Dassault Systèmes-Expanding Product Development and the 3D Experience

To put it mildly, 2011 was not a great year in almost any respect, except for maybe the modest stock market surge and the Boston Bruins Stanley Cup win. More positive economic news is slow coming, but people are still underemployed, even if they are “privileged” to have a job—a few new burger-flipping or shelf-filling jobs here and there are not much to rave about, no matter how honest the work. December 2011 saw a major economic event in Massachusetts (MA) when Dassault Systèmes, a globally renowned French provider of three-dimensional (3D) design and product lifecycle management (PLM) solutions, officially opened its Americas headquarters in the greater Boston area. The ribbon-cutting ceremony was attended by the company’s local employees, the media, and dignitaries such as France’s Ambassador to the United States (US) François Delattre, Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray, and Dassault Systèmes’ chief executive officer (CEO) Bernard Charles.

Fancy North American HQ

In late 2010, Dassault Systèmes leased 320,000 square feet in the Hobbs Brook Office Park in Waltham—the largest lease in greater Boston that year. Dassault Systèmes’ friendliness to the environment and sustainability was a perfect match with Hobbs Brook Management’s devotion to “green” office practices. This commitment is evident throughout the cutting-edge office complex, which includes a green cleaning program, mature landscaping, high-reflection roofing, preferred parking for hybrid vehicles, and shower facilities for bicycle commuters. The campus setting is on Route 128, with splendid views of the Cambridge Reservoir. The office space features large floor plates and outdoor spaces that foster employee collaboration. The buildings have been certified Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). Building amenities include underground parking, a modern fitness center, and a state-of-the-art cafeteria with outdoor terrace.

Whatever moves Dassault Systèmes makes, they are made with a long-term focus in mind. One of the key reasons for the company’s market share leadership is its focus on the creation and maintenance of a long-term vision, which is apparent in its generous investment in people, a long-term financial model, and its commitment to building a deep knowledge of the industries and customers it addresses. Dassault Systèmes brings value to more than 115,000 customers in 80 countries.

The company has a diverse, highly educated employee base of over 11,000 employees representing more than 90 nationalities. Dassault Systèmes’ current real estate portfolio consists of its global corporate headquarters in Vélizy (outside Paris), France, approximately 40 locations throughout North and South America, and numerous other offices across the globe. The decision to open the Americas HQ in Waltham speaks to the economic opportunity, world-class talent, and innovation that can be found in the Boston Metro area.

Dassault Systèmes had apparently outgrown its existing Massachusetts facilities in Concord and Lowell. Combining the workforce at one location should make collaboration easier. These offices were claimed with the intent to grow—and we are talking here about well-paid professional jobs. During their quick press briefing prior to the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Bernard Charles and Al Bunshaft, managing director of Dassault Systèmes Americas, semi-jokingly remarked that Dassault might be the largest offshore job outsourcer to the US.

Dassault Systèmes has been growing continually, steadily, and strategically for more than 30 years. See the Backgrounder that follows this article for an overview of the company’s history and the development of its major product lines.

Democratizing Design and Expanding Audience via “Lifelike” 3D

The PLM software market as defined by Dassault Systèmes thus far consists of 3D software for product design, simulation, digital manufacturing, product data management (PDM), and collaboration. Indeed, with the digital production planning and modeling application DELMIA, design tools from CATIA and SolidWorks, product simulation and testing application SIMULIA, and ENOVIA PLM products (MatrixOne, SmarTeam, Enginuity, and VPLM), the vendor has all the necessary pieces to round out its PLM footprint. Dassault Systèmes software applications allow businesses to digitally define and simulate products, as well as the processes and resources required to manufacture, maintain, and recycle them while minimizing their impact on the environment.

As the pace of technological change accelerates, companies increasingly depend on their intellectual capital. Perhaps by having all (or at least most) of the product design data in the same format and object design, companies will be able to manage their intellectual property (IP) more seamlessly.

To that end, in 2008 Dassault Systèmes introduced Version 6 (V6), its next-generation PLM 2.0 application platform. This version was conceived in close collaboration with the company’s customers and leverages the success of its brands and the previous V5 PLM software platform. The biggest advancement of V6, a quantum leap of sorts, is the object-based approach of managing product design data. No other major player in PLM and/or computer-aided design (CAD) has achieved this feat. Dassault Systèmes’ V5 platform and all of the other current market offerings are instead document-based (which is more rigid and pedestrian). In contrast, on the V6 platform, all major Dassault Systèmes brands and applications (i.e., CATIA, SIMULIA, DELMIA, and ENOVIA) are based on a single data model enabled through the company’s virtual product management (VPM) engine (see the Backgrounder for more details).

