The “Amazon of PLM”: Dassault Systèmes’ Disruptive 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace
Verdi Ogewell posted on February 15, 2018 |

What is the “secret” of true visionaries and innovators? While there are probably many, one of them is clearly the view from where they stand.

Like Isaac Newton said, "If I can see further than anyone else, it's only because I'm standing on the shoulders of giants." This line rings true to this day: Would Steve Jobs have invented the smartphone without Motorola's Martin Cooper having already created the mobile phone? Such is progress: A combination of new dreams, old realities and the strength to realize ideas.

Dassault Systèmes’ CEO, Bernard Charles, is a man with innovative dreams. He also took the PLM idea further by introducing the basic principles of a Product Innovation Platform, reflected in the 3DEXPERIENCE concept. But like all innovators, he too is “standing on the shoulders of giants.” For example, without PTC founder Samuel Geisberg’s, ingenious parametric, associative feature-based, solid CAD modeling solution, or Bill Gates’ Microsoft solutions, PLM wouldn’t look the same. 

Now Charles and his team has come up with an innovation: The “3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace.”

“With 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace, we transform the supply chain into a value chain; a single, virtual, social, entrepreneurial and a groundbreaking new way of doing business,” says Charlès.

So, what is this new marketplace about? Is it really a new, disruptive idea? And how far from realization is it?

With the 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace, we transform the supply chain into a value chain; a single, virtual, social, entrepreneurial and groundbreaking new way of doing business, says Dassault Systèmes’ Bernard Charles. (Image from Getty Images.)
With the 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace, we transform the supply chain into a value chain; a single, virtual, social, entrepreneurial and groundbreaking new way of doing business, says Dassault Systèmes’ Bernard Charles. (Image from Getty Images.)

The Internet has transformed the way we buy things as private individuals. Although online retailers do not erase the importance of traditional retail stores, much has changed when consumers are increasingly shopping over the Internet. New shopping patterns are being established and new players are blossoming from nothing to globally dominant trading positions. Amazon and Alibaba are just two expressions of this transformation.

But what does it look like on the industrial and product development side? Although online ordering already exists in different forms, Dassault Systemès and Charles claim that there is a lot left to do in this space. The digital market is still fragmented. You can order parts or components, but what about entire projects?  

This is the background of the now-launched "3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace." It’s intended as an online ecosystem for industrial services and content providers.

In total Dassault Systèmes has gathered 50 "digital manufacturers" with more than 500 machines and 30 million components from 600 suppliers to assist companies when they source, develop and manufacture their products.

According to Dassault Systèmes, with this initiative the world gets a "disruptive online trading platform, which is the first retail solution of its kind."

"The Renaissance in today's industrial operations extends beyond just some kind of general digitization to the emergence of new players and new categories of solutions, processes and services that prioritize sustainable innovation through increased productivity," says Charles.

The gist of the reasoning is that Dassault Systèmes’ customers can now easily collaborate and trade with other industries and service providers.

THE ”AMAZON FOR INDUSTRY.” The cloud-based marketplace is a new trading platform for digital design, engineering and manufacturing transactions, with ambitions to transform the industrial world in the same way that the world’s largest online consumer marketplace has transformed legacy retail.
THE ”AMAZON FOR INDUSTRY.” The cloud-based marketplace is a new trading platform for digital design, engineering and manufacturing transactions, with ambitions to transform the industrial world in the same way that the world’s largest online consumer marketplace has transformed legacy retail.

"The Supply Chain Will Become a Value Chain"

As usual Bernard Charles promotes the company’s 3DEXPERIENCE platform,”With this marketplace, we can innovate and create value in industry. Online platforms and marketplaces have already transformed retail, transportation and hospitality services—now it's time to get ready, and the world of industry is the next platform for transformation.”

Dassault Systèmes’ product manager for the 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace, Guillaume Drapier, agrees. "This novel tool will connect suppliers and customers for manufacturing," he said during a conference in Shanghai, China. "A client will be able to specify what they want to manufacture and find the right supplier. Anyone will be able to use it - people who have things to manufacture will be meeting people who can manufacture things."

Recognized Experts in Their Domains

Charles further states that companies wishing to identify new service providers, including 3D printing services, or who want specific components or services for their design environment now have access to on-demand manufacturing, intelligent part/component delivery and other services. This will streamline collaboration and overall innovation processes.

As of today, the 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace’s ecosystem of manufacturers, and suppliers are all, according to Dassault Systèmes, "recognized experts in their domains."  With this collection of players on the platform, it will be possible to iterate on design and manufacturing specifications to make sure that a part or product can be manufactured and reduce risks and errors.

"You will also be able to handle all aspects of a transaction between buyers and sellers, such as payments, currencies and billing, and provide a documentation of each transaction for complete traceability," asserts Charles.

How the 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace is Supposed to Work

Imagine that you want to produce a part for a car. It all starts with the creation of your design in a 3D system–preferably in CATIA or SOLIDWORKS. The next step is to upload your model onto the platform. After that it’s time to specify how you want the part to be made: things like techniques, materials, and time frame.

