Dassault Systèmes, the French 3D design company, recently hosted the 13th edition of its annual 3D Experience Forum in Bengaluru. On the sidelines of the event, vice-chairman and CEO, Bernard Charlès, talked about the company’s strategy for India and the latest technologies it is working on. Edited excerpts of the interview:
How big is the India operation?
Dassault Systèmes is truly a global company. So, while we are headquartered in France, we have significant labs across Europe, America and Asia, which is mainly India.
We basically have three big campuses—in France near Paris, in Boston, and Pune in India. We also have satellite labs that are smaller and very specific in science and technology. In Pune, we have a research and development (R&D) lab. So everything that’s done in our Pune centre is not only for India, but for the world. We started as a joint venture with Geometric until we were so successful that we bought it (in 2016) to continue to expand it.
What percentage of your global revenue do you spend on R&D?
We probably have one of the highest R&D spends—somewhere above 30%. In terms of resources, it would be even more. And, if you add to that the acquisitions we do, most of them are in R&D and science, more than sales. So, if you were to take this into account, it would be more than 40% of our total revenue.
Are you focusing on verticals other than aerospace and auto as part of your growth strategy?
It’s true that in India we have a strong position in aerospace and space, and also in transportation and mobility. We also focus on industrial equipment and machines, what we call general mechanics. This is probably the biggest segment of all because it cuts across all types of industries. If you look at the expansion, we are focussing a lot in energy and materials, which include mining software solutions.
In India, we are also working with the state governments, starting with Jaipur (Rajasthan), which includes the digital representation of Jaipur in 3D for urban planning and simulation. I think the Jaipur showcase is a world example.
What are the latest technologies you are working on—artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), etc.?
We have been using AI for 25 years. We started with highly-sensitive military programmes around the globe in America and Europe. For example, in new material science, or new generative design of system, smart observation system, there is a lot of AI technology. The reason why it was not mentioned as AI was because they were specific to a certain usage. The reason why AI has become more visible now is our generic engines with which you can apply it to different types of problems.
On the IoT side, too, we are the world leader in manufacturing operations—what we call MES, or manufacturing execution system.
When you have sensors or robots or machine, there is IoT everywhere. So I think our solution called DELMIA Apriso is probably the world’s biggest data collection machine for manufacturing.
You are also working with startups in India. What’s the motivation behind this move?
My motivation is I want to make sure we work with the best entrepreneurs. There is a certain effect of that, which is why we did this centre in Pune, what we call the 3D Experience Lab, which creates an incredible goodwill from young generation to say, I want to have this platform to develop my business.
The fact that entrepreneurs will be successful with our platform, I think, is the best marketing for any company. Lucid Implants and Log9 Materials have won the pitch at our 3D Experience Forum in Bengaluru this year.