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.
Rob, I was going to ask the same thing. I was reviewing collaboration software for some clients a couple of years back. These tended to merge social media with project management. In one tool, which looked good, everything was a project. The last time I talked to the local rep for that company they were being redirected to a particular application area. I think the problem they ran into was with their project centered terminology they were lumped in with project collaboration and management products. Like Facebook, they were completely general purpose.
It looks like the vendors in the CAD space are going the same route. Make something "like" Facebook, but more specific. With this approach they can address security concerns while leveraging the social media idea.
Another answer to your question might be that the trend these days is for users to want their on-line experiences to be similar at work and at play. Considering the centrality of computers to our lives these days, that makes sense. How it gets implemented is another story.
Yes, I would imagine it feels foreign to most engineers, However, I have hunch that twenty-something engineers fresh out of college will get their hands on these tools and go, "Whoa, look what this can do!" Whatever vendor can wow the next generation of engineers may have a winner.
Rob, I think it's early on and way to soon to say these tools are gaining traction. I think with any kind of new technology, the software vendors are experimenting by pushing the envelope with capabilities that consumers are using in other aspects of their lives and seeing how they can make a difference with design tools. Some engineers will like the new way of working, others won't. But just like with any new technology, you've got to take some shots and see where it all lands. Years from now, I think social components will be a mainstay of every kind of software, but because it's new territory, it still feels pretty foreign to most engineers.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.