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System Simulation Moves from Goods and Services to Experiences

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

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.

Al Bunshaft – Managing Director, North America, Dassault Systemes

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.

B. Joseph Pine II, acclaimed author, speaker, and management advisor

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]

Bernard Charles, President and CEO, Dassault Systemes

Dassault Systemes Opens New Horizons With 3DExperience


  • 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?

Monica Menghini, EVP, Industry, MarCom, Dassault Systemes

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

Michel Tellier, VP Aerospace and Defense, Dassault Systemes

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.

Glenn Isbell Jr., Director, System Engineering and Operations, Bell Helicopter Textron Inc.

 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.

Laura Wilber, Solution Analyst, Exalead, Dassault Systemes

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.

Ralph Jacobson – Global Consumer Products Industry Marketing Leader, IBM

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:
  1. 3D online shopping  (on Dassault site)
  2. Dollar Shave Club – (non) future of packaging – send you shaving razors. (JB: recall Inside secure and packaging sensor)
  3. Quirky – Using social media (crowdsourcing) for product development

More SI, Less EDA at DesignCon 2012

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

This year’s DesignCon show focused more on board-level signal intregity and testing issue than on chip design and verification.

DesignCon has changed over the years. It started as a board-level interface show. In recent years, a large chip-level Electronic Design Automation (EDA) and verification component was added (see references for past coverage of the show). This year, the EDA tools component was greatly diminished as the show returned its roots, although with a much stronger emphasis on board-level testing, debug and signal-power integrity issues.

As usual for an editor, I spent more time in meetings that actually walking the show floor. Still, there was plenty to catch my eye when I did wander onto the exhibition hall. Here is a brief summary of my meetings and show floor highlights from Designcon 2012.

Read the full story at “IP Insider

Social Media – Today’s Isle of the Lotus Eaters

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Using Social media (SM) apps like Twitter and Facebook really does dumb down the conversation!

Here’s but one example. Today, I tried to post a simplistic discussion on Twitter, but it required three separate Tweets.  Twitter has a 140 character word limit.

Odysseus and the Lotus Eaters

Next, I decided to post the same three Tweets on Facebook, but then I ran into a 420 character limit. My short message was 685 characters long – a tome in today’s SM world.

The only mechanism left was my blog which effectively has no character limit. But this instructive exercise highlighted the point of how much SM tools limit our ability to communicate while defocusing our attention and ultimately stealing our most precious resource – time! No wonder my engineering brethren do so little of their work on social media platforms.

Yet social media tools like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Google, Linked-In, Plaxo, and all the rest are terribly invasive. Once you start using them, you’re hooked. So instead of accomplishing meaningful achievements, we Twitter and Facebook our time away. Social media sites are like the Isle of the Lotus Eaters in ancient Greek mythology. Anyone who eats of the lotus becomes forgetful and happily indolent while time slips away.

Where is the Odysseus of old to free us from the grip of these time robbers? When some of Odysseus’s crew had eaten of the lotus, they forgot about their friends, homes, and duties. In the end, Odysseus had to physically drag them back to the ships.

Want to know what started this rank of mine? It began this morning, while I was purusing the headlines and came across the following articles which I twittered as shown:

List this among the dumbest “duh” polls: “85 Percent of People Worldwide Want Content to Be Free (NielsenWire)”

Google doesn’t help by giving the work of others away for free: Google Tightens’s Free-Article Loophole

Content isn’t free. It comes at a price. Why would any good writer create meaningful content on a continuing basis for free?

Engineers And Social Media – The Untold Story

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

Are engineers really as inept and socially handicapped as many would believe?

It’s popular to put down engineers as geeky and socially inept. In some cases, this stereotype is true. But would you be surprised to learn that yesterday’s engineers were the pioneers of social media—tools and usage—as we know it today?

It’s true. Social media enablers like Twitter, Facebook, Google search and the like had their first prototypes long before the Internet (orginally the ARPAnet) became the Web. The only major difference was the interface. Before Mosaic, the first browser, was available and back when the Internet was first being formed only those who understood the basics of that most cherished of languages—Unix—were admitted to the network.

So how did engineers, the pioneers of social media, communicate on the early Internet? Let’s say you wanted to Twitter a friend, i.e. send him/her a one sentence message. You simply used the “Talk” utility on your DEC VT100 terminal and typed in your message: @TALK (Chris) Where are you going for lunch? Instantly, the message would appear on your friend’s screen. Each message was limited to 80 characters, whereas today’s Twitter is limited to 140 characters.

For longer messages, similar to today’s Instant Messengers, you could use Telnet to open a text application (remember the VI editor?) pull up a file you had written. A little later on, you could use Usenet to post threaded discussions on the Internet. Or you could dial up a low baud rate modem on the land-line phone to communicate via a bulletin board.

Early file searches were performed using the Unix command GREP – global / regular expression / print. And this was a big deal, because the alternative to “grepping” was actually reading through print documentation. [If you have copious spare time, you might want to read a short column I wrote for the IEEE back in ’98 called: “You Can’t GREP Dead Trees.”

These are just a few examples of how engineers were the creators and first active participant in what is now known as social media. Sadly, some of these pioneering engineers seem to have forgotten their legacy. For example, Robert Lucky’s column in the Jan’09 edition of IEEE Spectrum is entitled: “To Twitter or Not to Twitter.” The piece is well-written, insightful and funny, as is his style. And I’ve ready Lucky’s column for almost as long as I’ve been an engineer. But he falls into the trap that so many of us do as we get older. Instead of immersing himself in something new, he talks around and about the problem. Instead of using Twitter, which is a very short messaging system, to really learn about it, he dismisses this latest of social media tools as irrelevant. But academic examination is no substitute for raw experience.

Personally, I find it more useful to experiment with as many new engagement tools as possible. How else can I understand where the world of media—print, online, etc.—is really heading? But the practical engineer in me also understands the time commitment required by these applications. Thus, to aid colleagues and readers, here are my “game cheats” on 10 of today’s most popular social media applications (in no particular order).

1. Blogs: Web logs are the new “voice of the people.” Some are very good, many are not. Once you find those blogs that you enjoy reading, make sure they utilize RSS feeds.

2. RSS: A convenient way to deliver regularly changing Web content like blogs, articles from your favorite authors, news, etc. The headlines from all of these content sources are then views in an RSS reader from Yahoo, Google, etc. Here’s but one example of the feed: Chip Design RSS

3. Twitter: Like DEC VT100 “Talk.” Limited to 140 characters. Use it to drive traffic to your blog and to have real-time exchanges with new friends. Check out Dark_Faust on Twitter.

4. Facebook: Think of this as a repository for lots of little Java applications, most of which seem pleasant but absurd like sending Karma to someone. Still, Facebook is a nice way to learn about online groups and share pictures.

5. Linkedin and Plaxo: These are useful for staying in touch with work buddies once you have all been laid off. About the only time anyone sends me a message on these application is when they are about to be let go. I call this the “LinkedIn Effect.” Sad

6. Ning: It’s a Zen sort of thing for those who want to create their own social network. Just what we need – even more social networks.

7. Instant Messenger: This is a great way to send either short or long real-time messages to colleagues while at work. Just keep you list of IM contacts small or it will be overwhelming.

8. BlackBoard: If you’re taking any of my online engineering courses at PSU, then you know that today’s online course managements systems are a whole collection of social media applications.

9. YouTube: Anyone with a computer at work knows about YouTube.

10. Podcasts: Audio-only versions of YouTube. Fun to listen to while sitting on the plane.

Today’s Internet is full of social media experiments that actually started many years ago. Since most of these experiments are still free, I suggest participating in as many as time and interest permit.

Free counter and web stats

Don’t go it alone – My Advice to new EDA/IC publications

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008

Several new e-newsletter style publications have rushed in to fill the void created by the departure of CMP (and others) from the field of meaningful EDA/IC coverage. The latest such venture into the fray (or is it “the fraying world”) of EDA/IC coverage is Kevin Morris’s “IC Journal.”

Kevin – a fellow Portlander and editorial colleague – is well known for his witty and insightful blogging-style coverage of the FPGA world in “FPGA Journal.” It would be my guess that the new IC e-newsletter will rely heavily on his FPGA background and experience. This certainly makes sense as over 60% of ASIC designs require some sort of FPGA prototyping for verification.

Kevin’s e-letter joins several other recent editorial/analyst vehicles, including Richard Goering’s SCDsource and Gary Smith EDA. Though competitors of varying degrees, I’m personally glad to see that the EDA/IC world hasn’t lost the significant intellectual property represented by these experts.

But I would offer my colleagues this advice; be careful about going it alone. Collaboration is becoming crucial to success, as readership and the message means continue to change. That is one of the reasons why Chip Design will be partnering with both start-up media firms as well as long established print-online publications to expand our readership and coverage areas. More news soon.

Good luck to all of us in this brave new era of publishing…we’ll need it. — JB