Early this year Dassault Systèmes (DS) announced their future strategy called 3DExperience and it is only now after their two major events, the 3DExperience forums in the US and Europe, that the discussion has started around the meaning of 3DExperience.
In February, I thought 3DExperience was just a new marketing approach from DS to differentiate themselves from other vendors. A little more 3D, PLM has a bad connotation and as some of the newcomers redefined what is PLM, it made sense to be different again..
One of my fellow European bloggers, Yoann Maingon started a discussion with his provoking blog post: Different Marketing Strategies And Naming in PLM. Read the post and specially the comments from Jim Brown and Joe Barkai, who bring perspective to this post. In addition this post got traction in some closed LinkedIn PLM groups and it was interesting to observe that different interpretations of PLM created somehow the same feeling that I have with religion.
Stay with the book and the definition of PLM and complete your portfolio was the message. But which book and what is PLM ? Even if I would write the book: “The Truth about PLM”, who would consider my book as the authority.
We have learned from religion that concepts based on a book can lead to wars.
I am sure PLM will not go into that direction and it remains important not to focus on the definition of PLM, but at the end you want your customers (current and future) to be more efficient, more innovative and profitable. And in order to achieve that, you need to look at the whole process, starting with market interaction and delivery to the customer.
And for that there are many tasks to perform in a company. During your sales process, you need to make sure you address in the best manner the demands from the customer or market, so you can differentiate yourself from others. It can be based on your track record (best in class since 1845), your price (always the cheapest as you manage the process efficient) or your experience (the price and the good feeling it gives justifies the decision)
What has become clear in the past ten years is that we are in a global, changing market and specially traditional companies struggle to make a change which is future oriented. Customer loyalty was in the past based on the fact that you were in the same region, later the same country, but now everyone is shopping or sourcing around the world. Traditional markets and business are no longer secure.
So companies have to change and to my opinion one of the most important changes they have to go through is managing all information in their company (and from outside) in a shared manner. Products can no longer be defined without taking into account feedback and interaction from the market. Trends (positive or negative) related to your company or products need to be followed as they can kill or hype a product or your company.
To realize this change a company needs to start working different and this leads at then end to the need for different tools to support your changing processes. Here I see PLM systems coming into the picture. And here there are the two approaches: will you be selecting a single vendor with the richest PLM platform, or will you integrate a set of best in class applications. As we saw in the Tech4PD discussion there is no ultimate decision here.
I see the 3DExperience strategy from DS in this light. The classical scope of PLM tools and practices does not provide a base for the current and future markets. The solution is bigger than tools, it is the focus on the total experience (I could not find another name either).
It is a way to become attractive for your customers and not focus only on the product but also the way you can influence your potential customers to choose your product or service above others. DS call this the new era of 3DExperience, others will market it different.
In a consumer market we select products based on experience. Has anyone ever tried to justify the purchase of an iPad as an affordable device they need for their work ?
It is the experience.
There is one thing I dislike from the 3DEXperience approach. Blogging becomes expensive, as writing down the word 3DExperience – a mix of numbers and characters – slows down my efficiency. I prefer 3DE or3DX as the most efficient set of keystrokes related to a TLA.
To my opinion PLM is not dead at all for DS. They just market the bigger picture different to be different from the classical PLM platforms. All PLM vendors have their unique marketing approach. Companies need to define what is their next step to remain in business and they are afraid for the old PLM, due to the horror stories – complexity, expensive, etc.
Is it selling experiences or perhaps is it making sure a new generation of workers will be motivated to work for your company. It remains a mix of classical PLM functionality, but it is also big data, social media and more interactive and friendly interfaces which are expected.
Finally one observation from the 3DExperience forum in Brussels where I believe they could have done a better job. Usually when customers and prospects go to this kind of events, they want to hear that they have chosen the right software provider. So it should be a mix of assuring them they are not alone (many others have chosen our solutions) and excited by the future vision your vendor has. Here they message that all companies need to sell experiences in the future otherwise they will be a commodity created a bad mood. Fear does not push people to change, it paralyzes people.
Conclusion: Dassault Systemes new 3DExperiences is understandable as a way to introduce a bigger picture than PLM alone. If every company needs THE EXPERIENCE approach has to be seen. In addition I believe DS still needs to work on more understandable examples where the 3DE approach is a differentiator. For sure there is PLM inside