The Age of Experiences

Experience in an airplane flying home over France - expansive horizons!

Experience in an airplane flying home over France – expansive horizons!

Everywhere I go, people are talking about creating experiences. I just stayed in a hotel in the Hilton chain, and their internet log-in talks about creating experiences. I was at this hotel thanks to Dassault Systemes, “The 3DExperience Company.” Dassault is clearly visionary, reflecting its President and CEO, Bernard Charlès. The mission is to “Provide businesses and people with 3DExperience universes to imagine sustainable innovations capable of harmonizing product, nature and life.”

It’s not just a slogan; the company is operating at a breakneck pace to make the vision a reality. Under high-energy consumer products guru Monica Menghini, EVP Corporate Strategy, Industry and Marketing  the company is only just recognizable from 2012. Five years ago it was half the size it is today, and I believe they will meet the goal to double in size again over the next five years.

Dassault’s transition from individual product brands to “Experiences” for the 12 broad target industries is ongoing but rapid. Last year, they acquired a new company on average each month. Some, like scientific innovation enabler Accelerys, had built plus acquired many products themselves. Others like my MES/MOM client Apriso were leaders breaking their industry paradigm.  These companies were creating positive customer experiences already.

While complete integration may take a while, acquired products can appear in a common user interface of the 3DExperience Platform quickly. Industry groups have been building out focused Experiences to solve specific multi-discipline business problems for the past couple of years. Many applications working together as a seamless ‘experience’ make it easier for the users.

Dassault are also making the experience of employees in acquired companies as good and coherent as an enormous $3B company can. For Apriso, for example: no layoffs and executives like my long-time client Tom Comstock being promoted into marketing management for the DELMIA business unit.

Tom’s big announcement: Dassault will tackle the supply chain. The starting point is supply network design and analysis, an industry that was not ready for primetime when I first covered it. DELMIA’s deep modeling and simulation expertise is a promising foundation to make it effective. However, the problem has also shifted. Today companies need to decide where to make and source is much more dynamic.

Visionary companies can drive the market and capture innovators’ imaginations. I believe Dassault is doing just that. At the same time, visionaries have some extraordinary educational and execution challenges. Just because market leaders see they need to move in a direction does not mean they can succeed in doing it effectively.  Or that mainstream companies will follow quickly. Just because Dassault’s customer-facing organization has new Experiences to offer does not mean they can fully create and meet customer expectations.

My experience at their industry analyst conference was one of “drinking from a fire hose” style learning, engaging discussions, outstanding dining and expanding visions. Excitement mixed with a bit of frustration looking out the windows at perfect days with a schedule too packed to enjoy it. I suspect some of the customers will have a similar mix: mostly very energizing, but with some minor frustrations.

The world is such that we cannot always have it all at exactly the same moment. Yet we long for it. This is what vision helps to create – the yearning for better experiences and new ways of working.



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