While competitors and pundits will point to the inevitable problems regarding V6 connectivity and backward compatibility (indeed, most larger companies rely on a hodgepodge of PLM and CAD systems, where even migration from V4 or V5 to V6 implies essentially a new implementation), Dassault Systèmes may be a trailblazer in product design. Dassault Systèmes’ unwavering philosophy is that virtual worlds can improve the real world. The unified V6 platform is a major redefinition of the PLM market—it is designed to harness collective intelligence from online communities and enable any user to imagine, share, and experience products in the universal language of 3D.

Dassault Systèmes believes that everyone can play a critical role in bringing the right products to market at the right time. The voice of customer (VoC) and supplier involvement concepts are not new, but the Internet and social media have evolved them. Optimal response to an on-demand marketplace requires that products be designed, tested, produced, shared, and experienced in real time. The Internet meanwhile has grown to foster access to global information, online communities, and real-time interaction that position end-users and consumers to contribute to product development.

The Dassault Systèmes vision is to enable everyone—from product designers, engineers, companies, and suppliers to end users or consumers and their respective communities—to create, share, and experience the 3D virtual world, thereby maximizing the value of their IP and digital assets. For example, Dassault Systèmes’ customers are looking not only to design the safest, greenest (efficient and environmentally friendly), and smartest vehicle, but also to create a desired, valuable customer experience suiting each market need. The vendor wants to help them move from focusing on vehicle attributes (e.g., horsepower, revs per minute, etc.) to vehicle experience (i.e., the car runs smoothly, is “peppy,” handles sharp road curves, etc.).

Harnessing a company’s collective intelligence requires a single platform that can federate all product-related knowledge no matter where it resides, not just within the engineering and manufacturing realms, but all along the route from initial idea to product experience. In addition, companies can share selected product information while also better protecting their IP and all confidential information, as the data remains on the server. To that end, V6 offers a single database, in the cloud or on-premise, for all applications, and embraces service-oriented architecture (SOA) standards, thereby lowering the total cost of ownership (TCO) and spurring more efficient collaboration.

3D Experience Platform—Beyond PLM

With an eye to the future, Dassault Systèmes has introduced software applications that now form part of what it refers to as “Universal Services.” The role of those services is to enable customers to re-use and leverage the digital content created with Dassault Systèmes’ PLM and CAD software solutions, and other software. As defined, these applications can be deployed and used by a wide range of non-engineering users, including businesses, individuals (e.g., architects, space planners, surgeons, archeologists, consumers, etc.), educational institutions, and society at large.

In other words, PLM (including CAD) no longer sufficiently describes what Dassault Systèmes offers. One can expect to see Dassault Systèmes promoting alternative terms such as “lifelike experience” or “3D experience.” Needless to say, Dassualt Systèmes is trying to view the world through end-customer eyes. The recently espoused “3D Experience” platform is hoped to help users create winning consumer experiences.

The company’s additional brands within Universal Services include 3DVIA, for realistic 3D (“lifelike”) experiences; Exalead, for intelligent search and search-based applications; and 3DSwYm for online collaboration and social innovation. The latter started in 2007 as a venture with Publicis and other ad firms to allow marketers to share concepts to get customer feedback before going to market. Using the 3DSwYm social platform, over 400 communities of diverse interests exchange ideas, knowledge, and experience to foster innovation within Dassault Systèmes and for its customers. See TEC’s recent blog post for more details on Dassault Systèmes’ 3DSwYm and Exalead brands following its recent Netvibes acquisition.

3DVIA: “Lifelike” Offering

3DVIA started with Dassault Systèmes’ “3D For All” initiative in the mid-2000s, when Dassault Systèmes acquired Virtools SA, a company with expertise in interactive Web applications that give lifelike behavior to 3D content. In 2007, the vendor leveraged its research and technology and advanced its 3D For All initiative with the introduction of the 3DVIA brand for lifelike 3D experiences easily accessible and viewable by ordinary users. 3DVIA extends 3D to new businesses and consumers in order to create new communities with 3D models as their common language. With its open Web services architecture, 3DVIA enables high-fidelity distribution of 3D content (which is not as “heavy” in engineering details as are CAD files for engineers).

