Dassault Partner TECHNIA Bets on Big New Style of Online PLM Event
Verdi Ogewell posted on April 15, 2020 |
TECHNIA's annual PLM Innovation Forum goes digital and 100% online.

So far, the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis hasn’t materially affected all the global PLM players too hard or to the same extent. PLM consultancy and Dassault Systèmes’ CPE partner TECHNIA is one company that has so far seen limited effects as a result of several manufacturing companies pausing their plants. CPE stands for Customer Process Experience, which is the new name for the Value Solution channel.

"We’re carefully looking at the coming months in close dialogue with our customers," TECHNIA CEO Jonas Gejer says in today’s interview with engineering.com’s Verdi Ogewell.

"Manufacturing has been affected, which is linked to factors such as material and component shortages due to closed borders and delivery paths. However, engineering activities are continuing in most industries. We’re even more active than before, especially in the Life Science sectors, where we have several customers," he added.

How long the COVID-19 virus will keep the world under threat is currently unknown. However, one thing becomes clear as the weeks pass: We have seen an impressive display of creative power from many companies in the PLM and ERP areas. These players, like TECHNIA, are not sitting still in the boat; they are acting to produce interesting and exciting options for performing many aspects of product development-related activities.

Worth noting, TECHNIA is now taking just such an approach with this year’s version of its annual PLM Innovation Forum by launching the first digital, 100% online version of the event: PLMIF 2020 Virtual Experience.

So far, TECHNIA has weathered the coronavirus crisis without tough business interruptions—and now it’s establishing its PLM event as “a sustainable, digital experience.”

“The current global situation may even represent a breakthrough for digitally-held customer events,” says Gejer. “In fact, TECHNIA began planning a digitalized edition of its annual PLM Innovation Forum, abbreviated PLMIF, over twelve months ago.”

But customer events are one thing. What’s even more important for day-to-day operations is how the coronavirus crisis affects a top consultant such as TECHNIA. I discussed this topic with Gejer, who proved to be surprisingly positive given the tough effects many of the company's customers—and their competitors—are encountering in the wake of COVID-19.

“So far, we haven't been hit as hard as many others,” commented Gejer. “Customer projects are still running, and running according to plan, although we have been thinking out-of-the-box in how we set up customer contacts. But as we have extensive experience with digital deliveries, not least through our Indian subsidiary, things have gone well. However, this will develop in relation to the duration and effects of the coronavirus.”

BETS ON A BIG DIGITAL EVENT. The closure of a number of European manufacturing plants has so far not affected TECHNIA.

BETS ON A BIG DIGITAL EVENT. The closure of a number of European manufacturing plants has so far not affected TECHNIA. "Surprisingly little, anyway," says TECHNIA chief Jonas Gejer, in an interview with engineering.com’s Verdi Ogewell. "Manufacturing is shut down, yes, which is linked to factors such as material and component shortages in the traces of closed boundaries and delivery routes. But we usually get into the R&D side, and there, in general, business development work continues. In some cases, and for some companies, it even means significantly more to do than before, especially in the healthcare segment where we have several customers." 

It’s also important that TECHNIA is taking an exciting approach when it comes to the company's large user conference, PLM Innovation Forum. TECHNIA has decided to implement its first digital, 100% online version of the PLMIF event: PLM Innovation Forum Virtual Experience 2020.

Naturally, the new situation is not without challenges. Meetings that TECHNIA normally organized in the form of physical workshops in connection with—for example, defining a system's set-up—have instead been run virtually.

“Today we are trying to do it through a variety of virtual and remote tools. But putting together logic and processes requires more than these tools, so here we look at alternative solutions,” Gejer says.

TECHNIA Managing Without Tough Interruptions

“We study the development and the opportunities carefully,” says TECHNIA chief, Jonas Gejer.

“We study the development and the opportunities carefully,” says TECHNIA chief, Jonas Gejer.

Have factory closures, of which we have seen so many in the past weeks, greatly affected the work?

We’re carefully looking at the coming months in close dialogue with our customers. Yes, the closures are linked to factors such as material and component shortages due to closed borders and delivery paths. But we usually end up on the R&D side and there, in general, the companies' development work continues. In some cases, and for some companies, we’re even more active than before, especially in the life sciences and food and beverage where we have several customers."

The outlook for this global PLM consultancy is largely concerned with the ongoing effects and development of the coronavirus crisis. Whether they will take similar action to that of others in the consulting industry—such as short-term working hours under the possibilities that the government's multi-billion injection package has put on the table—remains to be seen.

“We’re studying the developments and opportunities carefully,” says Gejer. “The situation is complicated, and we must keep all doors open as long as this crisis continues. Of course, it is clear that all company executives are trying hard these days, but as I said—we are humble in the face of these events and grateful that we have managed so far without tough business interruptions.”

PLMIF – A Traditional Physical Event Becomes Digital

That being said about doing business under the spotlight of the coronavirus, today attention is directed to another particularly exciting feature of TECHNIA’s business: the attempt to establish a digital edition of the large user event PLMIF.

In its physical form, TECHNIA’s conference has undoubtedly been one of the strongest in the PLM area—which sets the bar quite high.

For example, at last year's in-person version of the PLMIF conference in Stockholm, Sweden, for the first time we saw truck manufacturer SCANIA's work with plans for its implementation of Dassault's 3DEXPERIENCE platform, called the "Starling Project." Engineering.com’s report on this subject attracted great international attention.

