Scenes from CAD Monkey; Gauging the mood on Solidworks’ future at its pre-conference kickoff.
Nashville, Saturday, February 8th – In the next day or so, thousands of Solidworks users will converge on the Music City for their annual pilgrimage to Solidworks World, but it isn’t here…or is it?
Redubbed as 3DExperience World and announced at last year’s Solidworks World, we witnessed the sideways look you would expect from a passionate fan base that had been told change was coming to something that wasn’t broken. What could erasing “Solidworks” from its namesake conference telegraph about its place in the Dassault Systemes parent company family?
Would Solidworks World go the way of the Pro/User Conference? Four years ago we attended its metamorphosis into PTC‘s LiveWorx. The IoT meteor had hit, and a hundred or so Designers huddled in the informational session on the newest Creo release, a small raft in a sea of 6000 conventioneers. Many spoke to us with the marginalized resignation of their Ice Age to come.
So to gauge the mood of Solidworks users in the midst of its own sea-change, we would find the perfect focus group at the CAD Monkey Dinner, a speakeasy for the conference’s early arrivals started by Solidworks most ardent supporters. Boston-Area SolidWorks User Group Leader, Dan Herzberg and his wife Kayla have been a two-person wonder duo, keeping the torch of this Solidworks World tradition lit. John Galt Staffing would be on hand not only to help host the informal kickoff but use the party as a barometer of the pre-conference mood.
The first question was whether the normal cadre of Solidworks super users and thought leaders would still come? You betcha. There’s Ed Gebo (NH Solidworks User Group Leader) and Tom Cote (Tampa Bay SWUG Leader), both popular conference presenters. There’s Rachel York, a SWUG Leader who Solidworks named as their Community and User Advocacy Manager. Her title alone should hint you how seriously Solidworks values its users. From as far as the UK, many more of Solidworks’ respected community kept coming, packing the rooftop at the Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery.
But it was the presence of one last CAD Monkey attendee, and it’s an unlikely one that sealed our optimism for Solidworks and 3DX World enthusiasm. Lynn Allen is a renowned Technology Evangelist who you can be sure to find at the cutting edge. Many of you knew her as the face and voice of Autodesk, and here she was, now with Solidworks. She said she expressed to Dassault corporate how impressed she was by the strength of its User community. As someone who is embedded and beloved in the CAD community in general, she should know. Her presence speaks volumes.
Judging by audience participation alone, no doubt the CAD Monkey Dinner affirmed its status as Solidworks grassroots’ ground zero. We were in the right place.
But would the symbiosis of corporate leadership with its customers fostered over the years remain steadfast? Again the CAD Monkey Dinner is not an official conference event, it’s independently organized by the Solidworks community for the community. But year after year, Solidworks most senior executives were regular fixtures, answering questions, sharing information and picking brains. If indeed, Solidworks’ place was diminished to an afterthought, and with it, its community reduced to Dassault’s unwashed masses, you would think tonight’s event would be only worthy of the corporate 10 foot pole.
Once the party was in full swing though, there was a buzz of excitement as Solidworks CEO Gian Paulo Bassi, affectionately referred to as G.P., stepped off the elevator and mingled with the crowd. And he didn’t just do the politician’s 15 minutes of be seen and say a few words for the photo-op. He hung out…like ate really good but bad for your health food, look at pics you shared of your dogs and designs, and take a selfie with you kind of hung out. The flag of corporate support could not fly any higher.
Just off to G.P.’s side the synthesis of user feedback and product responsiveness was in full effect with Sal Lama, Director of Product Definition for Solidworks. You may not know the guy who leads the design of new functionalities for Solidworks, but everyone here did. And they have opinions.
Later we caught up with Suchit Jain, Vice President of Strategy and Business Development for Solidworks. What can regular attendees of Solidworks World expect from 3DExperience World we asked? They can expect the same great Solidworks World experience plus more! He explained the reality that the design stage is tied to the work of many others in and out of its client companies, whether its marketing, downstream at manufacturing or even the need to share designs with outside vendor partners in a secure manner. From what we gathered the 3D experience is meant to maximize the advantages of coherence and coordination. TRANSLATION: Solidworks place isn’t diminished, it’s the headwater from which the 3DExperience river flows.
And with that confluence comes a conference that according to Jain now has the potential to blossom five-fold. So it looks like the tradition of the CAD Monkey Dinner will continue and GROW for many years to come. John Galt Staffing looks forward to seeing you next year, as we informally kickoff 3DExperience World…Same great SolidWorks World plus more!
[Ed note: It was announced at the end of the conference that 3DExperience World will be returning to Nashville next year. Yay!]