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One-to-One: Dassault Strives to Make 3D Accessible to All in the SMB with V6


I had a chance to talk with…the Dassault Systemes team about their recent V6 product release.  They reinforced their key messages during the conversation: SOA based on a single data model, powered by ENOVIA, leveraging 3D as a media.  They also continue to speak of PLM 2.0, referring to the maturation of PLM from an engineering workgroup application to a value chain wide new product development and launch platform. I agree with this assertion – PLM has evolved in recent years to include the front end of innovation, product portfolio management, and direct materials sourcing. I always believed these were aspects of the PLM footprint, but organizations still approached each aspect of the product lifecycle in a siloed fashion.  Now with this release, these tenets are accessible to the small to mid-sized businesses (SMB) as well.

What does V6 Offer?

The key focus of the V6R2010 (V6) announcement is SMB (V6 PLM Express), the current incarnation of the SMARTEAM/CATIA bundled offering. Much like Siemens PLM and PTC, Dassault saw great success in the mid-market in 2008 so hope to build on that momentum with this release.  Basically, the goal is to open up the V6 platform – and “key PLM 2.0 values” – to the mid-market.  So what are these values?  There are the six points they espouse:

  • Global collaborative innovation
  • 3D lifelike experience across the value chain
  • One platform enabling the federation of knowledge
  • Online creation and collaboration – product authoring and collaboration over the web
  • Ready to use PLM processes, by role and industry
  • Lower cost of ownership and operations support

Much like other PLM vendors (e.g. Oracle), Dassault has focused their current release on enhancing the user experience.  V6 provides design (CATIA LiveShape), collaboration (3DVia composer pro), and simulation (SIMULIA DesignSight) to non-technical users, and offers role-based consumption of product information. The company has also further developed their systems engineering capability, by enabling building of component libraries to enhance reuse, and enhancing modeling capabilities.  There are five role-specific interfaces within v6: shape design, mechanical engineering, equipment engineering, machine engineering, and project team members (i.e. non-engineers).  Appropriate capabilities are presented in the user interface depending on role: industrial designers may have access to modeling and basic simulation, mechanical engineers have access to detailed design functions, and manufacturing process planning, and other members of the product launch team could have collaboration, sourcing and review capabilities.  New product development information (whether from other CAD tools, or enterprise applications) is presented through 3DLive, Dassault’s web collaboration application.

How Does V6 fit into the PLM Ecosystem?

The six values Dassault speaks of are pretty much the same messages all large PLM providers have with their most recent product releases, although Dassault does place more emphasis on leveraging 3D across PLM processes and roles.  The challenge with this is convincing manufacturers who just want to arm their engineers with PDM and CAD that there is indeed value in sharing 3D visuals with marketing, field service, and suppliers (as Dassault says, “3D for all”, or in Autodesk‘s words, “democratizing 3D”).  I absolutely think there is value in this, whether for a large or small company. Marketing would be able to create more compelling promotions, leading to increased revenue. Field service would be able to respond to product quality issues more effectively, leading to happier, more loyal customers. Suppliers would be able to collaborate on new product designs and provide the most effective parts or materials.

What Else Does V6 Offer?

Two other key areas which Dassault has made a conscious effort to address are making the transition of V4 and V5 customers to V6 easier (with multiple “transition scenarios” from version co-existence to complete migration), and ensuring V6 is open so existing investments in tools and other enterprise applications can be leveraged, and data can be federated across the value chain. These two points alone will be key to accelerating acceptance of V6.

So that’s what I hear from Dassault. What do you think?


  1. Just responded to some comments on my Manufacturing Business Technology blog on this same topic. I will summarize here, but to read the full discussion thread please visit the post on MBT at: http://www.mbtmag.com/blog/PLM_and_Profitability/18613-One_to_One_Dassault_Strives_to_Make_3D_Accessible_to_All_in_the_SMB_with_V6.php.

    In short, an ex-SmarTeam employee was informing me that the SmarTeam product is being discontinued. In response, a Dassault representative responded with his perspective on why SmarTeam lives on. I won’t try to recreate their words here, but let me share my response with you:

    Thank you for the inside story and for the updates. I have always had a lot of respect for SmarTeam (the people and the product) and felt it served a very good purpose by providing a strong, supply-chain-oriented PLM offering. This was true in the small to mid-sized businesses, but also for some larger businesses. But I also understand the need for Dassault to move toward a common solution. This is the reality of the software business. I am hopeful that the SmarTeam employees find new opportunities quickly. My true hope is that they will create new, innovative solutions that extend the offerings of the larger PLM vendors in new, interesting, and valuable areas. For SmarTeam customers, I hope that those that choose to transition will find the transition a positive one. I wish them the best, change is never easy. I also hope that Dassault will make the customer transition as painless as they can, by supporting V5 and helping customers transition to V6 if they choose to. Dassault would do well to keep those customers happy and in the Dassault customer family. This day had to come, I hope that everyone involved can make the best out of it.

  2. I agree with your comments that change is certainly difficult, and even more so when people lose their jobs. I too hope that the people at SmarTeam that were let go are able to find new opportunities – they are a VERY talented development group.

    That being said, I think the consolidated V6 approach is a good and healthy one for Dassault. To be able to take the best of SmarTeam, VPLM, and MatrixOne, at some point they needed to centralize development. The good news is that it sounds like V6 is still going to have VPLM, MatrixOne, and SmarTeam DNA baked in, even if those old product brands eventually die.

    The other detail that seems to be overlooked in some of the discussion about this is how V5 is being affected. Since V5 is by no means a dead platform (we hear that development will continue for several years), it is important to mention this. As far as I can tell, V5 development is still right on track, and driven by the same team in Israel.

    We’ve had our own conversations with some folks at Dassault about this topic, and hopefully you’ll find some other useful information here: http://www.razorleaf.com/2009/07/enovia-changes/