The platform will respond with a list of potential manufacturers. Once you post your request you can start to negotiate with prospective suppliers. This discussion takes place “inside” the project framework on the platform, and ideally ends up in an agreement on specifications and costs. Finally, you pay for the purchase - all within Marketplace.

This is how Dassault describes it on their web site:

1. Identify the best partner for every project

Leverage a qualified ecosystem of industrial manufacturing service providers and identify the best partner based on your specifications.

2. Go straight from design to parts

Accessible from SOLIDWORKS & CATIA allowing the fastest end-to-end design to part workflow

3. Optimize your collaboration process

Communicate effortlessly from request to delivery with in-app messaging and 3D-based collaboration to iterate on design and manufacturing specifications.

4. Reduce errors and risks

Ensure your designs are ready to be manufactured with process-driven specifications, geometry check and repair and design for manufacturing feedback.

5. Ensure traceability for your business

Benefit from traceability of all Buyer-Seller exchanges, order modifications and part updates, as well as full historization of past orders and invoices.

A BLOCKBUSTER AT SOLIDWORKS WORLD. The cloud-based marketplace was one of the major announcements during SOLIDWORKS World in Los Angeles. The system allows SOLIDWORKS and CATIA users to find manufacturers who can produce the designed parts. One blogger described the solution this way: “In other words, you don’t just “throw it over the wall” at the makers, instead you communicate with them iteratively to refine the design to the end goal.”
A BLOCKBUSTER AT SOLIDWORKS WORLD. The cloud-based marketplace was one of the major announcements during SOLIDWORKS World in Los Angeles. The system allows SOLIDWORKS and CATIA users to find manufacturers who can produce the designed parts. One blogger described the solution this way: “In other words, you don’t just “throw it over the wall” at the makers, instead you communicate with them iteratively to refine the design to the end goal.”

The Vision Will Take Time to Realize

As usual, the charismatic Bernard Charles is a rhetorician of great measure, and his ability to present visions as largely complete solutions is certainly impressive. It is clear that the cloud-based market is a new trading platform that doubtless has a lot of room for current development—such as digital design, technology and manufacturing transactions. However, there are some indications that we will have to wait for the full realization of Charles's magnificent vision.  

While 50 "digital manufacturers" is certainly is a start, from the global perspective, 50 companies are a limited number. 

Also, the ambition to transform the industrial world in the same way as the world's consumer market has been transformed will take time, and it is far from certain that Dassault Systèmes will be the only company offering a platform in this space.

It is of course possible that the 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace can be one of several platform offerings, but if you want to go beyond that, it requires a level of transparency and compatibility that Dassault Systèmes, so far, hasn’t been known for.

For those who work with 3DEXPERIENCE solutions, there is undoubtedly a lot of potential, but there are several vendors of software and services in the product manufacturing world. Diversity is a typical feature of the industrial IT landscapes, and what you buy and sell on a public marketplace must be compatible with many other offerings.

Not all users will be comfortable relying on Dassault Systèmes to certify the providers, facilitate the exchange of information, and process the financial transactions. Some users may foresee potential problems arising from, for example, incompatibility of data across platforms.

THE SOLIDWORKS CHIEF’S VIEW. Gian Paolo Bassi said, ”I am fascinated by what Amazon became in a kind of ‘serendipitous’ way. They started selling books, then they had this amazing vision of AWS (Amazon Web Services), you know, opening the platform to everybody else.”
THE SOLIDWORKS CHIEF’S VIEW. Gian Paolo Bassi said, ”I am fascinated by what Amazon became in a kind of ‘serendipitous’ way. They started selling books, then they had this amazing vision of AWS (Amazon Web Services), you know, opening the platform to everybody else.”

“From Books to Web Services to Delivering Food”

So, how disruptive is this marketplace idea?

Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks’ CEO, Gian Paolo Bassi, gives us an interesting perspective. During the recent SolidWorks World 2018 in Los Angeles he said to engineering.com, “Disruptive? Well, I am fascinated by what Amazon became in a kind of ‘serendipitous’ way. They started selling books, then they had this amazing vision of AWS (Amazon Web Services), you know, opening the platform to everybody else.”

And then they went on delivering more than books; they started services, they started Prime subscriptions, they started delivering food. Basically, their obsession is about reducing friction. We are in the age of convenience. The expectation today is in extreme convenience to get things done. And then they are using machine learning and AI on a massive scale to even try to read your mind to make the experience of shopping even easier.”

Bassi’s conclusion is that the opportunities here are massive, and can lead further than anyone can imagine,  pointing at this analogy as a reflection of what the 3DEXPERIENCE platform and the Marketplace promises.

There is nothing wrong with Charles’ or Bassi’s enthusiasm, but I wouldn’t describe this initiative as disruptive. It is interesting and promising though, and even the longest journey begins with a single step.

And Bernard Charles has made several long, successful trips before.

It will be interesting to see how tough competitor Siemens PLM will respond to this initiative.


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