Lately, consumers have ever-more input on upcoming products and their features, whereby innovation is going through significant democratization. In the past, innovation was led mainly by large organizations with large research and development (R&D) investments. The reality today is that many of the so-called BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) countries are the fastest growing because innovation is at the forefront of their policies. It is not necessarily companies, but rather groups of people (and sometimes even students) that are inventing new concepts worldwide. It would seem that Dassault Systèmes, one such large organization, recognizes the value—both human and financial—of tapping the potential of social collaboration that engages new user constituencies.

3DVIA Opportunities

During the Waltham campus opening program for the press, Dassault Systèmes demoed several concrete 3DVIA uses. We all saw the virtual reality demos of the company’s own building (a fly over, with the accurate detail of the motion causing leaves on the trees to shiver, and an interior walk-through), a photo-like high-definition (HD) 3D rendering of a luxury car (where one could see the reflection of an adjacent building and sunshine on the car’s windows), a virtual training session on an oil rig (whereby, in a safe, lifelike environment, a trainee avatar can walk through and find a dangerously hissing valve that needs repair), and a breathtaking reconstruction of the entire Giza plateau (created in collaboration with a team of Egyptology experts from Harvard University and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Jean-Pierre Houdin, a French architect with a keen interest in reconstructing ancient pyramids, said in a recent article that if he hadn’t experienced the pyramid in 3D using Dassault Systèmes technologies, he would never have been able to confirm his famed theory—that the pyramid was built from the inside—is possible. Understanding the world’s mysteries and meeting the many challenges we face require innovations, and new ideas can emerge from multidisciplinary collaboration via 3D virtual universes. Following the recreation of the construction of the Great Pyramid with Houdin, Dassault Systèmes is continuing to combine Egyptology and 3D technologies in other projects, such as the design of a robot to explore the shafts leading to the Queen’s Chamber of the Great Pyramid in Khufu, in collaboration with a team from the University of Leeds and the Supreme Council of Antiquities.

During the campus tour, our group was led by Lynn Wilson, CEO of 3DVIA, who provided a brief update on 3DVIA and the critical role that this brand plays in the overall Dassault Systèmes vision of pervasive 3D. Advanced product innovation requires that a 3D product can be experienced as closely as possible to how it looks and behaves in real life, with an intuitive interface that mimics real life (this “lifelike” video is an example). According to Wilson, the 3DVIA strategy is straightforward: establish 3D as the universal language for communication between engineering, business, and consumers for a ubiquitous 3D virtual experience. Further illustrations of the Waltham office can be seen on the Dassault Systèmes Tumblr feed and on Oleg Shilovitsky’s Beyond PLM blog post.

Just like software code, complex CAD models are hard to evaluate and debug, and even when a model is complete, the question remains whether it is sufficiently robust. Moving to a lifelike interface can not only help with testing CAD models for gaps, but also improve the product’s usability if end customers are able to visualize and “play” with them in virtual world. There is no value for a product if the value of using it is not understood. A product’s value comes from using it, and a virtual experience with a product can provide the needed understanding.

Accordingly, consumer packaged goods (CPG) and cosmetics manufacturers and retailers could allow retail buyers or consumers to try out products virtually, without opening (and destroying) packages. In fashion and apparel manufacturing, users could test clothes on their avatar and then go buy online (although, this could reduce the time that customers actually spend in stores, which has other ramifications). In durable goods or auto, consumers can try out a look or feel, or perform a virtual usability test. Configure-to-order (CTO) or assembly-to-order (ATO) manufacturers could choose product features or options based on 3D lifelike experiences. A shortened scale-up or ramp-up phase (from the lab and prototype to a pilot production) could afford companies the time to test a few alternatives with customers before going to market.

In addition to the serious gaming apps that support training in industry sectors such as the oil and gas and process manufacturing, 3DVIA Shopper supports the overall Dassault Systèmes strategy for the retail sector. At Retail’s BIG Show 2012 by National Retail Federation (NRF), we saw 3DVIA Store at Microsoft’s retail ecosystem booth. Retailers can fill the shelves virtually with lifelike items created from either CAD drawings or photos; rules can be created beforehand about, say, how many items can go together on a shelf, which items must not go together, etc. Dassault Systèmes might expand its opportunity in this way, and compete with JDA Software or Oracle AVT retail space planning software and planograms.

Helping Society at Large

The other untapped opportunity is in non–manufacturing oriented sectors, where hardly any major PLM player has forayed in earnest, except for Autodesk in movies, gaming, and architecture and construction. Indeed, consumer technologies based on a combination of virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality, involving information and communication technology (ICT), mobile technology, and cloud computing have changed the way doctors work. For example, developed by physicians at UCLA and Geneva University, the OsiriX imaging software transforms X-ray images into 3D digital modeling images. By making organs transparent and rotating them in 3D, it is possible to find hidden cancers. By bringing those images into the operating room on tablets, surgeons can use them to help guide their surgery.

To that end, Dassault Systèmes is investing to better serve society, education, research, and business. In these days of austerity measures (with some politicians even openly mocking science and research), it is impressive that the vendor has earmarked US$200 million for a five-year, European Union (EU)–sponsored life sciences research program called Bio PLM. Some of the mind-boggling projects involve watching the behavior of cholesterol cells in blood vessels and cancer cells throughout the human body. Our best guess is that the principle here is similar to that used in weather modeling, by driving huge volumes of data into parallel models. By revealing patterns, one can look for tags that signify too many white cells, etc. (Dassault Systèmes experts will have to collaborate here with medical doctors and researchers for the “know-how” input for modeling.)

Surely the use of 3DVIA products can only help Dassault Systèmes with protecting and growing its CAD and PLM revenue. CATIA is still, and will be for quite some time to come, Dassault Systèmes’ biggest ground. Another reason for the vendor to expand 3D Experience is to promote usage of 3D content, while earning revenue from CAD tools that create the 3D data. CATIA should facilitate increased 3D content creation, collaboration, and viewing.

Some Challenges

Dassault Systèmes has come a long way from its CAD origins and traditional strengths—“planes, trains, and automobiles”—and significantly broadened its functional footprint. The company’s software applications address a wide range of products, from apparel, consumer goods, machine parts, and semiconductors to automobiles, aircraft, ships, and factories. Its global customer base includes companies primarily in the following 11 industrial sectors: automotive, industrial equipment, aerospace, consumer goods, CPG, energy, high-tech, shipbuilding, life sciences, construction, and business services. Newer industries, such as high-tech, life sciences, consumer goods, energy, and CPG, represent approximately a quarter of end-user software sales. Dassault Systèmes’ strongest industries in terms of revenues remain the following: automotive (approximately 30 percent); industrial equipment (approximately 21 percent); aerospace (approximately 14 percent); high-tech and business services, including engineering services companies (approximately 10 percent each).

Still, CATIA and SolidWorks, Dassault Systèmes’ core solutions for 3D design, contribute to more than two-thirds of the vendor’s revenues, which means that the other six non-CAD brands (including multiple ENOVIA PLM products) combined contribute to only the remaining third of revenues. Dassault Systèmes’ CEO admitted that 3DVIA can no longer be considered a startup, but it is still less than a US$100 million business. The 3D Experience strategy is visionary, but it may not pay financial dividends in the short term. However, it does expand the positioning of the company from being design workgroup–centric to intra- and inter-enterprise innovation–based.

Recently, Dassault Systèmes espoused an industry-oriented product development and sales strategy. Certainly, based on industry-specific business process applications, ready-to-use PLM business processes software should enable more rapid deployments and thus a quick return on investment (ROI), but the challenge is always execution. But selling to vertical markets and new audiences across multiple product lines takes resources away from sales, system implementation, and consulting. Consulting, change management, and training are challenges as well as opportunities in some markets to which Dassault Systèmes is new, including retail, CPG, and life sciences. The prospective buyers in these markets are still immature in their understanding of the benefits and applicability of the technology, and they want to speak to trusted industry experts and advisors over people who sell CAD to complex discrete manufacturers.

This will be a big cultural change for Dassault Systèmes, which historically has driven product delivery based on technological content by its (sometimes know-it-all) engineering experts rather than on market requirements. Getting more direct market input into the product development process from across these many industries is a step in right direction, but it will likely create challenges in setting development priorities. The reorganization might also cause some commotion in the partner ecosystem. When the overhead gets large, not being able to control the deal flow becomes detrimental; Dassault Systèmes had to acquire the IBM PLM sales and consulting business in 2009 and bring it under its own roof. The acquisition of the IBM business unit dedicated exclusively to the marketing, sale, and support of Dassault Systèmes’ PLM software, along with its customer contracts and related assets, has since given the vendor control of its entire sales channel and strengthened its global sales force.

The partner ecosystem has been especially peculiar in the case of SolidWorks. Oleg Shilovitsky’s recent blog post from SolidWorks World 2012 shows that many of the product’s partners for PDM and PLM basically are Dassault Systèmes’ competitors (e.g., Aras Innovator and Oracle Agile PLM). In addition, for historical reasons, SolidWorks uses the Parasolid 3D modeling kernel, which is currently owned by Siemens PLM. MatrixOne also had a partnership with Oracle AutoVue before the acquisition by Dassault Systèmes. (To be fair, Dassault Systèmes’ ACIS kernel is used by Autodesk Inventor.)

But a much bigger issue will arise when the vendor pulls SolidWorks in under the unified object-based architecture of V6. How will that affect the current SolidWorks channel, where each partner has invested in specific toolsets? Many partners cannot afford to retrain their staff or try to resell to their existing customers that have invested in old tools.

Competition is not subsiding either. In addition to the large global competitors named above (i.e., Siemens, PTC, SAP, Oracle, and Autodesk), numerous software developers compete with the company in specific applications or industries including. Some of these point solutions are Adobe, HP Autonomy, Aveva, Bentley, Google, Intergraph (owned by Hexagon AB), MathWorks, Nemetschek AG, and Right Hemisphere (now part of SAP). Still, Dassault Systèmes’ continued growth in 2011 alongside similar growth by its rivals indicates that the market is still far from a zero-sum game. Expanding PLM into 3D Experience might only mean pushing the zero-sum game to a distant point on the horizon.

BACKGROUNDER: Dassault Systèmes

Dassault Systèmes is the second largest European enterprise software company (after SAP), with revenues over US$2.3 billion in 2011. It was established through the spin-off of a team of engineers from Avions Marcel Dassault (later Dassault Aviation), a major manufacturer in civil and military aviation, that was developing software for 3D product design. But the company’s genesis can be traced back to a dozen or so engineers who, in 1977, were in charge of helping the plane-building process. The 3D CAD software CATIA (initially called CATI) they were developing was initially intended to assist the design of planes only, but it was adapted for other industry sectors such as automotive, industrial machinery, and aerospace and defense (A&D).

Dassault Aviation quickly realized that, as a large and complex manufacturer, it could not afford to develop this software invention internally, and thus Dassault Systèmes was created in 1981 to explore the CAD and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) market for one sole customer (Dassault Aviation). Dassault Group (or Groupe Industriel Marcel Dassault), one of IBM’s major clients in France, negotiated a deal in which IBM would market CATIA as an IBM product in a non-exclusive 50/50 revenue-sharing agreement. The deal was extremely successful for both companies and it has been fundamental to Dassault Systèmes’ success. Today Dassault Group owns more than 40 percent of Dassault Systèmes.

Over time, CATIA was noticed and accepted in sectors other than plane manufacturing, mainly within the automotive sector, where BMW, Mercedes, and Honda became customers. Dassault Systèmes took a step-by-step approach to progressively address other industries such as consumer goods, industrial machinery, and shipbuilding. IBM became a marquee customer in the mid 1980s and deployed CATIA in its engineering and manufacturing plants.


CATIA is Dassault Systèmes’ CAD/CAM solution for 3D collaborative virtual product creation. The CATIA V6 product portfolio comprises the following four main domains:

  • Systems engineering: CATIA Systems responds to the challenges facing designers of smart products with complex embedded systems within products of all types, having mechanical, electronic, and software components. CATIA Systems captures, manages, and tracks product requirements with full traceability.
    Relevant acquisitions: Dynasim AB (2005) and Geensoft (2010) have contributed to CATIA being able to serve companies specializing in modeling and simulation solutions for embedded systems.
  • Shape design: CATIA Shape provides a suite of surfacing, reverse engineering, and visualization solutions to create, modify, and validate any type of complex innovative shapes, and help streamline the transitions between and collaboration among industrial designers, Class A modelers, and mechanical engineers.
    Relevant acquisition: ICEM (2007), well-known in the automotive industry for its styling and high-definition surface modeling and rendering solutions.
  • Mechanical engineering and design: CATIA Mechanical delivers a collaborative and flexible design environment with concurrent engineering and engineering change management concepts through relational design to enable the efficient definition and engineering of any type of 3D parts and assemblies. V6 expands 3D design to user communities outside of the design office, addressing each profile (role) with the right modeler capabilities.
  • Equipment and systems design: CATIA Equipment provides an integrated environment that enables the collaborative detailed design of electronic, electrical, and fluidic systems of a virtual product. Such an integrated environment aims to improve design quality, reduce time needed for modifications, and minimize errors.

Customers: Renault, Lockheed Martin, Johnson & Johnson, Bell Helicopter, and Benetton.

