Congresses, conferences and user meetings…

Following from a few hectic months of congresses, conferences and user meetings I find myself in a quandary. What to talk about. It’s not that there’s nothing to say, quite the contrary…

Let’s start with IBM.
Having been one of the few UK (one of two) analysts invited to the IBM Partner conference earlier this year, it’s clear that success in channel growth driven to some extent by the apprehension of partners with changes in companies such as HP and Oracle (nee Sun). It’s over-optimistic to assume that short term growth can come as a result of improved recruitment but it’s certainly improved their perceived value in the eyes of many in the IT partner ecosystem.
Notwithstanding improving execution in the channel, they’re investing heavily in channel based Cloud deliverables; software, services and provisioning. While Cloud may be an anathema to some, it’s a saviour to others – so too the channel. To this end, IBM is doing (what I believe is) an excellent job of encouraging investigation of new Cloud revenue streams within their partner networks.
Out of the frying pan into the (simulated) fire, Modelica 2011.
Technology is a driver to innovation and this was no less apparent than at the Modelica Conference held this year in Dresden. I consider myself to be incredibly fortunate to be a party to numerous technology insights from companies in the IT industry none more so than at this event. I was impressed by the enthusiasm of the attendees and the broad variance in users taking advantage of model based methods and tools to deliver better/sooner/different.
The concepts of model based design, simulation and engineering may be new to many, but the notions are well established. Companies including as LMS, Dassault Systèmes and more recently Wolfram Research have all made acquisitions in this area of technology on the promise of greater things to come; Dassault Systèmes for one, cited growth last year in their business of 46%.
An audience of over 320 (up from 220 last year) attending companies included those involved in architectural design and building maintenance, nuclear and conventional power generation, refrigerant systems, and automotive and aerospace manufacture. The significant majority of presentations were highly technical in content, however the Dassault Systèmes discussion focused less on the technology and more on emerging market opportunities; citing increasing interest in application of the methodology in cyber-physical systems and bio-engineering.
The Congress On the Future of Engineering Software (COFES).
For those who’re not aware of COFES, it’s a congress hosted by my friends at Cyon Research. I view this event as one of the most interesting gatherings of the great and good in the engineering software world; basically a management networking forum and think tank on industrial steroids. While the industry was well represented, I got the sense that some of the larger vendors were reducing their executive commitment to the event. Discussions amongst the 300 or so attendees, primarily from manufacturing and building domains, always provides interesting insights, none more so from those of the keynote speaker, John Gage, ex Sun Microsystems luminary.
Of note from this year’s event was the number of new attendee companies from emerging geographic regions. I was lucky enough to act as host new participants from Russia (ASCON), China (ZWCAD), Israel (RDV Systems) and the USA (Caustic Graphics). The addition of new blood from such a broad spectrum of companies makes for lively discussion and some interesting, if not, left field views.
My own workshop at the congress revolved around the use of model based technologies to improve competitive advantage. I was delighted to have a standing room only session with lively discussion from both software suppliers and end users. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to chair a discussion on channels as per usual this year although there were many discussions held in ‘corridors’ on the topic.
Who’s the big boy now? Siemens PLM Connection.
Earlier this month (May) I attended the Siemens PLM America’s user conference, Siemens PLM Connection. While many of their competition (Dassault, PTC, etc.) seem to be moving to a vendor hosted annual customer events, Siemens are keen that this event and its counterpart in Europe continue to be driven by users.
The main hall presentations were more somewhat more restrained than some of the others in the industry but Siemens and their customers are enthusiastic about the future. In conversation with Siemens executives it’s apparent that they have increasing momentum in in both industry verticals and geographies (both established and emerging). In discussion with Siemens PLM’s EVP of Sales and Service, Paul Vogel, it appears that their expansion, particularly in CPG, Automotive and Shipbuilding is increasing. Having said this I perceive that growth rates in their direct sales operation is accelerating faster than that of their channel. Siemens is, to say the least, secretive on facts and figures so it’s difficult to validate my assumptions. With regards expansion and in contrast to many of their competitors, Siemens PLM have been somewhat quite on the acquisition front in recent times; I sense, however, that this may be about to change. Time will tell.
Siemens’s presentations from Tony Affuso and Chuck Grindstaff set an agenda of increasingly integrated Siemens, competitive expansion and directions towards a “Transcendent User Experience”. This was reinforced in discussions with the NX and Teamcenter teams and in a subsequent press and analyst Q&A session.
Albeit time was short, I did manage to attend a few interesting breakout sessions. The first was from Mark Sampson of Siemens PLM on the topic of Systems Engineering. This was the most competent presentation on this complex field that I’ve seen, and great slides to boot. Quote “Systems engineering is not in the business of saving cost, it’s in the business of saving future expense”. The second, from Andy Parnell of Rolls Royce, highlighted their recent PLM implementation and the future role of PLM technologies in their complex business environment.
And not to be outdone, Dassault Systèmes.
Dassault this month have announced their V62012 roll-out which is focused on areas of ‘collaboration’, ‘asset reuse’ and ‘lifelike experience’.
Their emphasis on delivering a more integrated working environment in the new release is one that will resonate well with many in the corporate space. Recent acquisitions, including Intercim and Enginuity, allow them to broaden their application coverage to adjacent areas within existing accounts and opens up opportunities in new industry sectors.
Their acquisition of Exalead and developments in their 3DVIA product, 3DVIA Shopper in particular, (which is focused on the retail space), reflects interesting moves beyond traditional verticals to pastures new. As further evidence of this trend I met Brent Hoberman from Mydeco at the UK Dassault customer forum; some might remember him from his success at lastminute.com. His company is using 3DVIA to deliver a unique online design and buying experience for furnishing and fittings.
A final note:
Those who follow me on this post and twitter (@allanbehrens) will, no doubt, be shaking their heads; one moment peace and tranquillity, the next furious banter and observations. I can’t promise to remedy my wayward behaviour but I will try and be a tad shorter and hopefully more frequent in the future…

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