I believe that moving CAD to the cloud is one of the most disruptive things that the CAD industry has ever seen, or rather, will see. This is nowhere close to something as simple as a change in the UI, like replacing the menu with the ribbon. It think it will be even way larger than the parametric feature based modeling method that PTC pioneered some 25 years ago and the direct modeling stuff that we have been seeing for some time now. This changes everything. And I mean EVERYTHING. Not just the way you design, but also how and where you store your intellectual property and the way you carry out your business as a whole. There are so many unanswered questions about the cloud right now that it literally makes your head hurt.
That is why I was quite surprised that even before Dassault Systemes and SolidWorks had sold the idea of CAD on the cloud to their customers, they have already started making disturbing statements basically suggesting that all their customers would eventually have to move to the cloud. From the language used by CEO’s Bernard Charles and Jeff Ray at SolidWorks World 2010, it was quite clear that Dassault Systemes and SolidWorks were not giving their customers a choice. Rather they were giving them time. Obviously, this kind of noise has had the effect of confusing their customer base to no end and even scaring the crap out of some people.
Needless to say, other CAD vendors are rubbing their hands in glee and expecting that these two heavy weights are about to make a mammoth mistake. One senior executive recently told me, “When Dassault bought SolidWorks years ago I was overjoyed because I knew that they would f**k it up. But they didn’t. Now they definitely going to f**k it up. I say, better late than never“. When asked how the fight with SolidWorks was panning out, another senior executive told me, “We will beat them in time. But for quite a while now we have been waiting for them to make a mistake. This is not a mistake. This is a blunder. I smell opportunity.” I recently spoke to a number of senior executives of CAD vendors to get their views on CAD on the cloud and posted their views on this blog. While some were ready to go on record, others were not. But they did tell me exactly what they thought about what Dassault Systemes was doing.
The more I read between the lines and look around at what Dassault Systemes is up to, the more I am beginning to get an idea of how things are positioned at present and the direction they are expected to take in the future. In the next part of this series I will lay out what I believe to be the cloud strategy of Dassault Systemes.
Part 2 >>