Well, another COE Annual Conference is over and the value of bringing together USERS has been proven again. In these days when online communication is so accessible, it is great to see how users respond to hearing advice and ideas from their fellow users as much as they do to the experts from Dassault Systèmes and other partners. Perhaps it is the dedicated time, instead of snatching a few minutes while at work, or it is the opportunity to interpret the body language, vocal tone and crowd reaction that makes the presentation of experience more effective at a physical event?
From a Dassault Systèmes’ perspective, it is always an interesting occasion because the focus of discussion moves from the sales people to the technical, training, support and development teams. Many of these meetings have been taking place for many years, (Philippe Laufer, CATIA CEO, has been discussing with COE members for years since his time as an R&D product manager). So the planning and thinking that takes place in these 3 days can drive a years work and the chance to mix the work with an element of socializing only helps the productivity. CATIA is certainly at the heart of the conference but almost every user also has a connection with another Dassault Systèmes brands or partner application. This discussion, around real world environments, makes the key difference between a sales and marketing event and a user event plus it links in the participation of nearly all the Dassault Systèmes brands to serve the users needs.
But my personal lesson is that COE is not about just 3 days in April but it is a year round community that has its foundation in the Regional User Groups (RUGs) and the online forums. Without doubt the annual conference needs to justify the time and investment of the COE members and their employers but it’s integrity and right to speak for its members is based on discussions and experience that is captured at regional and communal level.
The coming year seems to be a good one! The V6 discovery panel, (a shared V6 design project that is supported by Dassault Systèmes), as well as potential new RUGs in places as diverse as Seattle and Shanghai, show that COE really is thinking about its member’s needs. The foundation for members coming to COE is about education. The COE University classes as well as the expert sessions represent significant value to users and the future seems to be bright in this area, so that the new opportunities that Dassault Systèmes brands bring can be tested, learnt and discussed by the COE members and valuable lessons learned.
COE is not the only strong CATIA user group in the world but it does possess a certain style. This could be based around the people that drive the organisation or it may be that the Florida sun is more appealing than the UK rain 😉 But it is certainly a group of people that when motivated can energize the user base and is never afraid to ask the tough questions. The coming months will show that CATIA and its user groups can do more to connect users, discussions and awareness of how CATIA can shape the product design experience. User groups, like COE, are key partners in that and we look forward to announcing some fun ways that CATIA users can hold their hands up to be counted. I am currently trying to build connections with user groups around the world so that we can increase our support for their efforts, if you are part of a group or would appreciate some assistance in starting a group then please let me know 🙂