussions as a dashboard for each person involved and highlights how the discussions converge with respect to specific project plans. In addition, Vuuch pages are organized in multiple structures, and each node generates dashboards and timelines across the structure -- another tactic that Vuuch officials said aids in keeping the social conversation focused on project deliverables.
The ability to participate in activity threads in much the same way a user would in a Facebook thread also makes it easier to become proficient in Vuuch and benefit from its collaboration capabilities. Tighter integration with Microsoft Project via a plug-in is another hallmark of the new release. It allows project details to be rolled up directly to the Microsoft Project plan in real-time.
Vuuch's collaboration story may be compelling for those who've been bitten by the social media bug, but the jury is still out on whether the engineering community in general will embrace social functionality. Many hardcore engineers still harbor concerns about security. They worry that critical product intellectual property doesn't belong in any forum where it could fall into the wrong hands. Others say social networking is not serious work or will be overrun with frivolous information tangential to the job at hand.
Even so, all you have to do is take a look at what's going on in the consumer field to see that, despite continuing reservations, social media use is not going away anytime soon. In recognition of that trend, many CAD and PLM vendors, including PTC and Dassault Systemes, are slowly folding in social functionality into their own platforms. Most, if not all, of the CAD and PLM vendors are taking this approach instead of promoting the open sharing of product data on any kind of public social forum.