Building Toward Big Vision: The Dassault Experience

3DS Analyst Meeting 2015

Dassault Systemes’ Analyst Meeting immersed us in both their own progress and in customer  innovations such as the Link & Go driverless car, described here by AKKA Technologies’ Chief Innovation Officer Philippe Obry.

What is the most challenging part of pursuing a big vision? Often, it’s turning it into reality. The progress must be steady and realistic, which can be frustrating for a visionary. Yet the typical path to a bigger, better future is step-by-step, gathering steam and support from others as you go. Sometimes the path will vary from what you expected, but if the progress continues toward the goal, it counts as success.

Such is the path of successful software providers: building toward a vision in a crescendo. Those who don’t have a big vision are not compelling, and those who don’t execute methodically often end up simply making a mess for themselves and the companies they serve.

I am just back from the Dassault Systèmes (3DS) annual Analyst Meeting in Paris. It appears that they are on the path to success, with a continuing stream of acquisitions that are adding to the breadth of capabilities both in products and in human resources. They are working on visible projects such as The Living Heart, which I mentioned last fall, on Smart Cities that can foresee the impact not only of disasters, but of daily traffic patterns, and on driverless cars such as the Link & Go developed by engineering firm AKKA Technologies.

Perhaps most to the point, all of Dassault Systèmes’ industry teams are releasing Industry Solution Experiences (ISEs) made up of Industry Process Experiences (IPEs). These truly go beyond the typical borders of a single discipline or software application. Relatively newly acquired software such as Apriso for manufacturing, Accelerys for materials science, and Quintiq for supply chain planning and optimization are being built into these suites. ISEs are beginning to capture the imagination of executives in those industries.

These do address burning issues in their industries. There are many more in each industry, but for example:

  • Aerospace & Defense: Sub-tier Supplier Solution
  • CPG & Retail: Perfect Package and Perfect Shelf
  • Energy Process & Utilities: Optimized Plant Construction, Safe Plant Engineering
  • High Tech: Smarter, Lighter, Faster for mechatronics and Silicon Thinking for semiconductor
  • Industrial Equipment: Simple Solution Selection for marketing and Single Source for Speed to design and make anywhere
  • Life Sciences: Licensed to Cure for BioPharma and Medical Devices to ensure smooth product lifecycle including submissions
  • Marine & Offshore: On-time To Sea, Solution for Marine Suppliers
  • Transportation & Mobility: Smart, Safe and Connected, Lean Green and Compliant

3DS has recognized that these and other non-manufacturing industries face challenges that traditional applications plus BI cannot easily solve. Offering broader solutions like ISEs goes a long way toward painting a vision for the customer and putting together key pieces to facilitate bringing that vision into being in a company. They also announced a partnership with Accenture for retail & consumer goods, and a plan to expand relationships with Accenture and Deloitte to support the change management needed for such expansive projects.

A cornerstone of how 3DS is building these solutions is with the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform. One nuance around the platform that came forward for me during the event is that it’s not that every application must conform to integrate into it. It’s more that the data from various application software will flow into the platform to deliver a “single version of the truth” with a consistent look and feel.

The bad news is: This does not solve the integration issues to support specific cross-disciplinary business processes. An experience for a customer, and thus an ISE, nearly always includes process flows that cross applications, so there will still be integration needed.

The good news is: This does solve the challenge of enterprise data search, usage and analytics that plague most companies today. This is a foundation for disciplines beyond those in the application workflow to mine the data effectively for decision-making insight. Also, it is a much more realistic vision than using the platform as either a 3DS proprietary standard or an integration hub for process data flows.

This company ranks strong in vision, has been good with its acquisitions, and is ensuring they have minimal direct competition. They are still getting their feet under them as a marketing and sales organization. Yet that is common in software companies selling into production industries, not unique to this one that had someone else doing that for many years. They could leverage their SolidWorks property more fully if the channel were not so separate and different, and their real Achilles heel is a legal organization that appears to be cautious enough to occasionally scare away customers (and nearly very small suppliers like yours truly…).

Those however are nits, and this company is up to big things. Overall, the company is an amazing testament to how to set vision and move toward it effectively. There is much to do (and always will be if they continue as visionaries), but Dassault Systèmes is moving rapidly and surely to do it. They are being rewarded with extremely fast sustained growth both organically and from acquisitions.

Experiences are meant to be unique and memorable – and Dassault Systèmes is both of those!

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