Al Bunshaft, once an IBM executive, now calls Dassault Systemes (DS) his home. Last October, when DS decided to buy IBM’s product lifecycle management (PLM) salesforce, Bunshaft, IBM’s VP of PLM sales at the time, joined the new owner. This April, six months after he shed his IBM skin, he became DS’s managing director of Americas. Last week, at DS Customer Conference 2010 (DSCC 2010), Bunshaft was the master of ceremony, shepherding the program and keeping time.
It seems the PLM industry itself is ready to shed its old skin. After three decades of pedaling enterprise visions (and software suites as a means to realize those visions), DS re-engineers itself as the company to bring you “lifelike experiences.” One aspect of that transition is to promote the use of 3D assets created in DS products like 3DVIA, CATIA, and SolidWorks in the same way their physical counterparts would be deployed in real life (for example, using the digital model of a purse that can be rotated, inspected, and opened to sell the purse itself). The other aspect of the transition is to promote the use of social media-like platforms for brainstorming, concept analysis, and project management, just as you would perform these tasks in real life through interpersonal relationships.
“Social innovation and collaboration — we’re part of it, and we think you should be too,” said Bunshaft, a former PLM salesman, in his opening address at DSCC 2010.
DS is currently beta-testing (closed beta, by invitation only) 3DSwYm, a web-based platform for community development and management, targeted at businesses. (Think of it as project management and professional collaboration via enterprise-level Facebook.) Though details about how it’ll be marketed or how much it’ll cost to sign up, Bruno Delahaye, DS’s VP of ENOVIA, revealed the company plans to offer Swym-related services under the SaaS (software as a service) model, hinting at subscription rather than perpetual licensing. (DS’s rival PTC is similarly promoting what it calls social product development, complemented by PTC Windchill SocialLink software.)
Since social media-facilitated interactions tend to generate unstructured data (discussion threads on the strength of certain materials, for example) rather than structured data (3D CAD models and bills of materials), DS hopes its search engine Exalead will give its applications an edge.
In June, DS acquired Exalead, the French search engine that caters to enterprises, for about €135 million (U.S. $166 million). “With Exalead and its partners, we can provide a new class of search-based applications for collaborative communities,” said DS CEO Bernard Charles. Earlier this year, at the user conference for DS subsidiary SolidWorks, DS gave attendees a glimpse of 3D SwYm.
DS is not only pitching social innovation but also using it within its R&D and customer relationship management efforts. The first functional community hosted on SwYm is DS’s own user community for DraftSight, a free 2D drafting and drawing program.
For more, watch the slide show from the conference below: