I realize I am a little behind on the updates scene but I wanted to take some time with what all happened yesterday at the press day of the SolidWorks 2009 Press Launch Event. The day was filled with more information than you could even begin to imagine. I covered most of it live with a morning and a shortened afternoon live blogging session but I wanted to go a little more in depth than what I provided yesterday.
I want to take some time to go over what I heard yesterday and give you a good feel of what was said. The morning event was kicked off by Jeff Ray giving a more than standard session about what is going on at SolidWorks. It felt a lot like what was said last year at SolidWorks WORLD. For an outline of what he said you can look at the replay from my live morning blogging session. He did seem a bit more relaxed than he did last year at SolidWorks WORLD and seemed to be having a little more fun this time around. Towards the end of his presentation he touched on why SolidWorks and Dassault Systems are becoming one. Well they have been one since DS (Dassault Systems) bought SolidWorks in July of 1997 but there seems to be a desire to work more closely with each other now more than ever. I think that a “closer” relationship between these 2 will be nothing but good for the future of SolidWorks Corp. and for us as the users. It should be fun to see where this takes one of the largest 3D CAD software companies. As a side note it should be interesting also to see if this will mean anything with the relationship between Catia and SolidWorks seeing how DS owns them both.
After Jeff Ray finished up his presentation the stage was handed over to Bernard Charles of Dassault Systems. It was great to actually hear from someone at the parent company and see what they feel is the future of the relationship between themselves and SolidWorks. This is the first time that I have actually seen an employee from Dassault speak about this relationship which must mean that everyone between the 2 companies are on the same page. An interesting story that was told by Bernard was that a few months before the relationship between Dassault and SolidWorks was started, Bernard was actually contacted by someone from Solid Edge about a buyout for that 3D software. This deal made it as far as agreeing to a purchase price of $125 million dollars. After some careful consideration about Solid Edge and the future of the 3D CAD industry the relationship between Bernard Charles and Jon Hirschtick was born with the talk of a buyout of SolidWorks by Dassault Systems. In the end DS decided to buy SolidWorks for more money and less customers than what the deal with Solid Edge would have brought to the table but I would say that the right decision was made. Amazing how close this deal was to never being made and how that could have really reshaped the 3D CAD industry.
The next item on the agenda was a customer presentation by Martifer Group which is a construction group that is all over the world. This company uses SolidWorks in their daily activities for designs of metal structures among other architectural uses. Make sure that you check them out at www.martifer.com.
After the Martifer Group was done with their customer presentation the stage was turned over to Rich Welch and Bertrand Sicot both of SolidWorks Corp. Rich is in charge of Customer Relations at SolidWorks and reported a 91% customer satisfaction rating that was based off of surveys that had been completed and returned to the company. Once again, this presentation sounded a lot like last year at SolidWorks WORLD. The 91% is a good number, if not great but that still means that there are 9% out there that are not satisfied. The 91% is a number that I can see growing over the next few years as long as SolidWorks sticks to working on the things that they have been preaching for the last year. Focusing more on performance and stability and a little less on all of the extra “eye candy” will do nothing bust boost that 91% closer to the 100% mark. The users are begging for the performance and stability gains and I think for the first time in a long time SolidWorks 2009 will deliver those enhancements. Bertrand was also on stage during this time slot and discussed the financial status of the company. The numbers are ones that I think are more important to the traditional media and less important to the blogging media. There were some numbers that were thrown around during this session that may be of interest to you. SolidWorks has experienced a 22% revenue growth rate and last year had about $350 million is sales. The revenue by region breakdown was interesting to me: 18% Asia Pacific, 40% America, 42% Europe. It gives you a feel of the software’s popularity over seas. Last year there was around 50,000 seats of SolidWorks sold which gave them a total of 840,000 installed seats in June of 2008.
After Rich and Bertrand were finished it was on to another customer presentation this time by GTA Motors which is a race team. This was a really interesting presentation that showed a lot of the uses that SolidWorks has to offer. This race team was one that previously sent everything to outside vendors to be designed and finally determined that it was time for them to start doing the majority of it in house. After some research was done by talking to some of their vendors about acceptable and preferred file types, SolidWorks was the logical answer. Now GTA is able to design and test their racecars without having to have the actual car built to do any testing. GTA uses SolidWorks surfacing functionality to design all of their body panels. I think that this is the beginning of a big step by SolidWorks because it is showing the improvements that are being made to the surfacing functionality of their software. This has been a focus of the company it seems over the past couple of years and it shows that the improvements are being seen. Another interesting tool that they are using at GTA is the SolidWorks Flow Simulation which allows them to do wind testing right from the initial design. This is amazing functionality that is being used in a very interesting industry. Make sure you check them out at www.gtamotor.com.
Next up on the agenda was Marie Planchard, who I had the opportunity to sit at a table with at the press dinner on Wednesday. Marie is in charge of the educational efforts at SolidWorks Corporation and is doing a phenomenal job. She reported that their are over 500,000 educational seats of SolidWorks in existence YTD. That is an unbelievable number to me. That means that there are students in all walks of life that are getting SolidWorks training before they ever step in to the work world. I know personally that the high school in my hometown (Zeeland Public Schools) runs the software, it is great to see our high school students getting the opportunity to run this software especially in a manufacturing community where SolidWorks seems to be the “king”. There are a lot of great things going on in regards to the educational side of things at SolidWorks, not just in the United States but all over the world. Friday morning we had the opportunity to visit IQS (which I will go into detail about in a later post) to attend a hands on training session. IQS is a engineering college in Barcelona that is using SolidWorks to train their future workforce. This is GREAT!
After the 1 hour lunch break the press all headed back to the meeting room for a couple more afternoon sessions. The first session of the afternoon was amazing! The company was REEM-B and they have built a robot that is unbelievable and may be the future of robots in the general population. The robot was able to recognize faces, map out 2D rooms (3D rooms be worked on for the future), talk and do much more. The company is using SolidWorks to do their designing and testing with this creature. After seeing this robot communicate it just lets me know that nothing is impossible and the future will be interesting especially with companies using SolidWorks for their CAD system. Check out their official website at www.pal-robotics.com and to see a video of the robot in action click here.
To close out the afternoon Fielder Hiss, Mark Schneider and Neil Cooke did a demo of SolidWorks 2009. There was not a whole lot of new things that were shown that many of you haven’t already read about in the What’s New in SolidWorks 2009 blog posts that many of the bloggers did in August. One tool that I thought was very interesting that I haven’t seen much coverage on is the improvements that were made to the DWGeditor. This year you will be able to make DWG files that are fully associated to your 3D models. I don’t believe that dimensions will update automatically but your model view will which will be a huge asset to companies that are continuously sending DWG and DXF models to outside suppliers for manufacturing. This is not a tool that I have personally had the chance to test yet but be sure to play with it and I will also take a look at it and have a tutorial here for you in the future.
This concluded the official press day at the SolidWorks 2009 Press Launch Event. In conclusion there are A LOT of great things that are going on at SolidWorks right now. The future is very bright and I think that the sky is the limit right now. Don’t get me wrong, there are things that they need to work on but for the most part I think that they are on the right track. It seems as if the whole company is on the same page which is rather amazing to me for a company like this. Like I said, some of the stuff that was said throughout the day was repetitive from what we heard at SolidWorks WORLD 2008 and probably what we will hear at SolidWorks WORLD 2009. The things that they are preaching are the right things in my eyes. I am personally happy to be working with this software and this company and I am really looking forward to what the future holds for SolidWorks Corporation and all of its users.
For more coverage on the SolidWorks 2009 Press Launch Event check out these blogs.