Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »
Experiences and Platforms – Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE FORUM 2016
December 1st, 2016 by Susan Smith
The occasion for the Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE FORUM held in Silicon Valley, Santa Clara, November 11th was the opening of a new office there. The corresponding one-day FORUM event was held at the Levi Stadium, which at times houses the Super Bowl.
Attendees included a mix of customers, media, partners, business influencers, government industry analysts and journalists.
The Paris-based company Dassault Systèmes has traditionally been a mechanical engineering (CAM) software company, with its flagship 3D CAD software CATIA, SOLIDWORKS for product innovation, ENOVIA for collaboration and DELMIA for industrial operations. While AEC professionals may be aware of Frank Gehry’s use of CATIA to generate his complex architectural designs, the use of CATIA or other Dassault products in AEC has not been extensive.
This event showcased some of the new directions Dassault is heading. Topics revolved around experiences and platforms as transformative. The message delivered was essentially how experience is transforming the economic model – not only for products but for the built environment as well.
Bruno Latchague, senior executive vice president, chief strategy office, welcomed guests, saying that North America is especially important to Dassault, and represents 30% of their business. The company has more than 20,000 customers on the west coast and over 600 employees in six offices. The North American west accounts for $3.25 trillion, 16% of total North American GDP.
Globally Dassault has 100,000+ customers across all 12 of the industries they serve. Those industries are on a platform that they embrace.
Transforming the Economic Model
Monica Menghini, executive vice president, chief strategy officer, spoke on “The Age of Experience is Transforming the Economic Model.” “It transforms the way we design, discover, fabricate forever.. Everything has new meaning: design, science, manufacturing, marketing,” Menghini pointed out.
For design, each product will become a portal to deliver something else and to attract and drive participation in an ecosystem. We have products that can gather data and personal information, noted Menghini.
Science is becoming fashionable, said Menghini, and is blending of all sciences and all technologies. We know distinction between natural science and social science.
The way we are producing goods is changing.
Menghini said that “The 3DEXPERIENCE was not designed as an engineering platform, but rather a much bigger, new type of platform was needed where business experience, engineering, manufacturing and marketing can be combined.”
Olivier Ribet, vice president, High Tech Industry, spoke of the value of the Internet of Things and how it is the “internet of experiences.” In his talk “Realizing the Value of IoT,” Ribet talked about how many products finished their life in a box unused. “The reason I stopped using a product was because it was unusable. It was a connectable product but I couldn’t connect it. – 26% of customers say that. How do we rethink the way we invent connected experiences?”
Product needs to be:
Marshall Van Alstyne, Professor at Boston University, Questrom School of Business & co-author of “Platform Revolution”, spoke about the platform revolution, and the change in the business model, shifting the IoT production perspective to the platform perspective. He looked at innovative business models such as Uber and Airbnb. These types of platform companies have created a fundamental shift in business and the economy. Energy and banking are now platform companies, and they all have external ecosystems associated with them.
“Apple represents the giants of demand side of economies of scale, where the product becomes more valuable with use. Windows OS now has 80% of the marketshare. Mobile Android has 87% of the marketshare. In a social network model such as Facebook, users create value for users, so users join, leading to changing management practices. In any market with network effects, the focus of attention must shift from inside to outside the firm,” said Van Alstyne.
You can’t scale network effects inside as easily as outside, and it affects every function. What does change is the marketing. Many customers are now doing the messaging. A prime example is Instragram which had 30 million users, and sold for $1 Billion. It captures information.
What changes: the platform takes supply and demand and splits them and takes them off platform. It captures the good stuff and matches the high quality to the customer. The firm isn’t noticing the value, the outsiders are. And that’s why it scales so fast.
Apple and Samsung make stuff but also cater to external ecosystems.
Airbnb has 40,000 listings alone in Paris; there’s no way Marriott could have that many properties.
Amazon is expert on having third parties build on top of their ecosystem. External people set up their shops on top of Amazon services.
“When you don’t own the marginal cost of production and can scale infinitely, you end up with a very different business model,” said Van Alstyne.
The notion of platform definitely extends to building. Dassault demonstrates a new way of looking at building models and simulation – as a platform.
Bernard Charles, vice chair of the Board of Directors and CEO of Dassault Systèmes, spoke on the topic, “Showcasing the Experience Enterprise.” He pointed out that to we could connect different universes such as the bio world, geo world and other worlds.
Dassault is creating a 3DEXPERIENCECity of Singapore. There is a scale factor, complexity factor, an element of massive integration of existing data and creating a consistent reference of the city, which sounds a lot like a smart city model to me.
The simulation of Singapore looks at city as platform, which then leads to:
“It is just beyond what I thought we could do for them,” said Charles. “The digital world can validate before we actually do things.”
While Dassault is definitely not the only one creating digital cities for their clients, Virtual Singapore sources all intelligent information. They estimate 30% growth by 2030, with a single version of truth used, which they do not call a building information model. “This is useful for doing things right the first time,” said Charles.
The efficiency of a city can be improved with a model of services, emergency services, based on ages of people, being able to index everything around, all information which can be an element to help improve cleaning up the city, provide new citizen experience, reuse of information.
“World leaders are trusting solutions more than the physical world,” said Charles. “It takes a lot of science and technology to make this possible.”
High Tech App for Low Tech Industry
Javier Glatt, CEO and co-founder, CADMakers, Inc. spoke on the topic, “How 3DEXPERIENCE on Cloud Delivers Successful Business Outcomes.” CADMakers Virtual Construction builds automation tools and are digitizing knowledge, delivering a high tech app to a low tech industry.
