From Russia with CAD
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26 Oct 2010

Road to CATIA V6 and SolidWorks sales through Facebook

Interview with Thierry Collet, Vice President, Global Marketing & Education Dassault Systemes, and Laurent Valroff, Director Dassault Systemes Russia & CIS at PLM Forum Russia 2010

At October the 14, Alexey Ershov, chief technology officer LEDAS attended Dassault Systemesí PLM Forum, traditionally held in Moscow hotel Radisson Slavyanskaya. The purpose of Alexey were business negotiations and meetings, though along the way he served as a correspondent of, preparing a report from the Forum and taking the interview with Thierry Collet. In an interview attended by head of the Dassault Systemes Russia Laurent Valroff.

Thierry, as we know, some customers still use CATIA V5 and even CATIA V4. What are your thoughts about CATIA V6 market history as Vice President, Global Marketing & Education?
We have a long-term commitment on all versions that we sell. V4 has been on the market for a long time . Itís still supported in a certain manner. CATIA V5 is today totally supported and will be supported, I think, about until 2020. For the moment still the bulk of the sales are done on CATIA V5. It doesnít mean that CATIA V6 doesnít represent anything Ė it does represent something, itís more and more significant year after year. Youíll see a strong adaptation of V6 by the market in all industries; itís being adapted by big names and by mid-size companies as well. Over time, it is our belief, that V6 will supplement V5, maybe in 2-3 years from now, or so, everything will be on V6, I mean any new sell will be on V6, and V5 will not be sold to new customers, itís to be upsell to existing customers only. The adaptation of a new technology takes time in the software industry, especially the adaptation of new complex and innovative technologies such as the ones we sell takes even more time. We are not trying to push everybody to take V6 now. We move step by step, we want to create good reference cases in many different industries and then spread to the supply chain and to other companies. For the time being, the deployment of V6 is absolutely on track with our plans.
In Russia SolidWorks is considered as a mature solution with a rich set of features, probably, the best in its class. Perhaps, there is a big potential for SolidWorks market growth (by the way, it is for sure used illegally by many engineers). Why Dassault Systemes does not endeavor to promote SolidWorks as much as CATIA, in particular, has no SolidWorks representative office?
Within Dassault Systemes we have three channels. We have Professional Channel which is precisely for SolidWorks, then we have Value Selling channel, which is selling through resellers of Dassault Systemes products, and at last we have Business Transformation. In the way we are organized, Professional Channel operates from a commercial stand-point in isolation of the other two channels. SolidWorks owns their own sales force, have they own marketing organizations, which take care of their own market, but they share common processes, common tools, reporting, and have a common strategy with us. Thatís the reason why the organization that is led by Laurent Valroff is very much focused on non-SolidWorks products.

But at the same time we do have a partner that is dedicated to selling SolidWorks in Russia. There are seventy people, who do nothing but selling and promoting and supporting SolidWorks. We definitely intend to keep investing with our partner in the development of the organization there.

Do you mean SolidWorks Russia?
Yes. Itís a sister organization. Itís not a classical partner. SolidWorks Russia is not Dassault Systemesí company. We use the word ďpartnerĒ deliberately.
CATIA Geometric Modeler (CGM) is a new product on the market although it has been used internally in CATIA for a long time. What is the reason to make it a public product now?
Itís not exactly a public product. The status is much more specific. Actually our sister company, Spatial has decided with our approval to take the geometric modeler to their independent software vendors (ISVs). Itís not to sell to anyone, itís reserved to their ISVís.
Is it a kind of face control?
Yes, if you want. There are two reasons for which CGM is taken to ISVs. The first reason is that there is a global market because of the foot-print of CATIA. There was a demand and we accepted to take this demand into consideration. Second to that, there is also a market for components. In that market independent software vendors which are niche players are in a much better position than we are to play a role. They happen to deal with major industrial companies that have chosen CATIA. So it makes sense to make that decision. So itís not a product, which is available for everyone on the market.
Certainly CAA licenses are less popular than CATIA itself. Do you have a specific strategy to sell CAA licenses in rather small Russian market?
We already have sold CAA RADE licensees to some customers in Russia, who are using it to develop their own applications. Regarding to selling CAA license to our partners who are developing solutions that weíre marketing Ė yes, I know one or two cases, when we have sold CAA RADE to developers of external solutions. We do have a special agreement in such cases. We did sell such license, for example, to company, which is developing special solutions for Boeing in Russia.
A significant part of Russian industry is giant factories inherited from the USSR. Do you use any specific ways to deal with their bureaucratic apparatus and style of decision-making?
The approach is the same as we use for other companies. We have well introduced partners, we work with different divisions, we do always understand whatís happening, we work with holding companies.
So, for you they are just typical corporations now?
Yes. You see, the joint company can be state-owned or privately-owned Ė those totally different in Russia. State-owned means mostly attached or integrated into state corporationĖ aerospace, shipbuilding and engine building JSC. In this case we have to work in two levels Ė on state corporation level and on company level. With private company itís enough to work on one level. Typically these companies need to be connected with us directly, which is not the case for mid-size market, where typical way to work through partners is enough. Also these companies are to work with non-Russian partners to share their projects. Typical example is Transmash holding Ė they have join venture with Amstol to make a trains. Another example is International Satellite Systems, which is working in cooperation with Alcatel. Our new customer Ė AutoVAZ is working with Renault.
Thierry, you are known as an enthusiast of social networks and media. Have you participated in any related events, like COFES and particularly COFES-Russia, which took place just a couple of weeks ago? Do you use social networks in your everyday work and life?
Iím sorry, I didnít take a part in the COFES events. Yes, I do use social media everyday, mostly for professional purposes. Iím using such medias as Linkedin, Twitter. Letís take an example Ė Dassault Systemes has a very active contribution in Facebook to help Facebook to come with much more comprehensive solutions that meet the expectations of big companies like us. We spent significant amount of money, time, and attention on on-line marketing. As a professional usage, for example, I tweet quite a lot when promoting some events or spreading specific information. Itís a unique way to touch people with multiple interactions.

Another example is The Collaborative Tribe campaign, which we launched four or five months ago. We ran that campaign globally around the world. The idea of that campaign was the following: we wanted to increase the awareness of Dassault Systemes in all the countries where when you say ęDassault SystemesĽ the answer is ęWho are you?Ľ Our idea was to come up with 3D episodes of funny stories made with gimmicks of a tribe who lives in the pre-history. These individuals in that pre-historic tribe were facing multiple problems that were presented in six different episodes. And all those episodes concluded with a funny happy-end. We wanted to push that campaign through e-mails but most importantly through social medias. So less than two months we touched base with over hundreds of thousands people we didnít know, we increased the size of our marketing database considerably with qualified contacts of people who showed an interest to what we have done. And we also have changed the perception of who we are. If you speak about PLM it speaks to PLM experts, if you speak in 3D without any language by illustrating what innovation is about itís not only about good ideas, itís about collaboration and itís about making sure that your idea fits to the right usage and to the right market. That what weíve tried to convey as a message to everyone. And the perception was excellent. And the relay was on Facebook, on the Twitter, on Linkedin and many others. We gathered hundreds of fans who proposed their scenarios, ideas of new episodes. This was a very strong adoption of such a campaign by the market, much bigger than I expected.

So the answer is Ė yes Iím a strong believer and Iím a user of social media and it will not stop, it will increase, thatís for sure.

What is an impact of social networks on marketing and sales Ė in Russia and worldwide? Are social networks able to penetrate the world of big corporations or, maybe, they are useful for selling CATIA to smaller customers?
Actually it depends to what you call ęsellĽ. If you mean taking an order through social media, for sure the answer is Ė no. Itís ęnoĽ not only for Dassult Systemes itís even ęnoĽ for B2C players, which happened to start using social media earlier than B2B players like us. If you mean having a contribution to sell Ė yes, because you create awareness, you change the perception, you place the right information to the right people or you touch base with people who you were not able to talk to before. The answer is a firm ęyesĽ, it does play a role already. It has more and more an importance for the way we do our sells and marketing. So we use social media to have fans, to offer information of value to extremely narrowly targeted audiences, for instance to promote e-seminars and whitepapers, to create chats between experts. Tomorrow we will create communities; people will be able to gather virtually to work together. This is very much at the center of my marketing strategy.
Was your experience at Oracle useful at Dassault Systemes? Is it hard to ďswitchĒ from ERP to CAD or these areas have a lot in common? Do you think that business processes in all world-level corporations are just the same?
Yes, my experience at Oracle was extremely helpful. Iíve been given a chance at Oracle to do almost everything: Iíve done sales, sales management, marketing, strategy, support, operations; Iíve done senior management at any level. Thanks to that Iíve acquired a lot of experience in multiple domains. Whatever the company you join then, unless youíre totally stupid, what you do is that you capitalize all your experience. Thatís the reason why my experience at Oracle was extremely helpful and Iíve not switched from Oracle to Dassault Systemes directly, Iíve done other things in between, which also enriched my experience. Is it difficult to work in a company like Dassault Systemes after a company like Oracle? Iíd say that from a cultural stand-point these are totally different companies, which you canít compare. Oracle is very strong at globalizing and making things executed in the same way everywhere and decisions can happen and be effective overnight litterally. In Dassault Systemes we pay much more attention to leaving much more liberty to the people and it is has to do to with the fact that for thirty years in the row weíve been solely an engineering research and development company. Weíve started to be a sales & marketing-driven company only for the past three years or so. And we are not yet at the level where everything is balanced, where all the functions play the same roles. Definitely the role and sense of marketing are becoming more and more crucial in a way youíre making the decisions and we run the company. I know that weíll never be a company like Oracle, and we donít need to. We want to be a company which allows the people to try new things, to have good ideas, so that everyone can litterally contribute to the evolution of the company and its portfolio. Note that by nature what we do is much more complex than companies like Oracle or SAP do. I can tell you that the level of complexity of ERP is significantly lower that complexity of PLM and 3D because what we do is pushing the limits of mathematics and physics and multi-physics in any single domain, which is not the case in ERP where you basically just stick to rules and regulations.
Is Dassault Systemesí service commercially successful?
As youíve seen in my lifelike experience presentation 3DVIA is the layer for rendering the lifelike experience. As such 3DVIA is absolutely essential in our V6 version. It is the way, the technology to make people understand and put their hands on what we talk about. Thatís the visual representation of the lifelike environments. Are we successful with 3DVIA and The answer is Ė definitely yes. Let me give you some numbers. One year ago, in October 2009 we used to have 135 000 users registered on One year later in October 2010 we have 200 000 users, which means a 47% increase year on year. Thatís a significant result. Letís take 3DVIA Studio, which is one of the offers on Weíve launched it recently, just one month ago. We have 2 500 downloads in the first month, which is very good. The 3DVIA Photoshop plug-in has 6 000 downloads per month, which speaks by itself. We now have 73 000 of models available on so it starts to be significant and considerable. If we zoom on 3DVIA Shape Ė it reached 120 000 downloads also a very significant number. And there are 68 000 registered users of 3DVIA Shape. There are 10 000 3DVIA Scenes, which have been created in a matter of few weeks only. And if I take iPad version of 3DVIA, which was launched one month ago, weíve got 950 purchases in the first month. So, yes, we really think that we are very successful with
Thank you very much for your answers!

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