In a press release, Charlès explained that "holistic" 3D experiences will serve as a catalyst for innovation, enabling any enterprise stakeholder to participate in the innovation process. "I am convinced that within this century, people will invent and innovate more than ever before," he said. "We must provide businesses and people with holistic 3D experiences to imagine sustainable innovations capable of harmonizing products, nature, and life."
On face value, Netvibes looks like a real mismatch -- an acquisition target for a big digital media agency or maybe a consumer product giant, but not a 3D CAD vendor. But if you take a closer look, Dassault might just be onto something. Despite early skepticism, product development is likely to get a whole lot more social over time if what's happening in the world at large is any indication. We're not necessarily talking about crowdsourcing, per se, but leveraging the voice of the customer in their own words (not those interpreted by marketing folks gathering early requirements), to influence how a product evolves early in its development cycle.
Building on its pioneering work establishing the concepts of 3D design, digital mockup, and 3DPLM, Dassault is ready to move on to 3D experience, perhaps capitalizing on all the talk in the mainstream business world about customer experience driving the next set of leaders. Framing up the Dassault 3D Experience platform in the context of its existing products, Menghini said ENOVIA and the 3DSwYm (Dassault's online service for creating online professional communities) fall into the social innovation category. 3DVIA, DELMIA, and SIMULIA deliver content and simulation capabilities, and CATIA and SolidWorks make up the 3D modeling aspect of the platform. Netvibes and Exalead (another Dassault acquisition) fit into the area of search.
There are scant details on how the Netvibes technology will integrate into the Dassault V6 technology stack. I suspect as the details unfold, there will be a fair number of skeptics who say social innovation is just not part of the engineering lexicon. Maybe not today, but never say never, especially in this fast-moving Internet world.
This is really interesting, Beth. Obviously Dassault is betting (with millions) that social media -- and its resulting audience -- will play an increasingly larger role in design. They are probably right. Like collaboration, though, it will only pay off if the design community is willing to take in the wider feedback.
Good point, Rob. You can tap into social media venues and let the "voice of the customer" rabble on about product requirements, etc., but if engineers aren't ready, willing, and able to listen, it's a moot point. That said, listening to customer requirements has always been a hallmark of effective product design and this is really no different. It's just a different venue for listening and one where experts say customers are much more willing and comfortable to expose their true voice--not in random surveys or focus groups, which have been how companies traditionally get customer feedback.
I agree, Beth. This is a necessary voice for the design team to hear. In the Made by Monkeys blog, those commenting continually say this information needs to go back to the design team. Of course, there is no mechanism to make that happen. Social media tied to design may create an effective echo chamber.
What strikes me is the talk about delivering "experiences". People do not buy experiences. They buy products. This talk about experiences is all the rage in the software industry these days. In my experience, when someone starts trying to change the conversation in this way their motivation is that they have not competed well in traditional arena. An example of this is with corporate software that I ran into a few years back. We were talking to a customer and our competitor came in with a pricing scheme that stressed value of the software. They waned to customer to tell the customer what the value of the application was to them. This stalled the deal for everyone, but in the end we prevailed. It had just been a tactic to do just that, stall the deal. For one thing, the customer did not necessarily want to tell the vendors what the applicatiion was worth to them. They needed a product to help them dio thier business. Another thing that comes to mind is that the whole tone is that customers do not have an experience today. That does not make sense.
I am not saying, though, that this software will not bring value. Knowing what customers think and getting good and extensive feedback is a good thing. The reality though, is that this will feed into future versions of the product, not some "experience" that they might have.
I understand what you'e saying, Naperlou. It was my understanding that the tool was meant to deliver customer feedback such as, this product doesn't work under these condictions -- much like we hear in the Made by Monkeys blog.
Excellent article. Social media is still a forum that needs to prove itself to some extent. There's no question that interacting with other users is an effective tool for software users. Support forums certainly demonstrate that the ability to ask questions, or report bugs, is an effective way to gain from the experiences of other users. It will be interesting to see how these kinds of tools evolve in the future and how widespread their use is adopted. Some love social media; others consider it largely a waste of time.
I completely agree with Al, about the two ends of the spectrum in terms of how social media is perceived. I think that most engineers would bucket social media in the "not very useful" or "waste of time" category as of now. This particular Dassault alliance is definitely a bit odd, but is in keeping with the firm's overall strategy to blend its engineering oriented software, which has been its staple, with more consumer-oriented technology with the goal of opening up the product development process from a locked door, engineering club function to more of a mainstream endeavor using 3D data as the universal language.
Due to its targeted focus, this type of social media experience may actually have a greater chance of attracting consistent and meaningful discussions. The best social media sites attract interested, knowledgeable people committed to the topic, which can provide an excellent source of news and discussion. Will be interesting to see how these types of forums develop.
This capability will actually allow engineers and others in the product development food chain to tap into what is said about their products (likes, dislikes, requirements, problems, etc) in other social media forums. The idea, according to Dassault, is to capture customer sentiment about the product and the "experience" and then feed that data or intelligence back to those involved in product design so they can consider it in the early stages of development--not after the fact and in reactive mode. Like many cited here, I'm not sure individual engineers will do much or even think much of random "customer sentiment" captured in that fashion. But perhaps having a tool that lets you dial into what customers are thinking/saying might have some impact, especially if the mandate to do so comes from the top.
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