Engineering.com’s report on this attracted great international attention. Former PLM responsible at SCANIA, Anders Malmberg, got great reviews for his presentation of the company's PLM initiative
Engineering.com’s report on this attracted great international attention. Former PLM responsible at SCANIA, Anders Malmberg, got great reviews for his presentation of the company's PLM initiative "The Starling Project" during last year's edition of TECHNIA's PLM Innovation Forum. Read the full story: A Phased Roll Out with Big Bang Elements: Opportunities and Challenges in SCANIA's Large 3DEXPERIENCE PLM Implementation.

But there was much more. Among other things, a presentation by Arla, one of the world’s top five dairy producers, described the experience of its PLM initiative and shared some good advice for companies that are planning to take a similar track.

“Another interesting appearance is based on our close relationship with Dassault Systèmes and I’m very happy to announce that Bernard Charlès CEO Dassault Systèmes, will be opening our first digital PLM innovation Forum on April 28th, 2020. We’d also have more than 65 industry leaders on-demand and live-streaming throughout. In addition, we’ll have various ‘Experience Centers’ and ‘Digital Booths’ for peer-to-peer networking, exchange ideas using live-chat and ‘Request for Product Demonstration’,” said Jonas Gejer.

What TECHNIA has now decided is to launch its first digital, 100% online version of the PLMIF event: PLMIF Virtual Experience 2020, taking place April 28-29, 2020.

“Through the launch of this event, we at TECHNIA encourage our customers and friends to adopt sustainable methods in business and manufacturing. We want to show that companies can gain insight, inspiration and knowledge without it costing as much as a traditional event—in the form of travel and related interruptions in business operations. But being a sustainable company is just as much about adapting daily organizational methods and long-term strategic goals to reduce the environmental impact of manufacturing significantly,” Jonas Gejer comments.

Meet the Man in Charge of PLM’s Largest Implementation in 2020

Traditional PLMIF conferences, held locally around the world, gather visionaries and professionals from many industry verticals. Here, they share their experiences and discuss the latest developments in PLM and Product Innovation Platforms such as Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE.

This year, along with taking this prestigious event online, TECHNIA is opening it up to a global audience with the announcement of the PLMIF Virtual Experience 2020.

The event, which will run from April 28 and last throughout May, deviates from the traditional standard in that it is no longer a physical event, and can therefore be run in its digital version and played to the interested audience at a time that syncs with time-pressed business schedules.

Among the interesting guests are Dassault Systèmes’ charismatic and visionary manager, Bernard Charlès, as well as Dassault’s executive VP, OIivier Ribet.  

On the customer and user side, we will meet Fabian Hoefer from medical technology company B. Braun, who today carries out one of 2020’s largest PLM implementation of the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, a deal in which TECHNIA is largely involved.

Whether or not this will be successful remains to be seen, but it is clear that TECHNIA is investing in a beneficial event format that is not simply adapting to remote working strategies.

The digital view that first meets the visitors of the virtual edition of TECHNIA's big event, PLMIF Virtual Experience 2020.
The digital view that first meets the visitors of the virtual edition of TECHNIA's big event, PLMIF Virtual Experience 2020.

Positive Elements in the Climate Debate

Over the past few weeks, the halting of regular business in most industrialized nations has resulted in side effects such as a cleaner air with lower than usual, or even near-zero, carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions. With growing pressure on organizations to deal with climate problems and the known impact that manufacturing has on the environment, Jonas Gejer and his colleagues at TECHNIA believe that a virtual event enables companies all over the world to share valuable insights, while at the same time reducing travel, improving business processes and contributing to a reduced carbon footprint.

“Product suppliers, industry-leading users and visionaries are encouraged to collaborate with this new, exciting format to reach and influence the broadest audience area and accelerate the change process,” asserts Gejer. Several guest speakers from last year's event agree.

“The pace with which we can improve our technology and our practice will undoubtedly be part of the fight against climate change,” states Rebecka Carlsson, a climate activist, entrepreneur and guest speaker during PLMIF 2019.

“The former PLM Innovation Forum has really been a great help for us to understand some things about our own implementation journey. So, when I was asked to speak at PLMIF 2019, I was happy to share some of my experiences,” comments Chris van Oijen, manager of Workflow Systems at Vanderlande. He was also a guest speaker at PLMIF 2019.

The digital view that first meets the visitors of the virtual edition of TECHNIA's big event, PLMIF Virtual Experience 2020.
The digital view that first meets the visitors of the virtual edition of TECHNIA's big event, PLMIF Virtual Experience 2020.

Has the Value of the Physical Meetings Deteriorated?

Of course, physical meetings are far from disappearing, and will probably be resumed as soon as the coronavirus crisis releases its current crippling grip on travel, smaller meetings and larger conferences. Meeting face-to-face is still far too deeply rooted in our mentality. However, the ongoing crisis has clearly shown us alternatives and will, with great certainty, also result in a sharpened quality to digital meeting platforms.

Still, the virtual flow is frequently afflicted with deficiencies such as interference in the sound transmission and poor synchronization between speech and lip movements. Partly this is a bandwidth problem, which the eventual promise of 5G will be able to help address. Equally important in this development will be the creativity of the software, graphics and algorithm developers.


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