Will Dassault Systemes build a platform for small manufacturing companies and make it available for Solidworks users?

Will Dassault Systemes build a platform for small manufacturing companies and make it available for Solidworks users?

PLM for SMB is a long time dream of PLM minded community. Check articles online to see it is actually what PLM vendors are looking for. Here are just few snippets.

Nancy Johnson (in Cadalyst) article The Democratization of Manufacturing and PLM Software

Manufacturing is becoming faster, more agile, and increasingly accessible to organizations of any size or level of expertise. And PLM software is following suit, delivering simplicity, flexibility, and affordability that brings it within reach of SMBs and allows them to tap the benefits of a technology that previously was too complex, too rigid, and too expensive for their needs. Just like the progressive companies that are shaking up the manufacturing industry today, cloud-based PLM is nimble and fast — and changing the game.

Chad Jackson (Lifecycle Insight)  – The Democratization of PLM

Today is a time of dramatic change for software solutions. Larger development organizations, including OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and suppliers, now have more flexibility than ever when it comes to these technologies. But it is also a time of unprecedented accessibility, with small organizations and startups now feasibly accessing the same technologies that were previously reserved for their larger peers. From top to bottom, it truly is a time of democratization.

The PLM solutions that are most accessible are hosted in the cloud, accessed via subscription and provide better configuration. The convergence of these capabilities has a real impact on the democratization of PLM solutions. A range of software is undergoing dramatic changes, but none are transforming as much as PLM solutions. Democratization is finally feasible.

Autodesk made a bold move back in 2012 with their decision to “fix PLM” using cloud computing (https://readwrite.com/2012/03/29/autodesk-uses-cloud-computing/). This article took me back to discussions that happened in that media summit when Robert (Buzz) Kross presented new vision of Autodesk cloud PLM.

PLM is like PDM on steroids, extending the concept to cover “the entire lifecycle of a product from its conception, through design and manufacture, to service and disposal,” as Wikipedia puts it. If you haven’t heard of PLM, don’t feel bad. The category hasn’t exactly set the world on fire. But Autodesk thinks cloud computing can change all that.

At yesterday’s Autodesk Media Summit in San Francisco, the awesomely named Robert “Buzz” Kross, senior VP of design, lifecycle and simulation, acknowledged that “PLM does not have a great history.” The 10-year-old market, he acknowledged, “is still fundamentally immature.” But he claimed that Autodesk PLM 360, which launched late last month, leverages the cloud to finally help PLM fulfill its promise to the enterprise.

I’m no engineer, and maybe that’s why the pitch impressed me. Kross said PLM 360 is specifically designed to go beyond PDM’s engineering focus and bring together all aspects of a product lifecycle, including supply chains, quality management, facilities and so on – and on all platforms. Kross added that it works with existing enterprise business models and practices, and installations take days, not months. And unlike traditional PLM, he said, the cloud makes it relatively simple to set up trial installations.

Fast forward in 2019. Earlier this month at SOLIDWORKS World 2019, Dassault Systemes shared more information about their vision to provide a platform of products (.Works). Check Graphic Speak article –  SolidWorks World returns to Dallas with platform products for SolidWorks, which speaks about Dassault Systemes to introduce new integrated suite of products under the umbrella .works and .delmia.

Dassault Systemes is preparing to expand Solidworks business with 3DEXPERIENCE. Bernard Charles was very vocal about it.


Dassault Systemes made a significant investment in 3DEXPERIENCE development, new cloud based products such as xDesign and xShape. Also invested $425 million dollars to acquire IQMS. All together these products should provide a solution for small manufacturing shops and medium size manufacturing companies.

Here is an interesting passage from Graphic Speak article:

Bernard Charles told the audience that most small and medium size business manage their supply chain, procurement, manufacturing availability, etc., with spreadsheets. Dassault wants to replace the spreadsheets with cloud-based, constantly updated dashboards in much the same way that SalesForce has transformed CMS with its platform that is easily accessible to small and medium size businesses.

The company expects to see new products for the .Works family coming out through 2019 and as we said, the big boom is planned for 2020. Dassault has been planning for this transition for a long time and there’s been considerable restructuring and money spent to make it a success. We’ll see about that. Customers have their own timetables.

What is my conclusion? It is Dassault Systemes’ turn to “fix PLM” for SMB. PLM is good for small businesses if you can afford it. You can think it is a joke, but it is actually not. As much as I can see vendors and analysts are speaking about democratization of PLM, it is not happening. It is possible that something is fundamentally wrong in PLM paradigm stopping companies from applying PLM solutions in small manufacturing companies. Cost of “PLM journey” is still too high from both software and consulting perspective. And finally, simplicity is not there yet. There are lot of space for innovation. Solidworks is a dominant player in the market of “tiny accounts”. Will Dassault Systemes be able to bring 3DEXPERIENCE platform to this space? This is a $1 billion dollar question, because the market is huge. The intention is good, but so it was for Autodesk back in 2012. But it didn’t happen. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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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