face-to-face or remotely (or a combination
of the two). This is the realm of the video-conferencing and collaboration software
we are all familiar with, such as Microsoft
Skype, Cisco Web EX, and Zoom.
A new and exciting form of synchronous
collaboration that is starting to gain traction
is via AR (Augmented Reality), VR (Virtual
Reality), and MR (Mixed-Reality). With AR/
VR/MR people can, for instance, collaborate
around a 3D virtual representation of a car to
review the design and iterate more freely and
quickly, without having to physically build every design prototype in clay, which can limit
creativity with longer steps.
Increasingly, these synchronous collaboration solutions are built on the cloud because it is much easier to deliver the scalabil-ity, performance, security, and availability
required by these applications.
● The second type of collaboration – asynchronous collaboration – is about documenting the information related to a product, project, or discussion in a way that is
easily discoverable and traceable. There is a
wide range of applications for asynchronous
collaboration – from formal systems of record such as PLM systems, to team collaboration applications such as Microsoft Teams
or Slack, to cloud storage services such as
Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox, or Box.
In this category we can also include productivity applications such as Microsoft
Office 365 or Google G Suite, which are offering more and more collaboration functionality, particularly around document
sharing and editing. Again, these systems are
increasingly being built on cloud platforms
for the same reasons mentioned above (
scal-ability, performance, security, availability).
People and Machines
Finally, a new type of collaboration that is generating a lot of excitement is human-machine collaboration.
This type of collaboration is enabled by artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence has been
around for a while, but now is reaching an inflection point where real applications are starting to
become available, thanks to the confluence of
better algorithms, large amounts of data, and
computational power, all enabled by the cloud.
One such application of AI that is being
used for human-machine interactions is
bots. Think of a bot as an app that users interact with in a conversational way. Bots can
communicate conversationally with text, visuals, or speech. A bot may be as simple as
basic pattern matching with a response, or it
may be a sophisticated weaving of artificial
intelligence techniques with complex conversational state tracking and integration to
existing business services.
In closing, collaboration wasn’t born with
the cloud, but it is definitively much easier
to enable in the cloud. Manufacturing companies and software companies that develop
software for them are embracing the cloud
because it is a natural environment for delivering collaboration in a manufacturing
enterprise – among software applications,
machines, and people in a secure, scalable,
distributed, and performant manner. M
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