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It’s difficult to be elbow-deep in tech and innovation all day long for any amount of time, and not develop a short-list of favorite companies. It isn’t about bias. It’s about exposure, for starters, then familiarity, and finally judgment : You look at how companies do things, how they operate, how they address change – how they drive change, even – and inevitably, some of those companies are going to rise to the top. It isn’t all that different for an analyst than it is for a consumer. The parameters are different but the end result is the same: you admire or appreciate some companies more than others because of what they contribute to their ecosystem and yours. Apple, Samsung, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Nike, Adidas, Oakley, HBO, Disney, Dunkin Donuts… it could be anybody. And when you start to like what a company is doing, you start to pay attention to it more. You tend to be more aware of what it is doing, what it is working on. Why? Because if what it does matters, and it does it well, you tend to care about what it’s going to come up with next.
There’s no time (today) to get into the complete list of companies I am closely following, but I do want to point you towards one of them: Dassault Systemes (or 3DS for short). To give you a tiny bit of context, I grew up hearing the Dassault name as a kid. A lot. Dassault was a big player in the French defense industry when I was growing up, and then when I served, so they were basically a household name. Dassault Systemes is not the same company though. It doesn’t build tanks and fighter jets. It’s an offshoot from way back whose focus has for sometime been squarely on software, virtualization, and 3D modeling. And thanks to a combination of decades of inspired product development and really smart acquisitions, Dassault Systemes evolved into not a but the 3D technology company, before becoming the 3D experience company (which matters more, given that we are now shifting from a products and services economy to an experience economy). And so even if you have never heard the name Dassault Systemes, it’s pretty likely that you have heard of some of its business units and products, like SolidWorks and Catia if you work in engineering and design, or 3DVIA and 3DEXCITE if you work in marketing or retail.
To give you some context, it’s more than likely that every device you see around you was designed using Dassault Systemes software. And by “designed,” I mean ideated, engineered, modeled, tested, reiterated… from its very first prototype concept to the product you bought from Amazon or Best Buy or Dick’s Sporting Goods, or the Nike store. Even the packaging was probably designed with the help of a Dassault Systemes product. Components, parts, complete products, the material and mechanical testing of those parts and products, assembly lines, supply chains, tooling, packaging, virtualized retail spaces and merchandizing, they make all of that possible. Cars, airplanes, submarines, fitness wearables, pots and pans, artificial hearts, solar panels, wind turbines, smart buildings, interactive retail experiences, connected cities, 3D printing… They’re woven into all of it and more. In short, Dassault Systemes is one of the most important and significant technology companies you may have never heard of – or haven’t heard enough about – and I want to try and remedy that here today, because I think they deserve a little bit more attention than they are getting.
And okay, look, I get it: the Apples, Googles, Facebooks, Twitters, Airbnbs, Ubers and Snapchats and Salesforces are the superstars of the Silicon Valley tech press, and for good reason. There’s a lot of exciting stuff happening there, and they deserve the attention they get on a daily basis. Big market caps, exciting IPOs, and big plays with VC money and VR and Big Data and cloud solutions, and AI… They’re kind of like the main characters in a really cool story about the evolution of tech and culture. But you know what? More often than not, the really cool work is being done where the cameras aren’t rolling and when no one is paying attention. Not “behind the curtain,” exactly, but not center-stage either.
Now, I don’t know for certain that the HP Envy laptop I am typing this article on was designed in SolidWorks, just like I don’t know for certain that the iPhone sitting next to me right now, or the Hannspree flat screen monitors lining my office wall, or the Zagg bluetooth keyboard propped up next to my Clairefontaine notebook, or that the B&O speakers blasting music at the back of my Humanscale office chair were either, but if I were a betting man, my money would be on yes. While we like to obsess over what Facebook and Apple are working on, Dassault Systemes is quietly enabling tens of thousands of companies and organizations around the globe to literally design-build the world around us, from the smallest device or object (like, say, a toothbrush) to entire cities – and by “cities,” I mean every interconnected layer of a city: Power grids. Sewers. WiFi hot spots. Traffic lights. Police cameras. Trash management. Traffic. Fleet management. Utilities. Soil moisture around public parks. Weather analysis. Smart buildings. Subway schedules… everything you can think of. Even the IoT is being developed by way of Dassault Systemes software.
So yeah, Dassault Systemes is on my radar, and despite a relative lack of visibility, at least compared to its more obvious tech brethren, it is sending off a mighty big ping. As an analyst who spends a lot of time talking about tech companies, and digital transformation, and how to modernize business and use technology to transform companies into dragons, and the experience economy, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Dassault Systemes on a regular basis, if only to raise awareness about their growing list of contributions to… well, pretty much everything. To that end, here is a quick breakdown of how their products may fit into your world based on your role or function within an organization:
- Design, Engineering: SolidWorks, Catia
- COO: Delmia, Enovia
- CEO, COO, CMO, etc.: NetVibes
- CDO, CIO: ExaLead
- CMO, CCO: 3DVia, 3DExcite
There’s more, but you get the idea. I really encourage you to familiarize yourself with this company and what it allows companies to do, especially given how fast the business world is changing. This is one of the companies that makes digital transformation both possible and actionable, and that matters. It matters, and it deserves attention.
On a personal note, as a long-time Marketing guy, 3DVia and 3DExcite are pretty high on my list of favorite products… and I may bring them up again when I get around to talking about how to fix the impending “retail apocalypse,” so be on the lookout for that.
In the meantime, you might also want to mark your calendars: Dassault Systemes’ Design in the Age of Experience Worldwide Conference is right around the corner (April 4-5), so expect a few enlightening case studies and demos to come out of it, notably from Fiat, IED, Honda, and Nikon. If anything groundbreaking turns up during the event, I will be sure to share the details with you here and on Twitter.
That’s it. Your homework tonight is to spend 10-15 minutes browsing through Dassault Systemes’ website and discover some of the operational capabilities your company may need but isn’t aware it could already have access to. (Bonus if you’re a brick-and-mortar retailer, or work with B+M retailers, because you may need this more than most, and time is running out.) This collection of articles might also be useful.
Happy browsing, and come back here tomorrow. We’ll probably have more useful insights for you. If not, we’re always plugged into Twitter, so be sure to follow us there.
Olivier Blanchard has extensive experience managing product innovation, technology adoption, digital integration, and change management for industry leaders in the B2B, B2C, B2G sectors, and the IT channel. His passion is helping decision-makers and their organizations understand the many risks and opportunities of technology-driven disruption, and leverage innovation to build stronger, better, more competitive companies. Read Full Bio.