Relevant acquisition: CADAM (1992), a 2-dimensional (2D) CAD/CAM software from IBM, from which was created Dassault Systèmes Americas Corp.

Market: Dassault Systèmes’ main competitor is PTC, with its brands for PLM (Windchill) and product design (Creo, formerly Pro/Engineer). Siemens PLM has similar product demarcation lines, with what could be viewed as an additional offering in plant automation, given its automation origins and heritage (Siemens PLM Software is a business unit of Siemens Industry Automation Division, after all).


In deciding to diversify, in 2007 Dassault Systèmes acquired SolidWorks with the goal of targeting the significant fertile market of companies designing their products in 2D but that are interested in taking advantage of the power of 3D mechanical design.

The product’s intuitive Microsoft Windows–based user interface (UI) enables people to productively use SolidWorks software after a reasonable training period. SolidWorks applications provide users with a 3D design process, for which a fully detailed solid model is used to quickly produce drawings and perform downstream design functions. Each year a new release of SolidWorks is introduced into the market with innovations to respond to requirements currently not met by industry solutions, further enhancements of existing functionalities that are more productive and easier to use, and specific enhancements explicitly requested by users through the close contact maintained by SolidWorks and its sales channel with customers.

Relevant acquisition: GCS Scandinavia AB (2006), a Swedish company with a PDM product now distributed as SolidWorks Enterprise PDM.

SolidWorks 2012 has several areas of focus, including helping engineers design faster and more efficiently, enhanced support for manufacturing and costing, and improved collaboration and visualization. SolidWorks applications include the following 3D tools to design, manage, simulate, sustain, and communicate:

  • 3D Design: SolidWorks major 3D design capabilities include complex part and assembly modeling, production drawing creation, data management, design validation and simulation of motion, flow and structural performance, environmental impact evaluation, and publishing.
  • Data management: SolidWorks PDM solutions enable control over all design information, eliminating concerns about version control or data loss. Files are securely stored and can be quickly retrieved using a variety of search attributes, such as part number, description, or workflow status. Collaboration and data reuse are promoted, reducing duplicate files and redundant work, while design processes can be easily followed and with increased efficiency. These solutions are also designed to give users more opportunity to innovate and improve products by reducing time spent searching for files and concerns about manufacturing having the correct design information.
  • Simulation: SolidWorks simulation technology ensures the quality and performance of the design before users commit to production. Comprehensive analysis tools enable users to test models digitally. With the information developed, users can determine methods to reduce weight and material costs, improve durability and manufacturability, optimize margins, and compare design alternatives to best meet specific customer requirements.
  • Environmental assessments: SolidWorks sustainability technology enables users to assess the environmental impact of their design to create more sustainable products. The software integrates life cycle assessment–based tools into the design process, measuring the environmental impacts of carbon, energy, air, and water. The material selection tool provides instant feedback to help users choose the most environmentally friendly material for a particular design. In addition, one-click report generation helps users communicate their findings.

Market: SolidWorks, having sold more than 1.5 million licenses of SolidWorks to businesses and educational institutions, is the mid-market CAD leader, in fierce competition with Autodesk Inventor and Siemens Solid Edge.

SIMULIA: Product Behavior Simulations

SIMULIA is Dassault Systèmes’ PLM brand for realistic product simulation and stress testing.

Relevant acquisitions: Abaqus (2005) forms the core of Dassault Systèmes’ realistic simulation offerings. Engineous Software (2008) focused on solutions for process automation, integration, and optimization.

The SIMULIA portfolio of solutions is designed to improve product performance, reduce the number of physical prototypes, and drive innovation. SIMULIA V6 covers the following realms:

  • Finite element analysis (FEA)—software tools for creating and testing virtual prototypes of products and processes
  • Multi-physics solutions—solutions that enable companies to reach beyond the boundaries of a single domain to simulate two or more interacting physical phenomena (i.e., structural, thermal, flow, electrical, acoustic, and other effects)
  • Optimization analysis—design exploration and optimization technology that enables designers and engineers to perform rapid trade-off studies of real-world behavior and accelerate product development
  • Simulation lifecycle management—based upon Dassault Systèmes’ unified ENOVIA V6 architecture, an open collaborative platform for management of simulation data, processes, and intellectual property (IP)

Market: SIMULIA is behind ANSYS in market share, and competing with MSC Software Corp., LMS International, and Altair Engineering. Dassault Systèmes’ CAD and PLM archrivals, PTC and Siemens PLM, are not in this market segment’s top five.


