Something that Dassault Systemes CEO Bernard Charles said on stage at SolidWorks World 2010 is beginning to make sense to me. I don’t remember the exact words but it was something regarding a move from making intelligent software to helping users make intelligent products. He explained that for years Dassault Systemes had been adding intelligence to their software solutions. While they would continue to do so, they were now looking at taking things to the next level. That involved helping customers develop products that were intelligent and not just a collection of analyzed parts and assemblies. He was talking about embedded systems and how his company was looking at that market.
An embedded system is basically a compact computer system that is designed to perform a very specific function and is “embedded” as part of a complete device including hardware and mechanical parts. These systems can be as simple as a digital watch or a complex air traffic control system containing several embedded systems.
Today a tweet from Allan Behrens alerted me to Dassault Systemes’ acquisition of Geensoft for 5.5 million Euros. Headquartered in Brest, France, Geensoft provides design tools for the development, implementation and testing of software dominant embedded systems. The Dassault Systemes press release is subtitled “Acquisition of Geensoft to Digitally Validate Embedded Software in Intelligent Vehicles” and goes on to explain how the company’s V6 portfolio will be expanded by giving it the ability to not just model by also generate an entire vehicle control software system and also allow the user to validate it by interlinking the physical parts to their virtual counterparts in CAD.
I will be frank enough to say that while I don’t understand much of this embedded systems stuff (I’m just a simple CAD guy), I am beginning to see the shift that Bernard was talking about. Recently Dassault Systemes bought Exalead for 13.5 million Euros. While Exalead’s web search engine works like crap (see “Did You Mean Katia?“), I am told that their Enterprise Search Technology is pretty good. I am not sure whether the Exalead acquisition is in anyway related to Dassault’s so called “Systems Strategy”. But one thing is for sure. The company seems to be on a buying spree.
Some time ago, Autodesk was on a buying spree as well. That was till the recession hit everyone and things slowed down. However, Autodesk’s acquisitions were more in line with their Digital Prototyping strategy which involves making the software intelligent as opposed to helping users make intelligent products. I get the feeling that Dassault Systemes is going to be shopping some more.