The Internet is at the center of the many changes in the way companies operate today and the way they work with customers and suppliers, says O'Connell. And it raises everyone's expectations.
Design News: What is the effect of the Internet on engineering?
O'Connell: People are using the Internet to run their companies and work with suppliers and customers. That trend means many enterprises are becoming virtual companies. E-business is the paradigm. At the center of e-business is exchanging information on products, design, sales, and support with everyone who needs to know it and who can enrich the product. With the Internet, people expect all information to be connected or related. Customers expect that they can point and click and get information. The Internet creates that expectation—that information is more readily available. The Internet also brings speed, and it enables more innovation in products. Companies are looking for more ways to innovate, yet much of their design work is done outside their walls by suppliers and partners. That requires true collaboration—sharing ideas and bringing more ideas into the product-development process. The world of engineering is changing, and the Internet is at the center of the changes.
Q: Is collaboration really new?
A: No, the world has always collaborated. Previously, you could see everyone at your company physically and look at what they were working on. But today, with people working remotely and with outside contractors and suppliers, collaboration isn't like that, and it isn't just sharing data. You have to reach out to component suppliers who are sharing ideas with each other on how they can change features and otherwise affect the design. Moreover, industry measures time to market in days now, not months or years. That makes collaboration more important.
Q: Are there barriers to collaboration?
A: Security—or the perception of security—is a barrier. Companies want to protect their trade secrets. Also, previously there were only point solutions that would handle a piece of the collaboration problem. There are more enterprise-wide solutions now. Security in software is more robust than ever.
Q: What is MatrixOne's strategy in that regard?
A: We try to deliver intelligent collaborative product commerce. First, we let the enterprise continually update its business models. Then, we provide security and let the enterprise create new processes and integrate collaboration.
Q: Who in a company drives the decision to integrate intelligent product commerce?
A: It's usually a team effort led by the head of engineering. GE is a great example of the move to an e-business strategy and intelligent product commerce. The company transformed each of its businesses to be out front on true collaboration over the Internet.
Q: What's really different about what MatrixOne does?
A: At the center of our strategy is an open platform. We want to embrace every application that touches a product. We empower engineers doing software development as well as mechanical and electronic CAD. In addition, we offer a portfolio of applications across the value chain and integrations to leading design tools. We also concentrate on the business process, not just data, and we build in the technology so engineers don't need the IT department to make changes.
| Mark F. O'Connell, President, CEO MatrixOne
Chelmsford, MA O'Connell has been president of MatrixOne since September 1996 and CEO and Director since July 1997. Previously, he was vice president of marketing. He also served at various times as director of software product marketing, director of corporate product marketing, director of workstations and server marketing, and group manager for marketing and sales at the former Digital Equipment Corp.