Alright, so here we are in sunny Las Vegas for the North American edition of 3Dexperience Customer Forum, at which Dassault invites some 900 customers and media -- plus another 2,500 watching online. The conference theme is "If We" -- kind of like, we are limited only by our immagination.
This is a different kind of CAD environment than what I am used to, for it's not much about CAD. Dassault has targetted 12 vertical industries it wants to dominate, such as store marketing, mining, and clothing design. CAD is just one tool available of many.
For this reason, we see sponsor names like Archer Grey and Kalypso that I've never heard of, and ones like accounting firm Deloitte that we don't associate with CAD.
#3dxforum on Twitter
We are hearing from a series of Dassault executives about the company's success. Lots of hugging going on.
Motovational speaker Lynn Tilton of Patriarch Partners makes me feel bad: she has saved so many businesses (she runs 75 companies today) and 250,000 jobs in the USA. She buys failing firms cheaply, and then turns them around. She expressed her frustation that China subsidizes the cost of materials, making it so much more difficult to compete; she mentions a 21-point cost difference. Her secret: compassion and cash, and understanding both intimately: without cash, you can't go very far without compassion. "Make that low-hanging fruit of stupid go away." She knows a lot about running multiple businesses, for someone with a degree in poetry.
Ceo Bernard Charles was pleased to annouce 20,000 companies joined at Dassault customers in the past 18 months. Change does not come from the top, he says, but from people who use the software and make the products.
Two years ago, he says, we asked where we want to be, where we want to be. It was such an intensive process that he nearly resigned from the company. He took six months off to figure out where to drive the company and its 170,000 customer firms. "Our responsibility is not how we sell our next piece of software. This is only the result of you deciding to change your business." Where is the world going, what is our legacy, he wondered? Not just manufacturing processses, but what is your dream? The result was "3Deperiecne platform."
Now he sounds like Autodesk used to talk: there should be no need for physical prototypes. (I supposed Autodesk is changing it tune now that it is hintng strongly it will buy a 3D printer hardware company.)
Mr Charles credits exec vp of communcations Monica Menghini for helping define the Play icon, and other aspects of the company's new diretion.
After the break, we are hearing from customers, such as a Canadian maker of jet engines. But the most surprisingly to me, the most interesting speaker is from MWV. They make cardboard cartons for drinks, especially for beer, shipping 1 billion cartons a year from a paper plant in Alabama. They also manufacture the machines that package bottles in the cartons, 1500 glass bottle a minute or 2400 cans a minutes/
The part that surprised me is that it used to take them 18 months from idea to realization. Dealing with millenial males, who are the primary target of beer breweries, the process has to speed up to less than six months. Indeed, in 1.5 years, that male might have moved on to wine.
"Creative desisng firms come up with designs that cannot be manufactured. We have to design packaging that can be manufactured by our machines. What used to take several weeks now takes a day -- to analze a package to make sure it can be made: number of palettes, number of trucks to ship..."
[Disclosure: Dassault Systemes provided me with airfare, hotel, ground transportation, meals, and corporate gifts.]