In a repeat of the late 90’s Internet mania, when the ‘i’ prefix could be slapped on to anything and magically it became an Internet property, the ‘2.0’ prefix has similarly lost all meaning. I know I am not the first one to say this, but it became true for me this morning when I read this. Since there’s nothing really shipping until May, all I can do is look through the announcement and the web page to figure out what is really going on here, so this is all very preliminary, but a few thoughts:
First off, what are they really announcing? Peel back the ‘2.0’ sticker and by-pass the ‘making the world a better place to be’ sentiments and try to focus on what’s really new. There’s mention of 3D Everywhere and while that is a great strategy it’s one that has been talked about by Dassault for years already, from the days of CGR, to the ACIS acquisition through the partnership with lattice, to the release of 3D XML, to the acquisition of VirTools and then Seemage. So again, great idea, but not really new and not really delivered on despite almost 8 years of talking about it. There’s also a mention of a new SOA architecture. Now this might really be new, for Dassault at least (delivery of SOA based products has been the norm for the rest of the enterprise software market for going on 5 years now) and if it signals an opening up of the Dassault platform to other enterprise apps, that’s great and it is really good news for the manufacturing market overall. If it’s just an attempt to try to take credit for an architecture project to integrate their three PDM platforms, then an internal announcement on the company email system might have been more appropriate. Another interesting aspect, is what they aren’t talking about: wither LCA and 3D XML? Oh what great promise they once held!
Now let’s look at that 2.0 sticker. What exactly about what they are doing has anything to do with any of the capabilities a normal person would associate with 2.0? Will they offer their software as a service to consumers with an ad supported model? Are they going to provide 2- way connections with the web 2.0 powered conversations that are all over the Internet that are teeming with rich information for manufacturers? Or maybe they just grabbed the economic model of a few of the web 2.0 properties I’ve seen: no business model, no revenue plan and no real products. Now that may be a bit over the top, but this is the part of the announcement that really bugs me. If they are successful in making manufacturers think that what they call PLM 2.0 is all that’s really possible then a tremendous opportunity to directly connect users with manufacturers will have been missed. It seems a lot like a meatball sundae to me. Maybe their vision of PLM 2.0 is to Web 2.0 what Mintel is to the Internet.
So what are they really saying. Here’s what I am reading between the lines and seeing: They have realized they can’t be a closed platform and that they need to integrate their 3 different PDM systems. SOA is the magic bullet that will help them kill two birds with one stone. They’ve also realized that there is more to providing PLM than just 3D. All of these things are net positives and show that they are moving in the right direction, but they have a significant gap to make up and it will take them some time. In the end Dassaul’s PLM 2.0 looks a lot like everyone else’s PLM 1.0, so maybe it’s a units compatibility issue. Admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery.