System Simulation Moves from Goods and Services to Experiences
This is the first of two stories about Dassault Systemes’s move into the experience-based economy and the world of semiconductor development.
User-group events are typically a balance of corporate marketing and real-world user experiences. Still, if done properly, they can be both interesting and educational. That was my impression from the recent Dassault Systemes 3DExperience, the company’s high-level user-group event. So much took place at the show that all I can do, for now, is highlight the sessions and panels that I had time to attend.
Welcome and Introductions
- Al Bunshaft was the host for the morning session’s C-Level presentations. “Experience” was the key word and recurring theme for the entire event. The 3D experience brand and concept extends the company’s flagship PLM products into the next stage of business evolution. I’ll elaborate on this point shortly. Each speaker’s goal was to help the audience understand and appreciate the importance of customized experiences.
- Major acquisitions in 2012 further support the company’s goals of harmonizing product, nature, and life: 1) Netvibes: software to discover useful information with company databases and through external public domains
2) Gemcom: software that helps mining companies make decisions about the excavation of precious materials
- Bunshaft introduced a new hire formerly from MatrixOne – Patricia Megowan, Business Transformation Leader for NA Operations. Do you remember MatrixOne, which Dassault Systemes acquired in 2006 to create the next generation of its ENOVIA brand? MatrixOne had a close partnership with Cadence Design Systems to develop PLM tools based on both companies’ products.
The Experience Economy: Work is Theatre and Every Business a Stage
- Pine, a motivational speaker and book author, used the gumball machine as a clever example of how an experience may supersede and even supplant the actual product. In the gumball machine, kids enjoy watching the purchased gum travel down a spiral column to reach the delivery shoot. Pine suggested that the adult version of this was the Autostadt’s car vending machine.
- The evolution of human business activity has moved from agrarian to goods and then to services. The Internet has commoditized goods (i.e., price comparisons are easy). Now, services are being commoditized in the same way. What is the next stage beyond services? Experiences!
- Experiences are customizations aimed at the individual. Companies need to innovate experiences to maintain profitability. One example is REI, which provides a climbing mountain in its stores for customers to try out the company’s equipment before purchasing. Such experiences lead to greater product sales, but the experiences themselves bring in revenue.
- Pine: “If you customerize a good, it becomes a service. Customization is a great differentiator. Customization is the antidote to commoditization.” [Personal note: This idea of customization addressing the shortcomings of commoditization was an eye-opener for me. In the semiconductor-EDA-electronic spaces, we all know that hardware has become a commodity. How can businesses and engineers still find value in hardware design? Today, hardware customization – even including FPGAs - is done via software. But something more is needed. How do we, as engineers, participate in designing the experience? Intel and others have asked – and tried to answer – this same question.]
- “Customers don’t want too many choices. Business and designers must offer what the customer wants. Ford and Chevy were experts at mass production. Now, Tesla is becoming an expert in mass customization.” [Personal note: How does the designer figure out what the customer wants? Via simulations and prototypes.]
- Digital information can augment real-world experiences (e.g., Google Glasses).
- How does one stage a digital 3D experience? Pine explained that physicists describe our experiences as bounded by time, matter, and space. But through digital experiences, we can go to no-time (manipulate sense of time by simulating the past or future). We can experience “no-matter” because matter is built on digital substances and we are moving from atoms (matter) to bits (no-matter). We can experience “no-space” in the digital virtual arena to create things that are not physically possible. [Personal note: When motivational speakers talk about science, it always gets interesting. Perhaps Pine was trying to shake the audience up by relating concepts in physics to key marketing elements. His comments prompted me to send out this Tweet: J. Pine: No-matter is digital substance, not atoms but bits. So SW is no matter? Interesting. @Dassault3DS @3DXForum]
- Charles began by explaining the meaning of the compass – a symbol designed to position the company’s brands and how they work together to deliver 3DExperiences.
North – connecting people
West – the world with 3D as a medium, not just tools
South – virtual plus real, connecting the virtual with the real world
East – information intelligence; discover needed internal and external information
Middle – This is the experience.
- A systems approach is needed to deal with the challenges facing humanity (e.g., urbanization, resource management, global health, food supply, education, and globalization).
- “It’s easier to find a good answer if we ask the right question.” [Personal note: That’s why systems engineers spend so much time and energy defining the problem early in the system life cycle.]
- Dassault Systemes is the seventh-largest software application company in the world. Can you guess which firm (based in Redmond, WA) is the first?
- The future of simulation will come from indexed information.
- Several years ago, scientist Georges Mougin suggested towing icebergs from the South Pole as a source of fresh water for southern Africa. Charles showcased this idea as a good example of how to evaluate possibilities (feasibilities) using social-media platforms and system-based 3D simulation. One of the biggest challenges was to limit the amount of melting in moving the iceberg to Africa. Many professionals freely offered their advice through NetVibe online discussion rooms and 3DVia virtual system simulations. Published material was gathered on metrology, global current flows, instrumented navigation data, and more. The conclusion was that the water melt rate from the iceberg would be very low. It was determined that the sea currents (and perhaps wind via large parachutes) could move the iceberg, but a steering mechanism would be needed. Furthermore, the momentum of the iceberg could even bring energy to the African coast. [Personal note: Using the Internet to discover useful data and connect multidomain experts is not a new concept. Indeed, Dassault’s implementation of this approach is reminiscent – but on a much grander scale – of James Burke’s “Knowledge Web” project from the last decade. See “It's the End of the World as We Know It!” ]
- System modeling is no longer the domain of experts with powerful processing hardware. Charles used the powerful Catia modeling application running on the latest Apple iPad to do a significant modeling task. This version of Catia is free from Dassault – for now.
- Another cool simulation is the virtual modeling of Paris from today to the past. I wonder if this could be used to reconstruct specific moments in history, like the construction of Apollo 11 or the first transistor?
From Product Experience to Business Experience: The New Social Industry Era
- Product innovation is misleading, as it doesn’t include the experience that product can enable. The Internet expanded the power of the consumer and reshaped industry.
- Like it or not, engineers may one day become comfortable with social media. Menghini noted that the next generation is already at ease with social applications, with most kids now using touchscreens instead of a mouse on a PC. Social apps are also gaining favor with non-engineers as a way to get useful technical information.
- “Consumers buy experiences. Experiences are bigger than products.” She cited the example of a coffee machine, where you smell the coffee aroma before you purchase the actual product. Starbucks has grown beyond a goods (commodity) company to both a service and experience vendor. For product lifecycle management to grow, it must be extended to include experiences via 3D simulations (more on that later).
- Menghini presented this interesting mapping of activities from today to tomorrow:
From PLM to engineering business experience
From discipline collaboration to social industry world
From product modeling to business modeling
From document management to experience management
From search to dashboard intelligence
From product attributes to consumer experience
Live 3dExperience A&D Demo – Introducing the A&D Solution Experience: Winning Program
- Knowledge retirement is a main concern in the aerospace and defense (A&D) industries, as 40% of employees are eligible for retirement in the next three years. There is an urgent need to retain this experience by capturing project requirements with modern PLM systems. [Personal note: This was also a problem in the late 1980s, when I was with the Department of Defense (DoD). Back then, it was the retirement of engineers who worked on the early space systems. We tried to document our systems engineering process, but it was a labor-intensive task and databases were less sophisticated. Today, technology has greatly improved.]
- The Vee-Diagram – You can’t escape it if you want to do system-level engineering.
- Case study: Two proposals for a defense drone project. The winning contract used 3D simulations in addition to engineering drawings. These simulations addressed all aspects of the project from build through deployment and delivery. Simulations are key for mission-critical problems, as in flight test.
- I’d forgotten the defense industry’s propensity for odd terms: “source of truth” and “experience of judgment combined with the creativity process.” The latter was meant to describe a risk-management process.
- Aerospace now uses behavioral models to create mature designs. The semiconductor EDA’s electronic-system-level (ESL) design and verification communities can sympathize with the challenges of creating behavioral models.
- Flight systems need to simulate both design and operation (e.g., landing on an aircraft-carrier flight deck). Today, that operational simulation includes the entire carrier – including sailors’ movements on the deck. This level of detail was helpful to understand the blast pattern of drones during takeoff.
Bell Helicopter Textron Inc.
- Bill of materials exists for every group (e.g., engineering, manufacturing, planning, and such). The problem is that most of these exist separately from one another.
- Not everyone welcomes the move from paper-based to online systems. Bell migrated a ton of systems documents covering requirements generation through implementation and build via the Enovia PLM tool. Legacy electrical and mechanical CAD data was migrated to online databases using Catia.
- Organizational change management is important. It is easier to install a system than it is to change human behavior. At Bell, a single PLM platform helped bring siloed organizations together. 3D modeling helped different disciplines visualize issues.
- When you improve (expose) data, you get better visibility and you’ll see behavioral shifts.
Big Data and Innovation: Product-in-Life Intelligence from Machine Data
- Big data is estimated to reach a growth rate of zetta bytes (ZB) in 2015. (1 ZB=1 trillion GBs). The Hadron Collider generates 1 Peta-byte of data every second.
- ERP and CAD data represents structured data. Machine and human data (e.g., web, social media) is unstructured data. Unstructured data should be modeled using statistical and semantic processing instead of traditional structured, relational database techniques. (Semantical processing refers to the manipulation of data based on its meaning.)
- Product-in-Life intelligence: Gathering machine and human (e.g., social media and email) data about a product once it is out in the world. Human data does require natural language processing to filter out meaningful information.
- Case study: exploratory investigations using the Exalead discovery engine on embedded device data in the French postal service. This data – from a sorting machine including OCR and video-coding systems – was going unused. After analysis of the unused data, the postal service gained end-to-end visibility of the letter flow system. This visibility presented new ways to track letters and provide revenue-generating services like mail-to-email (auto PDF), virtual mailbox, SMS push, and other personalized services for consumers.
- IP issues with data collection and usage? No personal data, just aggregations, so it wasn’t a problem. But some collectors of machine data have tried to sell data as service. In response, several open-source systems have arisen.
Leveraging Social Media for New and Collaborative Product Development
- Consumers seeking advice on the Internet:
1) About 70% trust “independent” sites like Yelp
2) About 18% trust what they read on brand sites, including retail and corporations
- New product development: Where will it be in the next few years? Here are a few examples: