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Industry Insight Interview: Business Sustainability - Colin Clemson, Dassault Systèmes

Friday June 17, 2022 at 11:30am

Sustainability has quickly gone from a nice-to-have initiative to a must for all businesses, but what does it mean? Business sustainability goes beyond planting trees and looks deep into people, processes and technologies.

We spoke to Colin Clemson, Customer Process Experience Leader at Dassault Systèmes to hear his thoughts on business sustainability.

What key challenges have you been hearing from customers recently?

Our customers are facing massive challenges these days. They need to manage the increase in material costs. They need to manage the increase in energy costs, but also new regulations, geopolitical decisions as well are having a huge burden on our customers. At the same time, they face a shortage of suppliers and not only that, the workforce. How do they secure new talent? In the, in the workplace. So, they have lots of challenges, but that gives us fantastic opportunities, for Solid Solutions and Dassault Systèmes. I think we can help with some of those challenges as well.  

How can we support customers with their sustainability goals?

You can’t switch on the news today without hearing the word sustainability, but it’s not just in the news. It’s on every CEO’s mind. And following the recent COP 26 event in Edinburgh, I was reading an article and the article was clear in stating that the topic of sustainability is the top issue on 73% of chief executive officer’s mind. The key thing there is, you know, how do we help with that and how to help them address those initiatives? We know as well that the world we live in is more and more volatile. It’s more uncertain, and it’s more complex and it’s ambiguous, right? And those challenges are faced by every CEO as well as this topic of sustainability. 

How do we address those challenges? How do we help our customers become more business sustainable? In the challenging context, our customers are becoming more interested in the power of virtual twin experiences. These enable our customers to have a real-time virtual representation of their product, the platform, or ecosystem, that they use to model, visualise, predict as well, and provide feedback on any complex system or any complex production line or even the human heart for example. We can help with the virtual twin technology to provide more sustainable operations and a transition towards a more circular economy as well. Our customers understand that if we can help them reinvent, reimagine the world of tomorrow and at the same time, drive their own resilience in the marketplace and drive their sustainability agenda then there will be a true partnership moving forward.  

Can we turn sustainability from a risk into an opportunity?

How do we turn sustainability from a risk to an opportunity? In three domains from my perspective. First, in the way that our clients innovate their products and services that they deliver to the market. Secondly, in the way that they work with more agile organisations and broader networks of people, skills, and knowledge, creating the workforce of the future. And finally, how do they create value while at the same time reinventing their business models?  

Why does sustainability matter? 

Why does the sustainability of products and services matter to our clients? Let’s take a couple of simple examples from different industries. By 2030 electric cars should represent 60% of all new sales. And in the last 10 years, electronic waste has grown by 40%, but we are only recycling less than 20%. Another example; 14% of the food is lost along the supply chain before it even reaches the end customer. So, we’re facing massive challenges in terms of products and services. How can we help? Well, with the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform, we can bring together a wide range of technologies for design development, simulation, manufacturing, planning, and project management. And it enables the development of those virtual twin experiences to provide not only a digital representation of the product, but also simulation of how that product may behave in the real world and how it’s assembled, how it’s delivered. How a customer can interact with it from cradle to cradle.  

What is meant by the terms ‘cradle to cradle’ and ‘circular economy’?

So, I said, cradle to cradle. I didn’t say cradle to grave. And why is that? Well, the circular economy for me is a simple idea that increases in complexity dependent, obviously, on which industry you are working in and in today’s economy, what do we do? We take resources. We make things with them. And then we throw them away at the end, we live in a take, make, waste economy. And for me, the idea of a circular economy or cradle to cradle, as I mentioned, is to change our habits into a circle that we take, we make and then we reuse to keep resources in the economy for as long as possible. So today sitting on a chair, what will the chair be in its next life when they recycle it?  

How can we evolve the workforce of the future?

We all know about that. 90% of companies as well, lack the digital skills to drive the transformation. And the board of directors is ageing rapidly across the world. 

We need to define a new way of working. We need to leverage the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform to help people really collaborate and contribute through communities, dashboards, and interactive group applications, such as 3DSWYM for example, on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform. So, in that way, people can capture their ideas. They can share knowledge and maximise business benefit as well, of course, in value to the business, that knowledge is stored. It’s reused, it’s leveraged, and anyone else in the business, and the supply chain can use it and they can continue learning, leveraging the power of the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform. 

We can also protect that corporate memory. And that is so important because of what we mentioned earlier, an ageing workforce, how do we protect the knowledge to know how that experience within the business? And we can do that again by capturing the data and on the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform, the compass allows you to understand the past, while better navigating the future.  

How can we support businesses with more sustainable business models?

The world needs new business models. We have to change, right? And, and we’ve got to drive the transition to a 21st-century economy aligned with ethical, social, and environmental concerns. As we mentioned earlier, you can’t turn on the news, right, without hearing the word sustainability. So, business models, again, we come back to the same point I did earlier, some key facts. Half of the fortune 500 companies have disappeared in the last 20 years. We count today more on more than a thousand unicorns and startup companies across just the Euro North region who are innovating and disrupting entire sectors. The majority of companies now consider that business models are a source of future competitive advantage. So we can help those clients now define what those business models are in a more sustainable way on the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform and power collaboration between suppliers, customers, and internal stakeholders. But in addition, it allows businesses to simulate how operating models will work again in the real world when they’re implemented through the creation of virtual twins.   

How have we been supporting customers with their sustainability goals so far?

One of the clients that we’re working with together, Solid Solutions and Dassault Systèmes, knows only too well how important that topic of sustainability is, and that client’s vertical aerospace. They’re not your typical aerospace and defence company, right? They are disrupting the whole industry. They’re leading the way in sustainable aviation and revolutionising urban air travel. And that’s all being done on the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform, helping them create new products and services, new business models, and protecting that workforce of the future. 

There are also new electric truck companies, and they’re also disrupting the market. They don’t even call themselves truck companies anymore. They focus on decarbonising logistics. They talk about making city centre streets safer, and they also talk about making it a healthier, more pleasant place in the world.   

How do virtual twins fit into the mix?

Virtual twins are becoming a reality for professionals, consumers, patients, as well as citizens and workers. And we can all model and simulate what they imagine and how they make it real. So, what is our mission? Our mission is to provide virtual universes to enable sustainable innovation. And our strategic ambition is to become the world’s number one partner in reinventing a sustainable economy. 

What are your thoughts on the emergence of Business Transformation within the Solid Solutions Group?

Solid Solutions are a great business, with over 40,000 clients even before the acquisition of Design Rule and Desktop Engineering. These acquisitions give the opportunity for Solid Solutions to grow on that solid foundation, the 40,000 customers to elevate the conversation, to ensure that we can deliver an end-to-end capability for all those clients from cradle to cradle using the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform. So, for me, it’s a great step. It will disrupt the market undoubtedly because this Desktop Engineering and Design Rule are both great companies in their own, right. But now they have the power of Solid Solutions to drive that business forward.

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