A Conversation With Jacques Leveillé-Nizerolle – Part 3

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Deelip: You mentioned my blog. Do you get the time to read blogs?

Jacques: Oh, yes. I make the time. I keep an eye on your blog.

Deelip: How does it feel like to work in the same company for 26 years?

Jacques: (laughs) Well, actually I don’t feel like I have been working in the same company for 26 years. The thing is before I was appointed as CATIA CEO, when I was Vice President of R&D of CATIA I was heavily involved in integrating CATIA into some of our large customers. For example, I spent far more time at Toyota migrating 5000 seats of their internal solution to CATIA V5 than I spent time at Dassault Systemes at that time. Earlier on, I spent two years at Boeing helping them implement CATIA V4. So I have been spending a lot of time at customer sites. 26 years seems to be a long time to be at one company. But I can tell you that I am definitely not bored with what I am doing. As you can see, CAD is not a commodity. We have done a lot of exciting stuff.

Deelip: Speaking of exciting stuff, Dassault Systemes has been quite vocal about its plans on moving CAD to the Cloud. I am curious too know your views on that. In your opinion, how far are we from CAD on the Cloud?

Jacques: Well, we are not very far. This is more a question about the maturity of the market as opposed to the maturity of the technology. People have begun to realize that they are spending a lot of time and resources managing, protecting and administering their data. All the costs involved in doing so does not really add any value to the company. People are realizing that they can get the same, if not more, level of security and quality of service from the Cloud. This also depends on personal behavior as well as company behavior. I believe larger companies will take more time to switch to the Cloud. Smaller companies, say those with 2, 5 or 10 seats of CATIA, will move much faster.

Deelip: Will Dassault Systemes a Cloud version of CATIA anytime soon?

Jacques: In the coming months we are going to release CATIA on the Cloud hosted on the V6 PLM platform. We are still finalizing our plans. But we hope to have something out by the end of the year. I can tell you that we are ready for this. We have developed the V6 platform in such a way that there is just one location for the PLM database and everybody connects to it. There is no need to duplicate data at every data center of a company. Everyone talks to the same database and connects to it via the internet.

Deelip: Yes, I noticed that V6 does not have a file format. I mean in V5 you had parts stored as CATPart files, assemblies stored as CATProduct files. In V6 everything is an object in a database.

Jacques: Yes, we have moved away from the document based system. That is just too cumbersome and causes a lot of problems. Things are far more simpler when all the data is centrally located and people with the right access level can access it from wherever they are and whenever they want to do so.

Some customers may be reluctant to change the way they work. But in recent times I have seen many customers understand the value of doing this in the Cloud. The reduction in costs will be significant. The integration headaches will disappear. Data replication will no longer be necessary.

Some time ago I met a customer who told me something quite interesting. He was describing to me the way his children learn geography and contrasting it with they way we learned it. Today they go to Google Earth, fly to the place they want to learn about, visualize it in 3D, click on a link that takes them to a National Geographic page. That’s how they do it today. Another thing is how they socialize. We think that we are being modern when we use MSN. They meet each other in virtual world like World Of Warcraft, strategize and even make plans for dinner. He told me he was scared that when his kids take over his company they would fire him (laughs). They will expect all their data to be published to the Cloud and ensure that it is readily accessible to people with the right authority when they want it. They will want their PLM to be 3D driven and in the Cloud.

Deelip: Do you think that by taking CAD and PLM to the Cloud Dassault Systemes will be at an advantage with respect to your competitors. I understand that apart from Autodesk, none of your other competitors have made their Cloud plans public. That’s assuming that they do have such plans.

Jacques: Yes, I believe Dassault Systemes will be at a significant advantage with the direction that we are taking. But its one thing to wish to do something and its quite another to actually have the technology to do it. We will differentiate ourselves from companies that use the old CAD and PDM document based approach. I am absolutely sure that we are on the right track.