Dassault Hopes to Penetrate AEC with “Industrialized Construction”
Bruce Jenkins posted on June 30, 2015 | 13003 views

Industry ViewBruce Jenkins

Bruce Jenkins, President, Ora Research

Dassault Systèmes stepped up its push into the AEC market with new “industry solution experiences” for Façade Design for Fabrication, Optimized Construction, and most recently Civil Design for Fabrication.

“Collaborative and industrialized construction” is how Dassault sums up its value proposition for AEC. The company says of itself: “Based on its long experience helping the manufacturing industry achieve improvements, Dassault Systèmes offers the construction industry solutions powered by its 3DEXPERIENCE Platform that help realize ‘the industrialization of construction’.”

Whether this will be enough for Dassault to take significant market share away from its long-established, hugely popular rivals in AEC is an open question. A latecomer to AEC—apart from the somewhat opportunistic partnership it entered with Gehry Technologies in 2005—Dassault faces formidably entrenched competitors in Autodesk, Bentley, Robert McNeel and others.

Part of Dassault’s strategy for breaking into AEC is to leverage its expertise and technological prowess in industrial fabrication. Beyond that, instead of competing mainly head-to-head with its design-tool rivals, it hopes to differentiate its AEC offerings by emphasizing their underlying capabilities for managing information and workflows, including data from competitors’ design software. Dassault says these capabilities will enable “real-time process and cost visualization, efficient construction using prefabricated components, just-in-time delivery of materials and information, cash flow improvement, and efficient collaboration among all stakeholders.”

Even here, however, Dassault faces substantial competition from well regarded, widely accepted products offering similar functionality—Autodesk Vault Collaboration for AEC, Autodesk Buzzsaw, Autodesk’s cloud-based A360, Bentley’s ProjectWise and AssetWise, and others.

Dassault is fortunate to have a handful of executives who know AEC inside out. Marty Doscher, Dassault’s Vice President for AEC industry, is the founder of a BIM consulting firm called Synthesis Technology Integration and was formerly IT Director at Morphosis, the highly respected architecture and planning practice. But Doscher and his colleagues have their work cut out for them educating Dassault’s manufacturing-oriented salesforce in the ways of AEC—or else recruiting a new sales overlay organization dedicated to AEC business development.

Given all this, Dassault will very likely pursue the tried-and-true practice learned from its former partner, IBM, of breaking into this new market top-down. That means selling the business benefits of its solutions to C-level executives, while bypassing many of the people who will be the hands-on users of its tools. In large manufacturing enterprises, this approach has historically served Dassault well. How effective it proves in AEC will doubtless be closely watched by vendors from whom Dassault hopes to win market share.

Bruce Jenkins is president of Ora Research, a research and advisory services firm focused on technology business strategy for 21st-century engineering practice. www.oraresearch.com

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