Dassault's 3DEXPERIENCE, recently concluded in Orlando, found itself sandwiched between Super Storm Sandy and a winter storm that followed quickly on its heels. But it is an internal storm -- one that CEO Bernard Charles has unleashed -- that is affecting the giant CAD company the most. It is in the form of Monica Menghini. Hurricane Monica may do more to change the landscape of CAD -- or at least that of Dassault -- than any force of nature.
Bernard introduces her onstage at the user conference -- and gets out of the way, but not before he warns us to “be careful.” She is a force to be reckoned with. Even the Mafia has no chance. Monica has prosecuted organized crime figures in her native Italy. She was also a professional volleyball player.
We are captivated. It's too much for CAD insiders. We are not used to women. Not thin, good looking women in black dresses and heels. With accents. Not at our user meetings. We stare slack jawed. Geeky brain desperately shifting gears, trying to adjust. It takes a while before we can make out what she is saying. But a force majeure doesn't wait for men.
Monika comes to us from Saatchi and Saatchi, the British ad agency. More recently, she was “brand equity builder” at Procter & Gamble
Ad agency savvy has led to ads like this from Dassault (from http://www.whichplm.com/)
We are treated to advertising campaigns, glossy, even sexy. Luscious lips about to swallow a capsule filled with little balls and something about “swallowing robots." Then there are the icebergs being towed across the ocean.
“That ad was achieved a 27% retention score,” says Monica proudly of the lips ad at the press luncheon. “People identified the message with Dassault.”
It is apparent that Bernard has given Monica free reign. He is depending on her to make an Dassault a company of international and very public renown.
Dassault is not alone in trying to increase its perception and association to more than just CAD. Several have tried branding themselves as PLM companies -- with mixed success. But none have sought to throw their name so far and wide. This was not a job Bernard could give to someone on the inside. He had to find someone outside, someone unencumbered with CAD and the inherent pragmatism of its practitioners. This job had to go to someone not afraid to strike out, be different, able to run over obstacles. Someone who can stare down a a barrel.
Smaller minds in the room are left wondering what Monica's messages have to so with them and their little corners of the world, with CATIA, ENOVIA, SolidWorks, or other current Dassault products. But they miss the point. It is not what Dassault offers now, but what Dassault will offer in the future. If recent history serves and as indication, there will be a wealth of offerings that will vary greatly in their breadth and application. Their connection to the whole may be hard to grasp, but in some time theere will be a smiling, friendly French man who will be happy to explain it all to us.
Until then, in Bernard we trust.