For the last 20 years, Solidworks built a great product and eco-system of users. They are innovative, energetic and loyal to Solidworks brand. Solidworks became de-facto standard in many places for mechanical design and engineering. Students are learning Solidworks in colleges. Solidworks is almost an automatic choice for many engineering and manufacturing teams , both large and smalls.
At the same time, Solidworks data management was always a weak spot in Solidworks portfolio. Solidworks developed or acquired data management solutions in a very reactive way. It was an answer on demand of customers looking how to manage CAD files, revisions, work in multi-site environment, etc. A solution is usually an answer on a desperate needs to improve data management function. You can call it strategy, but I’m not sure it was a such thing as Solidworks data management strategy in place. The result is creating a massive set of PDM offerings historically collected from products developed by Solidworks and acquisitions. Check my earlier blog – How many PDM systems, Solidworks customers need?.
Sometimes, diversity can solve a problem, but it was not a case for Solidworks. Therefore, for the last few years, we’ve seen how Solidworks started to transform its data management portfolio by discontinuing products and rebranding existing one. In such a way Solidworks Workgroup PDM was phased out, new Standard PDM was introduced as a reduced version of Enterprise PDM (formerly PDM Professional and also known as Conisio). It created lot of questions about future trajectory of Solidworks data management.
Solidworks is taking a next step to answer on customers demand with Solidworks Manage, which is rebranded product developed by RevZone (long time Solidworks partners). Check more in my earlier article with more information RevZone and all previous Solidworks PDM acquisitions. But, I can see it very much consistent to the last 2 decades of Solidworks data management. Customers are demanding to manage BOM, projects, configurations, processes and not only Solidworks files and it was nothing in Solidworks and DS portfolio to fit Solidworks customers need.
So, what is Solidworks Manage? It is a mature and comprehensive data management product with years of history and customers. It provides lot of useful functions and features – bill of materials management, project management, workflow, charts, reports, etc. And it is integrated with Solidworks PDM professional.
What is Solidworks Manage position in the market? It is an interesting question in my view, and I’ve been following it during recent conferences and articles. Historically, Solidworks customers are allergic to the word “PLM”. So, to position it as PLM would be not a good thing for Soldiworks. Moreover, it can create an additional conflict with Dassault Systemes Enovia portfolio. So, Solidworks decided to focus on “enterprise data” – Distributed Data Management. And, here is a new buzzword – Going beyond PDM.
My attention was caused by the article speaking about importance of data for the rest of enterprise – Finding New Ways to Leverage Data Throughout the Enterprise published on Solidworks corporate blog.
Manufacturers, in particular, benefit from and, therefore, must protect their most valuable asset: IP. So the ability to easily share this data throughout the enterprise as well as with outside partners, and yet also simultaneously safeguard this valuable data, is often paramount to success. What makes access to this data and the high-level visibility it provides is the fact that it’s often buried within its departments, databases and systems.
Breaking down these traditional data silos, SOLIDWORKS Distributed Data Management (DDM) solutions, which include SOLIDWORKS PDM and the newly introduced SOLIDWORKS Manage, tap and present the underlying data in specific silos in formats that make it easier for other enterprise-wide applications to utilize it. DDM distributes data to internal and external users by providing access to the most up-to-date information, leveraging PDM data beyond product development, enabling manufacturers to accelerate and support other critical applications that can leverage product data.
While data management is a good and neutral term, the question about roles and functions of Solidworks Distributed Data Management is an interesting one and requires clarification. What is actually “distributed” in Solidworks Manage? You might think about companies? Suppliers? Locations? Not as I can see. Distributed is a name used to emphasize multiple islands of data (silos). Which is actually the idea behind all PLM products. I have many open question about Solidworks Manage trajectory as a technology and product. Is it a long term solution or a bridge to the future 3DXPERIENCE platform? What integrations are available now and will be available in the future. How it will connect to other data management solutions developed by Dassault Systems – 3D Experience, xDesign, etc?
What is my conclusion? Solidworks data management is a sandwich of technologies acquired during many years and layered to provide solution to a growing demand of customers looking how to manage the most valuable assets in the company – IP (data). Solidworks Manage is not PDM, but also not a PLM solution. It is mature and sophisticated enough to serve needs of larger companies, but is it agile and nimble to be a solution for Solidworks mainstream applications? Complexity of products and projects raise the bar and traditional PDM might not be a good answer anymore. “Beyond PDM” is a good marketing for Solidworks. RevZone technology is well integrated with existing PDM layer, but will it scale? Manufacturing companies in 2020s might might require new type of data management, different from 20 years old products. Just my thoughts…
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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.