PLM METAspectrum Leaders: Dassault Systemes

Dassault Systemes (DS) has continued to do well in a tough market. It has deepened the functionality in its core applications of product data management and collaborative product design, has improved interoperability within its product set, and remains a favorite of heavy industry.
Written by Bruce Hudson, Contributor

Dassault Systemes (DS) has continued to do well in a tough market. It has deepened the functionality in its core applications of product data management and collaborative product design, has improved interoperability within its product set, and remains a favorite of heavy industry. Its biggest challenge lies in its ability to expand into other industry verticals, particularly in light of its largest partner's (IBM) affection for other product life-cycle management (PLM) vendors (especially MatrixOne).

META Trend: By 2004, product life-cycle information management (PLIM) will emerge as the more appropriate platform on which to build Web services-based collaborative e-business initiatives. With a focus on unifying product information as the bridge between suppliers and customers, PLIM will replace simple B2B integration logistic transactions for collaborative product design and introduction by 2006. PLIM process networks will emerge in 2007 to subsume manufacturer needs for linear business process integration.

In the 2003 PLM METAspectrumSM, we evaluated seven Tier 1 PLM vendors, each capable of delivering an enterprise PLM backbone. Vendors’ market presence and performance were rated and comparatively ranked across 15 main criteria and 53 subcriteria. The METAspectrum methodology groups vendors into three categories: leaders, challengers, and followers. DS, evaluated with its partner, IBM, emerged in the leader band (see Figure 1). Its financial performance, execution, and services drove its performance rating, while its market penetration, global reach, and partnerships (it indeed has partners beyond IBM) heavily influenced its presence rating. This Delta will examine more closely some of the strengths and weaknesses of DS that were uncovered in the METAspectrum process.

We evaluated DS with IBM in the METAspectrum because of the unique relationship between the two companies. IBM is DS’s primary sales, marketing, and implementation partner, to the extent that license revenues are shared equally between the two companies (for Catia, Enovia, and SmarTeam). While IBM clearly plays a significant role in the success of DS, DS is the PLM vendor of the two. Thus, this Delta focuses on DS alone.

Horizontal PLM Coverage. DS’s messaging, labeling itself as “the 3D company,” focuses on the design aspect of the product life cycle and conflicts with our view of PLM. META Group’s evaluation, while recognizing the importance and customer impact of DS’s create solutions (i.e., Catia, SolidWorks), focuses on the management of corporate intellectual capital throughout the extended value chain. Fortunately, DS is not trapped by its tag line and delivers horizontal PLM coverage via its brands, Enovia, SmarTeam, and Delmia (manufacturing process management software - see Figure 2), marketed by business units with the same names. DS has essentially two faces. One is for the most complex processes and products, found in the automotive, aerospace, shipbuilding, and heavy-equipment industries. Enovia serves these verticals, and its tight interoperability with Catia is invaluable. The other face is that of the CAD-agnostic PLM vendor focused on industries other than the four previously mentioned. SmarTeam serves these customers.

Enovia is an extremely capable collaborative product data management solution best suited for large-scale complex implementations. It delivers its greatest value when working together with Catia. An IBM WebSphere-based portal provides its collaborative environment, while Lotus delivers collaborative features. For other PLM functionality, Enovia users must consider SmarTeam, DS partners (e.g., i2 for direct sourcing), or best-of-breed vendors.

SmarTeam, a separate platform from Enovia, is a lighterweight but more flexible PLM application that features broader PLM functionality (e.g., PDM, visualization, digital mock-up, direct sourcing, collaborative product design, requirements management). SmarTeam is crucial to DS’s future PLM strategy. Because of its CAD-agnostic nature as well as its workflow and business process modeling capabilities, it is more suitable in various industries where the value of PLM goes beyond managing Catia data (e.g., CPG, high tech, life sciences). The latest release, V5R12, has improved interoperability with Enovia and Catia, and also has improved collaborative features. Its sourcing functionality is adequate for basic request-for-quote processes, but users should consider best-of-breed vendors (e.g., Emptoris, Agile, Frictionless Commerce) for deeper functionality. Project management can be handled in SmarTeam or with MS Project, but product portfolio management functionality is missing. Partner IDe delivers PPM functionality that offers out-of-the-box integration with SmarTeam. SmarTeam’s decision support features are promising. No vendor has strength in this area; SmarTeam is evolving in the right direction (see Figure 3).

So far, DS’s strategy has been to partner with other vendors (e.g., Engineous, IDe, i2) for extended PLM functionality (i.e., functionality other than PDM and collaborative product design). However, we believe the market will force DS to deliver increasingly more of this functionality natively. With the current weak market and its relative strength, DS would do well to emulate Agile Software and make acquisitions to expand its PLM portfolio.

Vertical Coverage. DS is dominant in the aerospace and defense, automotive, shipbuilding, and heavy-equipment industries. These industries have intensive geometry requirements, long product life cycles and project life cycles necessitating highly scalable data management solutions, and large enough budgets to afford the integration and PLM business process services that are needed to execute a global, long-term PLM strategy. These characteristics make these industries the target of IBM as well. Primarily through SmarTeam, DS is targeting smaller companies and suppliers in its key verticals (see Figure 3), as well as consumer packaged goods. Its technology is FDA 21 CFR 11 compliant, making it an option for the medical device, pharmaceutical, and food-product industries. In the less geometry-intensive verticals, DS’s success will be greatly influenced by how well it builds out its horizontal functionality and augments that with industry-specific solutions.

Technology. In addition to sales and implementation services, IBM provides essential elements of the DS V5R12 architecture. The foundation architecture of the Catia, Enovia, and Delmia products is separate from that of SmarTeam. However, all utilize WebSphere Portal Server, WebSphere Application Server, MQSeries Message Server, WebSphere Business Integration, and DB2. This is an obvious advantage for organizations that already have WebSphere and DB2 software and support in-house. It also favors systems integrators boasting extensive WebSphere experience (e.g., IBM BCS). Enovia runs on Unix flavors as well as Windows, while SmarTeam is designed for a Microsoft environment. With .Net support, SmarTeam is positioned to take advantage of seamless integration to Microsoft technologies. Both product lines are capable of managing federated databases, making them suitable for geographically dispersed operations. DS is increasingly making use of Web services to integrate its modules across product lines. Although SmarTeam will be migrated to the same platform as Catia, Enovia, and Delmia, the Microsoft nature of the SmarTeam platform means that future acquisitions will be Windows compatible.

Partnerships and Future Direction. DS’s primary partner is IBM. This currently has far more advantages than disadvantages for DS. However, IBM is pragmatic in its market strategy, teaming with MatrixOne and other vendors for sales and implementations in industry verticals where DS is weak or not yet present. DS should reduce its risk (currently minimal) and forge additional partnerships, particularly in the case of SmarTeam, to help it into new industry verticals. DS will continue to dominate the largest of the large deals, primarily on the strength of its Catia product and its integration with Enovia and Delmia. If SmarTeam can break free of this shadow, it will, in time, prove to be an equal asset.

Business Impact: By leveraging an application portfolio and integrating with other core enterprise applications, companies can cover major PLM processes across the product life cycle, and deliver better products to market, faster and more economically.

Bottom Line: Dassault Systemes has a two-pronged approach to the market with its Enovia and SmarTeam products. Beyond core PLM functionality, users should consider partners to complete the PLM application portfolio. Catia users should consider Enovia. Light CAD users or Microsoft shops should consider SmarTeam. As always, users must look for reference installations for their particular needs.

META Group originally published this article on 5 January 2004.

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