Product Development 2.0
PTC’s new PLM software, Windchill ProductPoint, is embracing Web 2.0 for the next generation of product development.
It’s all about blogging. . . .It’s all about friending. . . . It’s all about IMing. . . . And, at the end of all that chatter, it’s all about designing.
Or so goes the thinking these days at Parametric Technology Corp. (PTC; Waltham, MA), which, with the release of Windchill ProductPoint, hopes to, in effect, bring more MySpace into the workspace. At PTC developers believe that the current generation of product developers want to work collaboratively in a Web 2.0 manner. The PLM software was expressly written to foster easy sharing and annotation of CAD data among engineers and non-engineers, such as product managers, within an organization. Specifically, that means the software opens up a repository of information about a particular product or design for multiple users to add their two cents via built-in blogs, RSS feeds, and Wiki entries, and to create real-time discussions through video chatting and instant messaging, directly via the interface. ProductPoint does not require users to have CAD software to interact with it. For instance, anyone with a Web browser can view a 3D image with ProductView Lite, which is included with a seat of the software.
PTC Chief Product Officer Jim Heppelmann says that SharePoint, Microsoft’s fastest-growing software product, “is the new Windows.” So the PTC developers working on what was to become ProductPoint said, “If we took this social computing platform in SharePoint and used it for product development, we’d have social product development.” he says.
Windchill ProductView’s interface is designed to appeal to all users at all levels of a large or small-midsize business (SMB), says Heppelmann, and that’s hardly limited to a generational gap. “The fact is nobody really likes using PLM systems today,” Hepppelmann says. “But to some extent, we’ve become experts at taking ugly products and making them beautiful. Windchill ProductPoint was born beautiful.”
The new focus on social collaboration to improve product development doesn’t mean PTC is backing away from its core CAD suite, Pro/Engineer Wildfire 4.0. But standalone, high-end CAD applications are rapidly becoming a “thing of the past,” says PTC CEO Dick Harrison. “The bottleneck isn’t how they create geometry today, it’s how they manage the information,” Harrison says. And, evidentially, how they talk about it. The upcoming version of Pro/Engineer will also embrace social development with discussion forums, chatting capability and other collaborative functions.