They are using Mass Timber Technology, possibly the world’s future building material.
This is not a space that CATIA is well known for. Through Frank Gehry, Glatt’s company began to look beyond the design intent world, and what they wanted to do in construction, big assemblies, modeling, computation, and fabrication. There were limited tools for everything and they didn’t do layout drawings so the regular Autodesk products were not useful. “CATIA did more of what we wanted to do,” said Glatt.
“We had to figure out business modeling, detail construction coordination, fabrication, computational. The process by which we deploy a project is different: we don’t write a BIM execution plan. We figure out the most integrative way to work together, they get to work with what they want. They take it into construction. We have to tailor to each specific procurement model using design build.”
While Glatt said they have “No design bias,” the information from all the disparate sources still has to go somewhere to be integrated and useful to all involved parties. They use the out-of-the-box functionality of tools for modeling like CATIA and DELMIA, 3DExperience, 3D Studio, CSharp, and EKL. They also build their own tools used on every single project.
The projects are end-to-end, with Dassault bringing the entire portfolio onto the cloud. 87% of the product lines are available on the cloud CATIA.
In terms of deliverables, what most clients want on the average project are the issues. “The 3D is an excuse to find issues and solve them before they go live,” Glatt said. “There are 3D model deliverables, or assembly drives from the model which they want in 2D. They can get a more competitive price with 2D fabricators if they have a 2D model.”
He said his clients rarely care about Intellectual property, as there is “very little IP in construction.”
“We will redo things, and need to be really precise structurally,” said Glatt. “Most designs don’t go to that level of detail because it’s an intent. It’s a real process problem; we reverse engineer what the real output needs to be. For a façade – we may use a Revit model IFC, but if we were coordinating a whole floor, then we might have to redraw that. In a Tekla production model we would probably never redo it.”
Designing for Contexts that Don’t Exist Yet
In a separate interview, vice president Industry, AEC, Dassault Systèmes, Marty Doscher, talked about the role of AEC at Dassault today.
“There’s a whole lot that’s not being included in AEC,” said Doscher. “Owners are expecting something different, building partners and manufacturers are figuring out how to contribute. They now know they need BIM. But there is another side to the story besides design tools and construction management.”
At Dassault, AEC is responsible for 2% of the total revenue and is one of the diversification industries, closely aligned with energy processing utility.
Doscher worked as an architect at design firms for 20 years before coming to Dassault. On many of the projects he worked on, the design and making of the building were so complex that the only way to do it was to take the design models into a format that can be directly shared with the contractor and fabricator, then take their models and bring them back into the design environment.
Using the Digital Project software from Frank Gehry, built on CATIA, made this possible. “Dassault decided to launch into the AEC industry in earnest and develop the market,” said Doscher. “Gehry Technologies had separated before that. Dassault brought in their own R&D to work on applications, and by the time I joined, the separate was complete. Gehry went to Trimble, and we accelerated our effort to build the whole team around AEC.”
In the last four years, Dassault has built an AEC team on the marketing side, a full AEC team on the R&D side, and are building out worldwide sales and partners.
Doscher was also a customer of other popular CAD software programs. “Clients are demanding more designs, less design fee. They won’t accept design errors, contractors are making a 2% margin, there is nowhere to go,” said Doscher. “You can’t just partially improve, or make ourselves 10% more efficient, it needs to be rethought. Dassault is poised to be the kind of company that can transform, direct where industry will go, like it did for the aerospace industry.”
These are high level expectations beyond what the ultimate deliverable has been thought to be in AEC: 2D or 3D.
“We have big sustainability challenges,” said Doscher. “We can’t just make our buildings more energy efficient, they have to behave as intended. Buildings never behaved as intended, no matter how advanced your design process is or how cutting edge your sustainability strategy is. You would never accept that your car doesn’t behave as it was intended. There is the expectation this is the way the industry is, but we can’t do that for sustainability.”
In discussing the sustainability or livability of cities, it’s not just about making things more efficient. 3DEXPERIENCECity claims to offer a unique user experience to map and analyze “all parts and processes constituent to urban life in a holistic manner.”
“A company in France doing construction want to totally change how they work, the way they connect designers, and process planning and do virtual building, because they want to tap into a new market,” said Doscher. “It’s 30% savings, so per square foot of an apartment you’re going to buy, it’s going to cost 30% less. So they can market to entry level housing that they could never meet before, because with the old processes you just can’t build it, which is why there’s a housing shortage. It’s a new process with new cost and new time frame, so they can build that with 30% of the labor. We’re working in France and the UK with companies that are taking this mindset that totally want to rewrite the way you design, build and the way you deliver to be able to reach new markets.”
Clients for the new Beijing Airport wanted a design that would render it relevant and operational in 30 years. There’s no way to know what modes of transportation will be available in 30 years.
“The only way you can design for contexts that don’t exist is to model the context, simulate the context and design in that,” said Doscher. “I think this is the point of the 3DEXPERIENCECity. This is the meaning of resiliency; while you can’t predict what’s going to happen, you have to design for something happening that you can’t predict.”
To experience an environment, you can do “what if” scenarios. “If you base your simulation on scientific principles such as the way urban environments behave, the way transportation environments behave, this is possible,” Doscher said. “On the topic of sustainability, we’re working with the companies that are taking a more scientific approach to the behavior of the built environment.”