DELMIA addresses the digital manufacturing domain (the ability to simulate, validate, and predict digitally before physical manufacturing resources are committed).

Relevant acquisitions: The DELMIA brand was launched in 2000 after Dassault Systèmes had acquired Deneb Robotics, a US company specialized in robotic simulation; Safework, a Canadian company specialized in human modeling technology; and EAI-Delta, a German company specialized in manufacturing process management (MPM) software. With manufacturing execution system (MES) provider InterCIM (2011), the vendor has integrated digital manufacturing and virtual production simulation with shop floor operations and production quality solutions.

DELMIA V6 covers the following four principal domains:

  • Manufacturing planning—3D process and resource planning tools for creating and optimizing build-to-order (BTO) and lean production manufacturing systems
  • Plant and resources engineering—tools to virtually define and optimize manufacturing assets concurrently with manufacturing planning
  • Program control engineering—to virtually program, validate, and simulate manufacturing systems for the virtual commissioning of production facilities
  • Control and production execution—offers a virtual production system to enable companies to track real-time production activities, perform schedule changes, launch new programs and introduce model changeovers, and schedule maintenance operations

Market: Siemens Technomatix leads the market, but Dassault Systèmes is competing fiercely with Mentor Graphics (which in 2010 acquired Valor, a leader in printed circuit board [PCB] design). Traditional pure-play MES players such as Rockwell and Emerson have multiple times more installs, but Siemens and Dassault Systèmes are the leading players when it comes to MES sold with PLM. SAP and Oracle’s MES offerings are mostly enterprise resource planning (ERP)–based, but they may potentially tackle the PLM space as well.


The ENOVIA portfolio of applications manages product data configurations, product lifecycle integration, and collaboration. Dassault Systèmes introduced its Version 5 (V5) software platform for the PLM market, designed for both Microsoft Windows NT and UNIX environments, in 1999.

Relevant acquisitions: The ENOVIA product line was created by merging Dassault Systèmes’ Virtual Product Management (VPM) application with the Product Manager software and development laboratory acquired from IBM. MatrixOne (2006), a global provider of collaborative PLM software and services to medium-to-large organizations, became the cornerstone of the Dassault Systèmes’ next-generation ENOVIA brand, creating a strong presence among high-tech manufacturers, medical product producers, and softline (fashion/apparel) manufacturers, and deepening the presence in the automotive supply chain and among machinery manufacturers in need of enterprise-centric PLM collaboration support.

The evolution of PLM from CAD data management hub to enterprise-wide collaboration platform led Dassault to leverage MatrixOne’s business layer, now the ENOVIA Program Central, Product Central, and Supplier Central modules. This holistic inter- and intra-enterprise approach is one of the reasons why many consumer electronics manufacturers use ENOVIA as their PLM platform: the ability to centrally manage product data, provide strong business processes around bill of material (BOM) management, and connect the product development process at the program and supplier level.

The V6 PLM platform, introduced in 2008, uses MatrixOne technology as its foundational underpinning that architecturally addresses enterprise-centric PLM needs. ENOVIA V6 enables companies to bring together people, processes, content, and systems involved in product creation, development, introduction, and maintenance. By unifying and streamlining product development processes across the product lifecycle, ENOVIA helps companies more easily and cost-effectively work on projects within and outside of their enterprises.

ENOVIA addresses business process needs across a broad spectrum of industries, managing simple as well as highly engineered, complex products. Deployments can range from small development teams to extended enterprises with tens of thousands of users, including suppliers and partners. The ENOVIA V6 portfolio enables the following major business processes:

  • Governance—designed to help companies launch enterprise-wide new product introductions (NPIs) on time and on budget. The governance suite includes these sub-processes: Requirements Management, Portfolio Configuration, Program Management, Decision Support Business Intelligence (BI), and Compliance.
  • Global Sourcing—allows companies to leverage supply chain capabilities throughout the product lifecycle and make their suppliers an integral part of product development.
  • IP Lifecycle Management—helps eliminate costly product development errors as it is designed to enable improved cross-functional product design, manufacturing planning, and performance simulation.
  • Unified Live Collaboration—also known as 3DLive, allows companies to deploy product lifecycle processes across the extended enterprise by providing a single real-time view of IP across all business process domains, collaborative process management capabilities, and a service-oriented architecture (SOA) that integrates with other enterprise systems.

