During the week of June 20th, Dassault Systèmes hosted their annual Analyst Days event in Paris, France, briefing experts in the industry on their vision for their solutions for today and tomorrow. Our CEO and Chief Analyst, Chad Jackson, attended the event. A significant theme from the event was the growing breadth of the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, which now represents far more than just mechanical CAD and PLM. The following are Chad’s takeaways and observations.

Should you synchronize data into your product development platform?

At the event, Dassault Systèmes shared examples of customers connecting data from our IT systems and sources into the 3DEXPERIENCE platform that exposed unrealized problems. There are interesting implications for the application of artificial intelligence and machine learning to these scenarios.

Should you synchronize data into your product development platform? Dassault Systèmes suggests there’s great value in just such an effort.

Traditionally, PLM solutions have had relatively limited boundaries. They often don’t tread into the realm of other enterprise systems. They’ve focused on supporting design and engineering for hardware development and not much beyond that. But at Dassault Systèmes’ 2022 analyst event in Paris the week of June 20th, a conversation I had with Philippe LAUFER painted some compelling reasons to synchronize data from other enterprise systems into a product development platform.

Laufer’s idea is to synchronize or ingest data from other systems into the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, normalize and connect it to the existing product data and structures, and then perform analytics with artificial intelligence and machine learning. He shared that a number of Dassault Systèmes’ customers had done this with surprising results. The broader, more holistic connection of data across systems revealed yet-to-be-recognized problems that spanned functional departments. Discovering that root cause let those customers take corrective action they would never have otherwise.

What’s my take? Our research shows that complexity has risen dramatically in the last two years. That’s not only true of product complexity but also organizational and process complexity. And every functional department has its own IT systems tracking, managing, and automating work. Of course, those systems are necessary. But employing separate systems results in disconnected information, burying the chance to understand what is happening. These capabilities, the ability to synchronize data from other systems with your product development platform, is a decisive step towards addressing that problem.

Is Dassault Systèmes’ CATIA becoming a modeling environment for all engineering domains?

For some time, design and engineering tools have been separated by domains such as mechanical design, electrical design, and software development. However, the acquisition, breakdown, and integration of design tools from varied domains into the 3DEXPERIENCE platform point towards a future where Dassault Systèmes offers a single modeling environment for all engineering domains.

Is Dassault Systèmes‘ CATIA becoming a modeling environment for all engineering domains?

There’s no doubt that Dassault Systèmes has made some compelling acquisitions and partnerships over the past few years. That was clear from Olivier Sappin‘s discussion at the 2022 analyst event in Paris the week of June 20th, 2022. No Magic, Inc. supplied robust systems engineering capabilities. Acusim delivered vital control system planning and verification functionality. CATIA supports the development of electrical distribution systems. The newly announced partnership with Cadence Design Systems will provide multi-board systems support and perhaps IC development functionality.

Of course, broadening the portfolio is not new in the industry. Others have made similar acquisitions or partnerships. Yet, Dassault Systèmes’ appraoch is different.  Over time, they’re breaking down those offerings and integrating them into the 3DEXPERIENCE platform. CATIA Magic provides systems engineering capabilities from No Magic. CATIA Stimulus provides software support from Acusim. Ultimately, that will look like a single, interconnected modeling environment spanning many engineering domains.

What’s my take? I think it is a differentiated strategy and the right one. Today’s work in different engineering domains is naturally interconnected, whether using one modeling environment or several. Systems engineering requirements should be connected to mechanical, electrical, electronic, and software models. Board systems and enclosure definitions need to be synchronized. The same is true of mechanical assemblies with cables and harnesses. And if those things exist in different applications or systems, then you risk diverging definitions. That can translate into failed prototypes, delayed development schedules, and cost overruns. And this is particularly true in an age where the amount of electronics and software in products is skyrocketing.

Of course, the coverage of all engineering domains is not complete today. And it may take a little time for Dassault Systèmes to get full coverage. But based on our research on the problems with systems development, this is the right approach.

How extensive should your PLM system be?

Acquisitions of ERP and MES solutions as well as organic development of new functionalities has blurred lines with the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, which no longer falls only into PLM. This path opens up opportunities for more seamless integration and digital continuity from lifecycle stage to stage and between functional departments.

How extensive should your PLM system be?

Per Dassault Systèmes, the answer to that question is ‘very broad.’ That is one of my major takeaways from the 2022 analyst event in Paris the week of June 20th, 2022. But note that this wasn’t an explicit theme. No Dassault Systèmes executive stood up and said this was the goal. But their presentations’ thread was clear: They are moving far beyond PLM.

The 3DEXPERIENCE platform has its roots in ENOVIA. Dassault Systèmes acquired IQMS, an ERP solution, in 2019; Apriso, an MES solution, long ago in 2013; and Qunitiq, a supply chain management and operations solution, in 2014. Looking into the platform today, you see that those capabilities have been integrated and have made organic investments beyond PLM. For example, they shared functionality around applicant tracking systems (ATS) typically associated with HR systems. Their vision is to provide a single ‘operating system’ for development that goes from end to end.

What’s my take? I’ve never been a fan of maintaining boundaries between solutions after acquisitions. Many providers acquire a company, set it up as a separate business unit, and develop some minimal, nominal integrations. In my view, that doesn’t deliver exponential value to the customer. Maintaining artificial boundaries between solutions keeps data and information isolated, undermining efforts to solve problems that span multiple functional departments and development processes. Putting the long, hard work to integrate them into one platform takes time but ultimately solves more significant, more complex problems. And I’m a fan of what Dassault Systèmes is doing with the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.

Lifecycle Insights conducts research and publishes guidance for engineering executives. Follow us for more on digital transformation in product development.