Talking tech in Paris

Posted on 13 Jul 2014 by The Manufacturer

James Pozzi took the Eurostar to Paris to discover the latest offerings from French software firm Dassault Systèmes at its 3D Partner Experience Forum.

In an exhibition space situated near the Stade De France in the north of the French capital, Dassault held its annual partner experience forum over two days. Having embarked on a tour starting in May through to November spanning 20 countries globally, it was on home soil that the technology firm posed the question: “can we change the way we innovate?”

Under the event tagline “Business in the Age of Experience Together,” the open plan entrance was a testimony to the vast array of projects and endeavours currently being undertaken by Dassault. The Oculus Rift serving as a simulation of the technologies employed in the D-Day landings in World War II was one particular illustration of the old meeting the new.

Monica Menghini, Dassault’s corporate VP, addressed the audience with a lengthy overview of its strategy in action. When discussing its work across a multitude of industrial sectors, one of the key notions was that the customer has changed. Whether it is buying an iPhone or a Nespresso machine as cited by Menghini, the customer is now buying an experience; not just a product. As Menghini alluded to, the game has truly changed.

After a discussion around the customisation set to dominate global manufacturing over the next decade, a dominating theme of the day was the adoption of the cloud. Dassault urged its assembled customers to follow their lead by investing in it. And given the investment figures are claimed to have surpassed over $1bn, then it is a company that means business. Considering there is an estimated $32bn worth of new business that could be accessed as a result, then the cloud investment seems a no-brainer.

But as is often the way with new technologies, and most certainly the cloud given my experience of some manufacturing companies – there is a resistance to change. While the potential of the cloud as a force for increased collaboration and agility is apparent, the fear about storing private data in a remote location persists.

Having acquired American firm SolidWorks back in 1997, one of its first resellers – UK-based NT CADCAM – participated in a discussion panel during the afternoon. CEO Peter Teague, who joined the company in 2000, predicted resellers such as his company would need to slowly manage a transition of customers over towards the cloud.

Closing out the ceremony, company president Bernard Charlès had one adjective on his mind: Love. Without breaking into a Steve Ballmer-style “I love this company” tirade, Mr Charlès paid tribute to the company’s progress since it was founded in 1981. But rather than reflect on past glories, Charlès – at one point adorning sunglasses in reference to a bright future – was firmly fixed on the potential of a market encompassing manufacturing, engineering & design and simulation.

Continuing the cloud focus, Charlès confirmed Dassault has imminent plans to host six private clouds in different locations across the world, predicted to be by the end of 2014. Certainly this platform is going to provide a good illustration of Dassault’s intentions, as there are certainly no shortage of competitors also hoping to utilise this platform for their manufacturing, engineering and design customer bases.