Dassault Systemes 3DEXPERIENCE FORUM Europe 2012

I’m in Brussels attending the European edition of the Dassault Systemes 3DEXPERIENCE FORUM. The event is well attended by around 1,200 Dassault Systemes customers and members of the media and analyst community.

Among the Dassault Systemes executives who spoke in the morning plenary session were President and CEO Bernard Charles and Executive VP Industry, Marketing and Corporate Communications. Bernard spent a lot of time explaining the Dassault Systemes 3DEXPERIENCE Platform and the compass used to describe it.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around what this all means. When I do I hope to explain the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform in a subsequent blog post. Or at least what I can make of it. When Bernard showed this slide he proudly said, “There is no reason why the compass can’t be as big as these other logos.”

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Bernard showed an iPad app called Idea Shape. He proclaimed, “This is the entire CATIA kernel on an iPad.

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Monica continued with the messaging of the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform.

She attempted to explain something she called “Social Industry Experiences”.

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If you have read Dassault Systemes press releases you must know that the company has its own way explaining what they want to tell you. The long and short of what I think Monica was trying to say is that customers don’t buy products any more. They buy experiences. As an example, she reiterated something a previous speaker said about how a cup of coffee at a fast food place costs about a dollar and how Starbucks was able to charge up to four times more because of the experience that they created around the act of drinking a coffee. Apparently people enjoy the time they spend at Starbucks.

I think I get Monica’s point. But personally I also think I could come up with a better example than Starbucks. Maybe something like a really nice restaurant. I stand in line at Starbucks like I do at every fast food place, pay for my coffee and walk out with it. Now, if I didn’t have to stand in line then maybe yes, I wouldn’t mind paying four times more. But standing in line and then being mechanically served a pretty normal cup of coffee by someone who would rather be doing something more interesting and financially rewarding isn’t exactly my idea of a good experience.

Monica had a very blunt message for all the Dassault Systemes customers in the audience. She told them that they should stop thinking of selling just products to their customers. But instead think about creating experiences around their products. She warned, “If you don’t then you will be commoditized.

She doesn’t make any bones about detesting the acronym called PLM. Here is how she thinks Dassault Systemes can help its customers move from PLM to something called “Engineered Business Experiences”.

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Personally I have a serious problem with that compass thing that Dassault Systemes has going on with their 3DEXPERIENCE branding. But I’m waiting to learn more about it before I offer my two cents. Maybe there really is something great to all of this and Dassault Systemes is having a hard time explaining it to people. Or folks like me are having a hard time understanding it.

  • chad

    I brew my own coffee put it in a thermos and take it to work. Not much of an experience in this situation. Curious how Dassault Systemes is going to address those that don’t care for the “experience”?

    • The way Monica was speaking I got the impression that everybody cares about the experience nowadays. At least that’s what she was trying very hard to get across to the audience.

      • john evans

        Crichton used similar references to how marketing viewed where people were spending money. The key was that ‘experience ‘ was being used as a tool to convince the market to come off their money, by crafting that experience. In one example, layer of crappy filler at elevated prices all helped the illusion of the experience. Illusion is the key word. Coffee example plays out reality well.

        • Ralphg

          I think you got it right, John: “experience” is just a codeword for “illusion.”

          The head of Dassault marketing comes from the consumer goods industry (P&G?), where they are experts at selling stuff people don’t need.

          I’m thinking of those aroma things that plug into a wall outlet, needlessly smelling up the air and consuming electricity. I’m thinking of Tide endlessly proclaiming itself at being Now Even BETTER at Cleaning, but still can’t get white socks white — after 40 years of marketing.

          • Test

            Oh yeah. But not only Tide, it is the whole industry. 40 years later more or less the cleaning problems remain.

