How to compete with Solidworks

How to compete with Solidworks

Worldclass Access blog by Ralph Grabowski caught my attention earlier today. The article says – Dassault on why Solidworks sells so much better brings few interesting data points.

The first one is about Solidworks growth:

Jay Vleeschhouwer from Griffin Securities: Let me start by asking about the continued momentum you’ve had with Solidworks . It had a very good 2016, particularly in terms of new license momentum, and that’s continued now through the first three quarters of this year. And at least by our calculation you’ve been able to sustain an annual run rate of new licenses at well over 60,000 new licenses, well above the rest of the peer group.

Another one (actually the answer) from Bernard Charles of Dassault Systemes. Together with changes in Solidworks business model and partnership, he put an accent on what was an important component of recent Solidworks success. And it is about visibility of Solidworks on the cloud. Here is the passage:

There is a third aspect. We have provided … visibility about the future of Solidworks, namely connection with the 3DEXPERIENCE platform as one; second, the future of Solidworks through a browser, which is really something really important for our clients, even though they want — they love Solidworks on desktop. And third, Solidworks truly on the cloud, and I think the fact that they now see this as part of a credible and visible plan in some way accelerate for them the will to expand their install base.

I’ve been recently publishing few articles about Solidworks and cloud based on the information I captured at Develop 3D Live event in Boston. Read more here – Develop3D Live: Solidworks and Solid Edge cloud trajectories and here How to choose between Solidworks ENOVIA R2017x and Solidworks Manage 2018.

Solidworks is a great product. I was scratching my head thinking how to compete with Solidworks? What is a weakest point of Solidworks strategy? What strategy can create a force capable to stop growth of Solidworks in the future?

As much as I was impressed by Solidworks recent presentations and video demo cloud Solidworks xDesign and new features of Solidworks 2018, I think the Achilles heel of Solidworks is data management and cloud. Here are 3 reasons why I think so:

1. After almost 10 years of cloud-related development, Solidworks and Dassault didn’t introduce any viable cloud vault storage and collaboration solution. xDrive was promised 2 years ago, but I haven’t heard about it long time. GrabCAD was another most promising vendor neutral platform to store and share Solidworks files,but after Stratasys acquisition it doesn’t seems like a strategic place Solidworks users can trust.

2. Solidworks PDM doesn’t seem to have any visible cloud strategy (if you know about something, share please). A new product – Solidworks Manage, even tagged “Distributed Data Management” has nothing common with cloud. So, Solidworks will be lagging in anything related to cloud data management and global real-time collaboration for long time.

3. 3DEXPERIENCE Solidworks data management and collaboration solution looks like no starter and functionally  overlap new Solidworks Manage 2018. Check my article here. 3DEXPERIENCE is too complex to serve Solidworks users. Read more here – What is wrong with D3EXPERIENCE and ENOVIA?

I think most of Solidworks users are very happy with Solidworks core product. It has everything engineers need, it is mature and Dassault Systemes is consistently sending messages to confirm that core desktop product won’t be killed or damaged by new CATIA based or cloud development. However, Solidworks users are still storing files and other data on desktops and company servers. It seems to be a bad strategy for 2017. What Solidworks can offer to users that want to work everywhere? The answer I’ve heard at D3DLive Boston was – Solidworks xCAD public beta next year (2018) and the product following year (2019). And what about Solidworks PDM? Not much… There is no visible cloud-based PDM solution for Solidworks and it seems not planned at all. 3DEXPERIENCE for Solidworks is still a dream, in my view.

What is my conclusion? Cloud and cloud data management are Solidworks achilles’ heel. In the best case, Solidworks xDesign will be available in 2019. Soldiworks PDM is stuck in pre-cloud era. Solidworks Manage is another product with old client-server architecture. It is not a problem today, but it will be an issue tomorrow. As world is getting more connected, Solidworks users will be stuck using files to collaborate and old PDM products to manage data. Online data management, cloud collaboration and other downstream applications can be a a way to introduce a solution for large group of Solidworks users today and win over Solidworks in the future.  Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Want to learn more about PLM? Check out my new PLM Book website.

Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing cloud based bill of materials and inventory management tool for manufacturing companies, hardware startups and supply chain. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.

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  • Josh M

    Spot on, as always, Oleg. One thing to remember though. A lot of companies are ‘stuck in a pre-cloud era’ too. But like you say, an issue tomorrow. Having trouble echoing, or recognizing, what Bernard is saying. If anything is expanding install base for customers, it’s demand from top-line growth after reigning in the bottom-line. Not ‘credible and visible plans’. ya know, those forward-looking statements.

  • beyondplm

    Josh, thanks for your comment! I agree- many companies are stuck in pre-cloud. But digital transformation will come to them sooner then later. All these companies will have to figure out how to communicate and file-based communication is far from an ideal. So, whoever will provide a digital bridge to companies stuck in pre-cloud era, will hold a key to the process of transforming Solidworks to the next cloud thing.