Go-forward versus Legacy PLM Products

While former MatrixOne is the go-forward platform within ENOVIA V6, it will likely merge with the process manufacturing PLM capabilities that came from the 2011 acquisition of Enginuity. The ENOVIA portfolio consists of the following legacy product lines (which are no longer actively offered to new customers by Dassault Systèmes, but are still sold selectively by the partner ecosystem):

  • ENOVIA VPLM—an internally co-developed product with IBM in the early 1990s for management of highly complex product, resource, and manufacturing processes in medium and large extended enterprises
  • ENOVIA SmarTeam—from the 1999 acquisition of SmarTeam for collaborative product data management for small to medium businesses, engineering departments of larger organizations, and across supply chains

Discrete PLM: ENOVIA is arguably the number two brand in the market for large enterprises after Siemens Teamcenter, and competing fiercely with PTC Windchill, SAP PLM, and Oracle Agile PLM. In the mid-market, ENOVIA V6 Express faces fierce competition from Oracle Agile PLM, Teamcenter Express, Autodesk Vault, Arena Solutions, Aras Innovator, and Omnify Software.
Process PLM: ENOVIA (Enginuity) trails Infor10 Process PLM (former Optiva PLM), Selerant, SAP, Oracle Agile (former Prodika), Siemens, and Advanced Software Design (ASD).
Fashion PLM: SAP, Computer Generated Solutions (CGS, whose Blue Cherry PLM solution claims over 500 customers), Tradestone, Lectra, New Generation Computing (NGC), Infor (with the Freeborders and Runtime solutions), Gerber Technology (including recently acquired Yunique), PTC FlexPLM, and others have larger install bases. As manufacturing is increasingly outsourced, Runtime’s and Gerber’s respective integrations to ERP systems and/or cloth-cutting machines become less strategic and might lose significance to more collaborative solutions. While PTC is growing quickly in this segment (albeit from a smaller install base), ENOVIA has a relatively small base of larger companies.


In 2007, Dassault Systèmes acquired Seemage, a French provider of interactive 3D product documentation. From that acquisition, the vendor expanded its product documentation publishing offering as part of its 3DVIA brand under the name 3DVIA Composer. Virtools was added to the brand and became 3DVIA Virtools. Dassault Systèmes’ 3DVIA portfolio includes the following major solutions:

  • 3DVIA Composer enables users to visually communicate assembly procedures, technical illustrations, and marketing materials leveraging existing 3D images and other 3D source engineering data. Equivalent competitive offerings are PTC Arbortext, Autodesk Inventor Publisher, and Cortona3D (a partner of Siemens PLM).
  • 3DVIA Shopper enables retailers to visually communicate merchandising strategy at three levels (store, department, and shelf) and enables brand managers and category captains to virtually test consumer response to packaging and promotions.
  • 3DVIA Studio, a social development platform that leverages interactive gaming technology, enables teams of programmers, 3D artists, and designers to rapidly prototype, develop, and publish engaging 3D applications that enhance exploration, learning, and teaching. As an example, the aforementioned 3DVIA Shopper was developed by Dassault Systèmes using 3DVIA Studio.
  • 3DVIA.com, a community Web site dedicated to 3D enthusiasts and digital content creators to showcase 3D interactive experiences, is a YouTube-like online community for designing, sharing, and publishing 3D models. Via the 3DVIA Player tool, engineers can share ideas with marketing and sales, companies can share 3D models with customers (and vice versa), individuals can share ideas with each other, and so on.
  • 3DVIA Virtools delivers graphically impressive, interactive, and immersive real-time experiences for industry or game production (e.g., urban planning, virtual reality, electronic entertainment, etc.).


References and Related TEC Articles*

Siemens Product Development Solutions for Process Industries. March 13, 2012.
Social PLM and CRM – Dassault Systèmes and Netvibes (Under the Exalead Brand). March 1, 2012.
What Could Be Some New Frontiers for Large CAD/PLM Providers? November 16, 2011.
SAP Moving into the Right Hemisphere of the CAD and PLM World. September 23, 2011.
PLM as a Strategic Weapon: An Underlying PlanetPTC Live 2011 Theme – Part 2. September 14, 2011.
What Could Process Manufacturers Do Better in PLM? August 17, 2011.
Has SAP Become a PLM Factor to Be Reckoned With? June 23, 2011.
Sustainability From a Roles Perspective: Reflections from DSCC 2010 (Day 2). November 11, 2010.
Innovation, Innovation, Innovation: Notes from DSCC 2010 (Day 1). November 10, 2010.
PLM (Vendors) and Lean Product Development — Part 2: Dassault Systèmes. December 9, 2009.

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