    • hi Chad
      Your very example is actually an experience, but since everything is going smoothly you don’t necessarily realize it. From a functional perspective, the products involved (the brewing machine and the thermos) are doing exactly what you’d expect, i.e. brewing the coffee and keeping your coffee warm. Now think about it. Maybe the company manufacturing the brewing machine has engineered the noise generated during the brewing process, just like noise&vibration is a very precise discipline in the automotive industry. Two different brewing machines could both make great coffee, but would you prefer a silent one or one making the noise of a plane taking off? Now about the thermos: it is keeping your coffee warm fine enough, but what about the material used, is it a material that is ok for food contact? If not, then it could have impacts on your health (like PCB plastics), which is part of the experience (even if this is long term, but that’s part of it). Experience is about products’ impacts on their direct environment (in that case your comfort for the noise, and your health for the material), it goes beyond the sole product functionality.
      Now if we look at how it translates in terms of tools. As far as the functional aspects are concerned, you will probably need Mechanical/Electrical CAD to properly design the brewing machine. And thermal simulation tools for the thermos to maximize its ability to keep liquids warm. But to simulate the experience you will probably need more advanced tools, like systems engineering for the noise simulation, and chemical simulation tools for the material. The latter part is what 3DEXPERIENCE is encompassing.
      Hope this helps 🙂
      Aurelien Blaha, Dassault Systemes

      • Kevin Quigley

        The big question for me is not the feasibility of creating these EXPERIENCES, but rather, the cost and ROI of implementing the systems to deliver them.

        If we take your coffee thermos example, you are talking about 50% of the CATIA v6 platform there, plus others than are not out there yet.

        So let’s say (in current pricing models) around £30k a seat plus ongoing costs (say £10k a year). Add the cost of the designers and engineers (lets suggest a team of 3 so that multiplies to £120k of overhead for software….

        Compare to what we do now.

        using £5k software, so £17k. That buys a lot of physical prototypes.

        3DEXPERIENCE I can see would work for huge projects – cars, aircraft, ships,etc. But for your typical small product a 100% software simulation design process is pointless. Physical prototypes are always required.

  • Kevin Quigley

    Have a big problem with the experience nonsense. If you are selling something that enables an “experience” then fine. But I have scores of customers who sell products that do a job, add value to a process or simply enable the user. These are not “experiences”. These are products.

    So when I here crap like “sell experiences or you will be commoditised” I get angry. It is insulting to the tens of thousands of small businesses out there designing and making these products.

    This week we designed some vaginal speculums for a successful small medical supplier. Perhaps they should market them as the “smear test experience”.

    DS make great products. Great products. It is just the marketing that is terrible.

  • Neil

    So of the 1200 attendees how many didn’t think this was complete BS? I think Bernard and Monica have been ‘experiencing’ too many bubblebaths and aroma therapy sessions or something…

  • Rick

    I’m an engineer and skeptical to “messaging” by nature. But let’s see if this conversation sounds familiar to those of you who say “our customers buy tools, not experiences”.

    When you talk to your customer about your product, they first ask what it costs. Everything afterwards either deals with particular features that they don’t need (and don’t want to pay for) or about how they feel the tool should work. “It’s got to be fast, it has to be easy to use, it has to have these functions, it has to be supported on these platforms…”. When you go through that list, they start to add some extra things. “It would be great if it could also do these things that might be a bit of a stretch, it should integrate into these other tools and it should be able to be part of this bigger list of tasks.”

    Guess what…they are talking about an experience. They want to know about your other products and how things work together, but they have never been allowed to think about experiences. They have been trained to think about point tools and line items. And then they try to connect them together themselves to create an experience.

    What I have found interesting since hearing 3DS focus on experiences is the number of other companies doing the same. The last issue of one of the business magazines that I received had a few articles and ads focusing on experiences (using the word). And the ones that didn’t explicitly say “experience” framed the differentiation of their products by describing the experience of the consumer in using the product.

    Now that you’ve heard the messaging from 3DS, pay attention to all of the companies and products that focus on experiences. It’s real.

    • Neil

      If you ask an aeroplane pilot about his experience of a new plane he might say he had a beautiful flight but that doesn’t tell you anything subjective about it. Was he talking about the weather, the lack of body odour of his flight crew, or does he habitually say that because he is very happy with his pay?? If he is a test pilot is the nice experience he had today enough for him to recommend purchase of a number of planes or would you want him to detail stall characteristics, crosswind landings etc.?
      I think this ‘experience’ BS is nothing but marketing invading where it doesn’t belong. People buy CAD for engineering purposes. They want to do geometry with it. If they are lucky they will get their work done without loudly declaring it to be a POS because of some annoying bug.
      How the software smells in the box or whether the VAR was wearing pink carnation isn’t really that important.
      By all means get real. Listen up to the message you are being given that clearly identifies this is crap.

  • 3d experience is really the best.. and I love them ..