PLM and the Importance of Experience
Experiences have value, says Joseph Pine II, cofounder of Strategic Horizons LLP (strategichorizons.com). Case in point: Starbucks has created a place where people want to spend their time. And lots of money. Or consider the depths of customer loyalty in Apple mobile devices. So, Pine continues, “innovate in experiences, using digital technology to augment our reality” because “we can now build things digitally out of digital substances. When going from atoms to bits, there truly is infinite possibility. You define exactly the right opportunity amidst that infinite possibility by envisioning and engendering and encountering experiences that were never before possible.” That’s the basis of the 3D from Dassault Systemes (3ds.com).
Virtual + Real
“It is clear today that when you buy a smartphone, the object itself has a certain value,” says Bernard Charlès, Dassault’s president and CEO. “But the physical object—as it is connected to a collection of services—is the real experience you get from it.” However, “do you create experience with PLM program management?” asks Monica Menghini rhetorically. She is Dassault’s executive vice president for industry, marketing & corporate communications. Her answer: “No. You have to create everything with a specific platform that is meant to provide you everything that is needed to simulate, think, and craft an experience in the virtual world before you put it into the real world.”
As Charlès puts it, the auto industry has to go from vehicle attributes to vehicle experience.
Understanding that experience is the goal of all the software brands and products under what Dassault is calling the “3DExperience.” There are the 3D modeling applications, such as Catia and SolidWorks, that provide in-context virtualization and class-A surfacing. There are the content and simulation applications: Delmia, for manufacturing; Simulia, for virtual simulation; and 3DVia, for consumer experience. Add Exalead and Netvibes—“analytics” software, but what Dassault calls “information intelligence” applications. Last, the social collaborative applications that connect people together in an organized way—Enovia and 3DSwym—using structured and unstructured (“big”) data. Throughout, mobile connectivity will be essential for entering, accessing, analyzing, and displaying information, experiences, and the products that come as a result.
“This is about mathematics and science, not software,” says Charlès. And yet it is the software that “elevates simulation to match reality. The 3DExperience is not only to improve products and services, but to also understand the effect of what we do on people and society at large.” But that comes with caveats, Charlès points out. One, “It takes a lot of attention to digitize your company.” Two, “When I make a decision, do I understand all the effects of that decision on the entire lifecycle of the product or service we deliver to you? We know how to manage transactions, but we don’t know how to manage the innovation pipeline.”
Be social—to be innovative
Which leads to an interesting comment from Menghini: “We are moving from a PLM company to a 3DExperience company. PLM was too restrictive. The `P’ in `PLM’ is not the whole thing.” This change is because “social is the new way of doing business.” Technologically, it’s because the software enabling social interactions is structuring the unstructured data from “crowd sourcing.” The resulting structure helps convert the nebulous process of “innovation” into products that people will want to buy.
Tim Yeardon, director, global innovation, design, R&D, for Visteon Automotive Systems (visteon.com), is a believer. “How do you translate the unmet consumer needs back into the experience that ultimately ends up in some sort of product? It’s that collaboration, that tying together, that’s important.” For that, Visteon focused on 3DSwym, a social-interaction application that combines social collaboration, indexing, semantic analysis, and intelligent dashboarding. “When I got into this industry almost 20 years ago, it was all about R&D spend. That was the measure of how innovative you were before `innovation’ was trendy. Then it went to `co-creation,’ especially on the supply side. I see in the future a combination of open innovation: social media coming together for innovation—get real-time feedback in an emerging market where you don’t have the people on the ground to go execute something immediately.”
Visteon e-Bee (see: autofieldguide.com/columns/on-electronics(12) ) is an example of applying social media to product innovation, in this case, a car designed to make the owner’s driving (and car-ownership) experience enjoyable. “Usually we design one concept and we’re lucky we get it done. Because of efficiencies through 3DSwym, we’ve been able to design three concept cars. Now, management would have difficulty with us building three concept cars simultaneously, but we can build one physical vehicle [for European consumers], then digitally build in Catia the North American version that fits the tastes and desires of the North American consumer, and another digital one for the China version.”
Create that more-compelling consumer experience
What’s in it for the companies implementing all this computer design/manufacturing/social stuff? Pine says, “You can stay in the safety of past practices and keep on doing the same things that you’ve always been doing. In which case, mark my words, you will be commoditized. Or you can shift up this progression of economic value, staging wondrous 3D experiences for each one of your individual customers. In which case, you’ll be economically rewarded.”
By James Gaffney, Product Engineer, Precision Grinding and Patrick D. Redington, Manager, Precision Grinding Business Unit, Norton Company (Worcester, MA)
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