For many Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software suppliers, the frenzy around IoT presents an enticing emerging market. By providing IoT services for connecting and monitoring products in the field, PLM suppliers can deliver on the promise of complete lifecycle management. This sentiment was echoed by PTC’s CEO Jim Heppelmann at the LiveWorx 2017 conference when he said, “IoT is PLM” and it’s the driving force behind Siemens’ IoT platform: MindSphere. As two of the world’s largest PLM suppliers, PTC and Siemens are positioning IoT as an integral part of their value proposition. It makes sense. Having said that, I was a bit surprised when Dassault Systèmes’ CEO Bernard Charlès bluntly dismissed the strategy at this year’s Dassault Systèmes Analyst Conference when he said, “We want to source the data with the 3DExperience platform, but it’s not our job to collect it. We want to focus on the business experience.”
The word “experience” is one you will hear often when talking with Dassault management. Over the past five years the company underwent a substantial transformation as it unified its portfolio of autonomous brands within a cohesive cross-brand strategy. The culmination of this transformation is Dassault’s 3DExperience platform. Now that the Dassault brands have been integrated onto the 3DExperience platform, the company has shifted its message from selling point-solutions to selling curated software packages, marketed as “Industry Solution Experiences”. In doing so, Dassault leverages its extensive portfolio to provide customers with workflows and processes powered by the platform and designed to meet specific industry needs.
Andy Kalambi, the VP of the 3DExperience Platform, said during the Analyst Conference, “the challenge is not technology anymore, it is the people”. He continued by explaining that Dassault’s platform strategy is addressing the “friction” in product development (or any business process) that exists within teams and between various roles of an enterprise. It is a human-centric approach to digital transformation and that laser-focus on the human experience is why Dassault is content watching the battle of IoT platforms from the sideline. IoT won’t displace the core business processes that Dassault is targeting, it will augment them. But as much as IoT will benefit these processes, there is still an essential human, social component that has been largely ignored and needs refinement to utilize modern technology to its full capacity.
When asked about the effects that digitalization will have on jobs, CEO Bernard Charlès spoke about the opportunity for empowerment. Right now, engineers are frequently doing things that they shouldn’t. These relatively low-level tasks, that can take hours out of their day, could be delegated to technicians. Bernard envisions that, with the help of the 3DExperience platform, blue-collar workers become “new collar” workers, eating the low-level engineering activities and relieving engineers to focus on higher level work. With that in mind, it makes sense that Dassault Systèmes, a perennial leader in the PLM space, has decided not to compete in the IoT services market. Dassault sees IoT data as a resource to be consumed, like a utility, not as a means to differentiate their product. For Dassault, the experience is what counts.