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?