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In product development, innovation means bringing together people with different expertise to develop breakthrough product and service offers. In spite of their potential, cross-functional efforts are not yet adequately supported from a knowledge perspective, asking for a more open and bottom-up approach for knowledge management. The paper aims to investigate how social technologies can enhance collaboration and knowledge sharing in complex, cross-functional and cross-organizational product development projects, highlighting the role of weak ties as enablers for more innovative design processes. Emerging from data collected in two case studies within the European aeronautical industry, it applies the Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats (SWOT) framework to highlight how wikis, blogs, forum or microblogs can shorten lead-time and increase the quality of early design decisions. Furthermore, it elaborates on how the design team can enhance its perception of the needs to be addressed and leverage its capability to develop solutions for the task at hand.