Dassault: PLM’s future includes social networking in 3D
Dassault Systemes (DS) is pushing further with its vision of making the virtual world better reflect the real world, and demonstrating what "PLM 2.0" can accomplish. At its 2009 customer conference, CEO Bernard Charles and his team "painted a very different picture of PLM than what some have in mind," reports Jim Brown, president and founder of Tech-Clarity, an independent research and consulting firm. Brown attended the conference, and came back with this report.
Brown says a demo of Dassault’s 3DVIA software and a new iPhone application was a great example of the uniqueness of the DS vision. That vision has Dassault expanding beyond the aerospace and automotive sectors where the company traditionally has concentrated. At the conference, Charles demonstrated how moving Dassault technology to platforms like the iPhone is taking the company into new areas.
Using his iPhone, Charles took a picture of the furniture on the stage, and then added a table from the 3DVIA library. Not satisfied with the boring table, he sent the model via e-mail to a designer who modified it into 3D shape. Charles published the remodeled shape back to 3DVIA, pulled it up on the iPhone, and "now we see a picture of the stage with a newly modeled table along with the existing furniture. The punchline is that ‘3D opens the door to the world we imagine.’ Not a standard main-stage demo for a PLM company," says Brown.
"DS has a very unique view on what the future will look like. And they have plans to play a broader role than CAD, CAE or product design," says Brown. The company’s vision of what the future of PLM looks like includes:
3D lifelike experiences, dubbed "see what you mean (SWYM);
User-generated content and involvement — "from Consumer to Consum’Actor";
Business processes — core processes for 11 industries and about 50 industry sub-segments; and
PLM online for all, meaning Web-based and service oriented architecture (SOA) based exchange of information.
Brown says to expect Dassault to push the 3D experience hard, and don’t expect them to limit the use of 3D and lifelike experiences to an engineering audience. In the manufacturing industries, expect to see them continue to offer 3D applications for new areas such as sales and marketing.
"DS sees itself playing just as much of a role helping companies to define the product experience (packaging design, shelf placement, consumer interaction) as it does defining the product itself. It has already brought solutions to market and has done some work (not commercial product yet) in areas such as eye tracking technology to analyze customer reaction and behavior," adds Brown.
Keep your eyes on Dassault’s 3DVIA brand and how it fits in with ENOVIA, the backbone solution for collaborating around product data that is part of the Dassault product suite, says Brown.
"These solutions have potential in many industries other than manufacturing (or even gaming, another current DS market), with the opportunity to enhance the Web to incorporate lifelike experiences.
Again at the customer conference, Charles noted that the Web "does not have emotion or allow people to experience or interact." What is needed, he explained, are 3D and smart objects that offer realistic simulation and comply with the real-world rules of physics.
Brown said called that "a very different vision for PLM than I hear elsewhere."
Dassault plans to push into more social aspects of innovation as well, Brown says, noting that Charles told the story of how social networking techniques are helping within Dassault.
"I don’t think they have it all figured out—which I respect," says Brown. "As I have seen in the past, DS is willing to experiment and learn (as their customers are learning) to leverage new social computing technologies."
Brown believes social computing is a significant new evolution of PLM, and so apparently does Dassault.
"A year ago, I would have said social networking software is an add-on, now it is at the core of what we do," said Charles. However, Dassault also continues to invest heavily in its core solutions, including the V6 platform because, adds Brown, "CAD and CAE are not the static, mature solutions some would like to believe they are."
More of Jim Brown’s insights are available through his blog, PLM and Profitability, found on www.mbtmag.com .