SOLIDWORKS 2016 All About Productivity and Technology
Shawn Wasserman posted on October 26, 2015 |

Co-author: Roopiner Tara

SOLIDWORKS CEO Gian Paolo Bassi talks at the SOLIDWORKS Launch 2016.

SOLIDWORKS CEO Gian Paolo Bassi talks at the SOLIDWORKS Launch 2016.

SOLIDWORKS’ top office is now held by mechanical engineer Gian Paolo Bassi. Listening to him speak at the Q&A session during the SOLIDWORKS 2016 launch in Boston revealed the depth of his passion for SOLIDWORKS and the engineering community it serves.

“I am spending 80 percent of my time on the road, all over the world,” says Bassi. “I talk with lots of people and I see there is a mutual love. There isn’t another word. It’s love.”

“We understand very well what makes people successful and productive,” says Bassi. “Every time we disconnect with that thinking we make mistakes. [But now] I hope we are connected. I am a relatively new face to the SOLIDWORKS customers and I hope they understand that we get them and what they are telling us. That they like innovation and new things and our experiments but the priority is to make things happen faster, better and more innovative. I hope this is the message we get through.”

Bassi wants the direction of SOLIDWORKS under his lead to be about being productive with the software you have, not the software somebody thinks you need. Top priority is the software, which continues to be the most widely used professional mechanical design application. This is promised by an engineer to engineers.

SOLIDWORKS Online 

SOLIDWORKS Online works over a web browser. So is this cloud? Bassi says no… kind of. Image courtesy of SOLIDWORKS.

SOLIDWORKS Online works over a web browser. So is this cloud? Bassi says no… kind of. Image courtesy of SOLIDWORKS.

Still, Gian Paolo Bassi, the technologist, can’t help expressing his love for a technology that is still a large part of his user-base. He introduced us to SOLIDWORKS online.

“It’s not only the technology, though that is critical,” he says.  “SOLIDWORKS Online shows we are changing our way of thinking. Our way of relating to customers with easier access, faster access and more flexibility.”

“Today it isn’t easy to get SOLIDWORKS. You have to deal with VARs, licenses, CD installs, and computer hardware,” said Bassi.

That is why Bassi believes that SOLIDWORKS online is a good step forward. It empowers as many people as possible with CAD technology.

To that end, Bassi hinted at the possibility of hourly rentals of SOLIDWORKS Online and/or a subscription platform. However, he wasn’t able to comment on pricing as it is currently only available to VARs wishing to show off SOLIDWORKS to potential customers. “We want to believe that there is a place for VARs even in the online world,” said Bassi.

Head Not in the Cloud

Unlike other organizations moving their technology online, Bassi stressed that he didn’t want to hear the word cloud being tossed around too much. He’s sick of it and believes that the users are as well.

“Customers don’t care about cloud,” joked Bassi. “They care about what makes them more productive. It turns out, however, that the cloud makes them more productive and more involved in many ways. But customers are slightly irritated about the cloud hype. Sure the tools have better design and collaboration but they don’t want to be told they have to migrate or be obsolete.”

Bassi believes the cloud is being over marketed. “We stayed out of the cloud. With others, it’s ‘cloud, cloud, cloud.’ Then you go under the hood and they didn’t change anything. They are just a cloud company now and the stocks rise. We don’t need to impress our customers [with the cloud].”

“We don’t believe cloud means you run everything in the browser,” continued Bassi. “Some say it needs to be 100% in the browser to be cloud, but who cares? We want it to be right and usable. We want to adopt all the values of the cloud, but not exclusively running in the browser as there are limitations.”

For Bassi, he envisions the cloud technically starts when you have a portion of the workflow or data collection outside of the desktop’s boundary. If you connect to a server, become a member of the community and have the option to work on your own or share your work with the community then you are in the cloud. However, this shouldn’t be the selling point in and of itself. What should be the focus is functionality and productivity. At the end of the day that is what the engineers care about, not buzzwords.

SOLIDWORKS New User Interface 

SOLIDWORKS new UI promises improved workflows designed by users and human behaviour. Picture taken at SOLIDWORKS 2016 launch.
SOLIDWORKS new UI promises improved workflows designed by users and human behaviour. Picture taken at SOLIDWORKS 2016 launch.
SOLIDWORKS new UI promises improved workflows designed by users and human behaviour. Picture taken at SOLIDWORKS 2016 launch

Another new look to SOLIDWORKS comes from the updated user interface (UI).

Though it will take time for people to get used to it, Kishore Boyalakuntla, senior director and leader of product management organization at Dassault Systèmes SOLIDWORKS, assured users that their input was taken into consideration with the overhaul. This aligns nicely with Bassi’s message of communication with the users.

“The feedback in SOLIDWORKS 2016 Beta 1 told us the new UI went too far,” said Boyalakuntla. “We fixed this in Beta 2 and even more in Beta 3.” Clearly the team wanted to make sure the core user base wasn’t shaken by the new release.

“Some don’t like icons popping up,” admitted Boyalakuntla, “but the general consensus is if you use SOLIDWORKS 2016 for a few hours you will see that it [makes] a better workflow. Of course there are those that love 2015 and 2014 and say that change is hard. We will address those customers. But generally people that go from 2016 back to 2015 find that they want to go back.”

However, Bassi explained that it wasn’t just users that gave their input to improve the SOLIDWORKS UI. Many of the changes were actually based on estimations of human behaviour, or psychology.

“We have a team dedicated to the user interface and interface design. They were not developers, but experts in human behaviour, they are psychologists,” said Bassi. “We are very progressive with changes, we don’t move things around for the sake of it.”

SOLIDWORKS the Benefactor

Some of SOLIDWORKS’ outreach with the Fab Labs. Image taken at SOLIDWORKS World 2015.

Some of SOLIDWORKS’ outreach with the Fab Labs. Image taken at SOLIDWORKS World 2015.

As for a global view, Bassi said he has spent much of his time as CEO traveling to entrepreneur incubators. He noted how many of them are using SOLIDWORKS despite the availability of other software they can get for free.

These incubators initially paid for the full license of SOLIDWORKS before learning there was a free version for start-ups and entrepreneurs. When Bassi found out, he promised a refund.

“We want to empower everyone to solve the problems that they do and share value with the rest of the world,” remarked Bassi. “This is the new economy we see more and more. A few years back incubators didn’t exist, but now they are popping up around the world along with FABLABS and makerspaces. These groups have been created to help people produce things.”

Bassi notes that these new incubators for invention and innovation are working. He said, “People tell us ‘you make our things possible; because of you I made this company.’ It’s a fantastic thing!”

These makerspaces and entrepreneurial incubators are expanding the world of engineering to younger, more diverse audiences. Many of these budding engineers would never have had access to CAD/CAE software in the past.

As for the role of SOLIDWORKS in the future of these groups, Bassi said, “I hope this online version of SOLIDWORKS is the beginning of something much bigger. We are thinking about a new type of education and spending initiative to get more youth and women into engineering. We want kids at an early age to think about technology and engineering. The kids are amazing, they always ask the difficult questions. They push our imagination beyond what’s possible, as they don’t have the background to know what isn’t possible. They think, why not? It’s a good question: Why Not.”

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