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Secret keeping and privacy the basis for business: Dassault Systemes

Dassault Systemes believes its success in winning highly classified projects with governments around the world, including a submarine contract with the Australian government, is built on good secret management.

Dassault Systemes counts Airbus, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, the United States and French governments, as well as a Russian nuclear company among some of its existing customers, citing good secret and privacy management as the key reason why.

The Australian government has now been added to that list of customers, after French-based company DCNS signed a partnership deal to help design 12 future submarines using Dassault Systemes' 3DExperience platform. The platform will be used to manage the entire lifecycle of the submarines, from concept to engineering, building, maintaining, and operations.

According to Dassault Systemes founding member and EVP of global affairs and communities Philippe Forestier, the key to gaining the trust of so many high-ranking customers is a matter of being a good secret keeper, which involves complying with regional privacy regulations.

"Our DNA is very much orientated to secret management; we are used to that," Forestier told ZDNet.

"We are working with some the most prestigious companies, and many of our people have access to the future generation of planes, cars that are not on the market yet, so they cannot share. It is part of our culture to make sure we keep this very, very well."

Forestier believes the secret to that has been the company's success in building a collaborative environment through its 3DExperience platform, which he said gives customers the opportunity to be "the most effective and most competitive when they are protecting their proprietary".

Forestier went on to say that due to the secretiveness of its customers, a majority continue to consume Dassault Systemes' products on-premises, and only recently has he seen a shift towards to the cloud. He said the shift has mostly been made by universities, while governments or those orientated around defence continue to consume their solutions via on-premises products.

On the point of collaboration, Forestier believes it is one area that needs to be taught at university, pointing out that the consequence could result in the disconnection of business processes or siloed operations.

"When you're at university, you learn things but you don't learn very well on how to collaborate with others. But when you're in the industry, the first thing you do is you never work alone. You carry out projects with a team and this team can be global ... so I think it's important to understand the way to collaborate," he said.

He added that Dassault Systemes is pushing for education systems globally to be overhauled to ensure collaboration, along with system engineering -- another area that Forestier pointed out lacks current interest -- become key subjects that are taught at universities.

In addition, Forestier believes that industries also have a responsibility to collaborate with universities.

"We have to change the education system starting at the very early age to give the appetite of science and technology to young people, and making sure that we adhere to good collaboration between universities and the industry," he said.

"The industry has the liability and responsibility to collaborate with universities to make sure they attract the right talent, and make sure there is collaboration to attract the right talent. And after that making sure the talent inside the companies are trained on those new technologies."

Dassault Systemes' deal with the Australian government forms part of the government's AU$50 billion future submarine project announced in April. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said at the time that the project will be the "largest and most complex defence acquisition Australia has ever undertaken".

Disclosure: Aimee Chanthadavong travelled to Canberra as a guest of Dassault Systemes.