Dassault Systèmes ECF2010

The past two weeks have been somewhat fraught for those of us in Northern Europe. Whilst  the icy weather and heavy snow showers may have smug four-wheel drive car owners testing the competencies of their high-tech drive trains and hill-descent aids; nature, however, has an unerring way of reminding us of the that the laws of momentum can shatter confidence in the merest of moments.

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IBM and Dassault Systemes – times are a changing

As most will know IBM has recently agreed to an offer to sell their PLM sales and client support operations to Dassault Systemes. Whilst many will be surprised by this news, there are many amongst us that believe that this is an inevitable culmination of many years of shifting relationship between IBM and Dassault.

Through highs and lows the IBM/Dassault relationship has been unique in its execution. Undoubtedly good for Dassault in delivering vast momentum in corporate accounts and clearly beneficial to IBM in increasing their manufacturing market coverage.

So why change? Well my take is that Dassault wants to be closer (read more in control) of their destiny and customers, and IBM’s keen to extend their footprint in manufacturing and process industries – to leverage their own software and service revenues (not necessarily with Dassault products). Of course there are many other reasons, benefits and negatives to the changed relationship (including, of course, financial); however I think it’s fair to say that due to the constraining nature of the historic IBM/Dassault relationship neither of the above core objectives was particularly achievable. For one there’s too much legacy, and second, these objectives are to a large extent contradictory in nature.

Will the move work? Well as they say, the proof is in the pudding, we’ll have to look at IBM and Dassault’s prospects and customers (and results) to see how they take to the changed landscape; and of course let’s not forget the competition that will be eager to ensure unsettled customers and prospects find a safe haven in their ecosystems. If we’ve learnt anything over the past years it’s that the customer is king. If they see value and benefit from the new constellation then it will work – the threat though is on the counter side.

An interesting move – and one that will, I’m sure, attract much more discussion.

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