There was a survey on the Siemens BBS this week inquiring into various aspects of software use and pondering this brought a few comments and thoughts to mind. So some reflections on the status quo and the future.
It is rare to see two things happen in conjunction that could totaly alter the face of CAD as we know it. One has been in my mind the advent of Synchronous Tech with SE and NX. A remarkable way of doing things that appealed to this user the very first time he saw it. Indeed it is the tool of choice for 95%+ of all my geometry creation and I would have it no other way. The implementation here with live rules is the industry best. I think programs like Space Claim for instance may do certain things in Direct Editing better but for all around useability and power nothing else touches SE in mid range cad and NX in high range. So we have the innovative paradigm disruptor in place in ST.
The other is the self imposed destruction of Solid Works by Dassault. I think many of the SW users are ignoring the nature of the tremenously destructive and disruptive things heading their way. I base this on the amount of outcry by users over what is going on. I also see the talk about what happened in SWW 2012 which was basically non-existant. Principle bloggers and commentors had very little to say this year and I think the reasons are two fold. One, there were few new things to talk about and Dassault still does not have much to say about this grand future they haven’t been able to make work yet. Two, the things that they are finding out are very discouraging and so the silence brought on by the betrayal of long time SW users and advocates by Dassault who is throwing their future in the dumpster. The serious denial by many users is soon to be adjusted by reality and it won’t be pretty for those who stick around.
( Preface to the following paragraph added after publishing. It appears with further information that there is a lack of coordination between VAR’s and Siemens and SE so each may have different lists. This in and of itself stymies complete coverage of users for the survey and indicates another rough edge to be fixed. )
SO, we have this little survey of SE users. As of yet it is only on the BBS forum. This brings me to a sore point of topic. Why is Solid Edge/Siemens taking this once in a lifetime opportunity to aquire market share and new partners for integrated products so lacadaisically? I mean it seems that way to me. This survey stuff was talked about a year ago and nothing much has happened. There has been no concerted effort to reach out to EVERY SE user and just find out what our needs and desires are. Here we sit with the best CAD program but feet mired in clay in every other area. It benefits me and every other SE user if SE grows. It means more work and more clients who use common tools and that has to be beneficial. Look at SW and tell me I am wrong. Furthermore it benefits SE/Siemens in a big way with better cash flow from new customers. This myopia by SE/Siemens to their own detriment is the most puzzling thing to me and I just don’t understand.
I get it that it is not possible to develop a strategy without planning. I also get the idea that endless debates about what should happen and committees and blah blah blah will kill bright futures as surely as no planning will. Time waits for no one and it won’t wait for SE either if they choose not to capitalize on this current short lived golden egg. So here we go into ST5 and Nashville this June.
Everything here depends on SE and Siemens to take the ball and run with it. They have the capital and the users lists. THEY HAVE to be the ones who provide plentiful publicity to promote both the product and the convention in June. I don’t know where this preppy name of “University” came from but they had better start getting in gear to get users there. The ground work to create user excitement is not done with a last minute barrage but is done by sustained efforts to create and keep user interest. AND to create interest in potential customers. At this time as far as I can tell there is no single person with ability who has been assigned the postition, one I have just created by the way, of user community and publicity liason. It requires an individual I think has been at some point in time an actual user in his daytime job and UNDERSTANDS the important things we have to deal with from useability to integration. This has not happened and we see a disjointed kind of academic non user oriented and haphazard communication with poorly directed publicity as a result.
From where I sit here is an example. We have this car building thing that SE is promoting. That is all well and good but kind of remote to CAD users who are allready doing this for a living. SE’s biggest single potential for new customers is SW. They are allready cad users and don’t need a free or whatever seat of SE. What they need is concrete examples like the one from Billy Oliver of Helena Labs. He switched from SW to SE and he was part of a half hour video explaning WHY the move benefited them and HOW it benefited them. Yeah, something a real SW user faced with the trash Dassault is getting ready to dish out needs to see and I bet you he does not give a flip about that car stuff. He has problems on his day job that need fixed. He is your single largest group of new clients if you care to go harvest them. Real case studies as to why it will benefit you day by day is a lot more compelling to users than some basically irrelevant car thing. The car thing is good for the academic outreach, reality is good when you want customers from your competitor. They are TWO seperate efforts and should be handled that way.
This survey has yet to do more than scratch the surface. They are omiting questions on there that could address very important things. No let me rephrase that. Some critically important things. For instance on a scale of 1 to 10 how important would integrated CAM be to you? Remember guys that the whole reason for the existance of SE is to create something to be, drum roll here please, something to be MANUFACTURED. Very little has been done here to even find out how important this is to existing customers although this last survey finally did ask what you were using for CAM. This manufacturing disconnect has been a puzzle to me for some time. Listen, the job is only partly done when the cad design is finished and now begins the actual manufacturing which by the way involves a lot more time and money than design did.
Allow me to demonstrate this. I am a small business. My cad expenses were around $7,500.00 for SE. My yearly expenses $1,500.00. My new mill I am ordering will be at least $85,000.00. My CAM software will be probably at least $13,000.00 initialy and at least $1,600.00 yearly. My 44″ x 78″ building with my old Haas and lots of other equipment probably has run me well over $200,000.00 since the begining. I just spent $6,250.00 on a digital phase converter for the new mill, as much almost just to get good clean power as I did for SE. So in my world, which is a pretty common one with CAD users if you think about it, just what is most important Hmmmm? Please get on the ball here, it is important to users and therefore SHOULD be important SE/Siemens
I know all that stuff about big companies and how it takes time for change to happen. I know there are foot draggers who have a vested interest in the way things were for whatever reason who will fight good changes. I know that with limited budgets this economy brings there can be a fear of making wrong choices. I also know however that when a priceless opportunity arises you had better jump on it or forget it. We have gone from Huntsville last year to Nashville this June and instead of building the user community and creating a manufacturing ecosphere and creating excitement with existing and potential customers we have created, well, I don’t know but not enough thats for sure.
My suggestion would be for Management Synchronous Technology. A way of doing things that would cut right through history based management and get right to the creation of success for us all from corporate to user.