Is 3DEXPERIENCE For Everyone?

After reading the comments to my last two posts on 3DEXPERIENCE I feel my readers think that it is nonsense. This is important because Dassault Systemes CEO Bernard Charles is spending boatloads of money building the 3DEXPERIENCE platform and giving rise to 3DEXPERIENCE universes. I remember him mention this during the press conference at the recently concluded Dassault Systemes 3DEXPERIENCE FORUM Europe held in Brussels, “We do this every ten years or so. This is as big as what we did with PLM in 1999. We are spending millions of dollars acquiring key technologies that will help to build our 3DEXPERIENCE platform.” He went on to add, “You should stop comparing us with our competitors. Nobody else is doing this.

So if I understand Bernard Charles correctly this is clearly the direction Dassault Systemes has charted for itself for the next decade or so. 3DEXPERIENCE does not appear to be a marketing buzzword for the next release of one of their many products. Apparently the company truly believes that there is something very real here.

But if people think 3DEXPERIENCE is nonsense then maybe they haven’t understood what it means or Dassault Systemes hasn’t explained it to them properly. However I don’t believe either is true. Here is part of a comment Aurelien Blaha from Dassault Systemes left on my blog post “What Exactly Is 3DEXPERIENCE?

Your summary of the idea of 3DEXPERIENCE (“tools and/or infrastructure to not just help people build better products, but also help the end users of these products have a great experience as they use the product”) is right to the point and yes, it’s that simple.

So if this is what 3DEXPERIENCE actually is and customers think its nonsense then we have a problem. Actually the problem is both for Dassault Systemes as well its customers. Dassault Systemes because they are building something that customers don’t feel they need and hence probably won’t use. Customers because they would prefer Dassault Systemes spend their money and resources doing something more useful to them.

One of the speeches at the 3DEXPERIENCE FORUM was by Joe Pine, author of the famous book “The Experience Economy“. Every attendee was given a copy of his book. I started reading it on my flight back home. It’s quite an interesting book and I truly get this whole concept that experiences are much larger and more important than just products. It definitely matters in a B2C market. What I’m trying to figure out is whether experiences are as important in the B2B scenario. I’m basically asking a very simple question: “Is 3DEXPERIENCE for everyone?

Let’s say a car manufacturer embraces the Dassault Systemes 3DEXPERIENCE platform in all its glory and gives customers the ability to customize their car using various pieces of the 3DEXPERIENCE platform along with augmented reality, virtual reality or whatever other form of reality exists today. That makes perfect sense. That particular car manufacturer will stand out from the competition by offering customers a 3D experience instead of a mere product. People will flock to buy their cars. Dassault Systemes 3DEXPERIENCE rules. Case closed.

But what about the company that manufactures the wheel bearings of that car. The poor chaps use good old SolidWorks and I’m not sure what kind of 3D experience they can offer their customer (the car manufacturer) who buys their products by the truck load. Do they roll out a red carpet for every forklift that picks up a box of bearings from the delivery truck and places them on a rack in the store? This is a B2B scenario. I’m not sure how 3DEXPERIENCE fits in here. I would really like someone to enlighten me.

The answer to my question “Is 3DEXPERIENCE for everyone?” is either yes or no. If it’s no then it probably explain why my readers think 3DEXPERIENCE is nonsense. It also means that Dassault Systemes is going to spend the next decade or so building a platform that a minority of their customers will use. The one’s probably selling to consumers directly as opposed to other businesses.

If the answer to my question is yes then the concept of 3DEXPERIENCE should apply to Dassault Systemes as well. I would like to know what the company has done to offer a better 3D experience to its own customers. I mean the users of its software products. Do SolidWorks resellers send a bouquet of roses along with a box of SolidWorks software? Do they personalize the DVD with the customer’s name on it? Do DraftSight users get a different experience from users of any other 2D CAD system? Today they go to a web site, click a download link, install the software and use it. How is that different from what everyone else does? I speak of SolidWorks and DraftSight because those are the Dassault Systemes brands I interact with. But I’m guessing you could ask the same questions for all other Dassault Systemes brands as well. Someone please tell me how has Dassault Systemes improved the 3D experience of their customers given that they claim to be “The 3DEXPERIENCE Company”.

On more than one occasion I have heard Dassault Systemes executives speak of a “virtual 3D store experience” where people can go buy items in a virtual online 3D store as if they were shopping in the real thing. Yet they own SolidWorks Merchandise Store is a boring bunch of static web pages with pictures and text on it just like any other web store on the internet.

Maybe Dassault Systemes should eat their own dog food first before dishing it out to their customers. Maybe they could start by converting their ordinary web sites into engaging 3D experiences.

If you are a Dassault Systemes customer I invite you to leave a comment explaining how the company is selling you experiences and not just products.