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UGS Calls on Marketing to Put Solid Edge in the Lead

An interview with UGS VP Bruce Boes, who thinks other products getting more credit than Solid Edge is just plain unfair

by Roopinder Tara, Editor, TenLinks, October 7, 2005

Bruce Boes, VP UGS Velocity Series Marketing

TenLinks tracked down Bruce Boes, VP UGS Velocity Series Marketing, at the recent Solid Edge user conference. Despite running the show, Bruce made time to talk to us. (For a report on the user conference, see "Solid Edge Seeks Spotlight")

Bruce has been with UGS for 3 years. UGS has shown growth in each quarter of the last 3 years. Bruce is too modest to make the connection. You see, Bruce is more of a company man. He’ll devote most of our time together convincing me that Solid Edge is the best (SolidWorks and Inventor be damned) and that UGS is a great company. “What do you expect, I’m in marketing,” he says with a smile.

UGS Not Content to Let Products Sell Themselves

I talked with Bruce after Tony Affuso, president and CEO of UGS, had put him on the spot. Tony had told all assembled (600 estimated) Solid Edge users, vendors, etc., that UGS was not going to depend on the product selling itself, as it had in the past—they were now going to market the product! That put the ball solidly in Bruce’s court.

Bruce was unfazed. We’ve already started, he said, pointing to my very presence. Press exposure is of paramount importance to the new strategy. This was the first time the media has been invited to a Solid Edge user meeting. Thanks, Bruce. In addition, to reach the masses yet unenlightened on 3D modeling, UGS was going to offer 30 day trial period for Solid Edge. I suggested a longer period as CAD users generally invest a lot of time in learning software and may be unlikely to stick around if they hear a clock ticking but Bruce honestly thinks Solid Edge can be learned very quickly.

In addition, UGS was going to increase its advertising. Well, that was good news for all of us who depend on ad revenue. I didn’t press for details as I was here on an editorial capacity but I’m sure Bruce’s phone will be ringing off the hook soon enough.

Better Mousetraps Don't Sell Themselves

Solid Edge is no slouch technically. For years, it has had one of the best, if not the best, user interfaces in the MCAD market, sporting a one-of-a-kind dashboard in which tools and information are displayed in accordance with the task on hand. Its 2D drawing tools are tops and it can handle very large assemblies quicker than others, says Bruce. Most CAD pundits have agreed that Solid Edge will more than hold its own in a product comparison.

Perhaps borne of frustration, Tony Affuso said he can no longer stand by and let the product sell itself. While the product may be able to hold its own technically, its chief competitors have had their marketing departments running full speed for years. Autodesk, some would say, is at its heart a marketing-driven company and the CEO of SolidWorks was once the company’s VP of marketing.

I asked if the push on marketing was due to SolidWorks and Autodesk Inventor leaving Solid Edge behind. Bruce doesn’t see it this way at all. If anything, it was a 3 way race, with SolidWorks, Inventor AND Solid Edge running away from the rest of the competition.

Velocity Series Introduced

Not only that, but with the newly announced UGS Velocity Series, Solid Edge has the inside track, says Bruce. Velocity Series is going to change the game by bringing PLM to the masses. However, PLM’s (product lifecycle management) charter is so big (software that can take care of everything from concept to production) that few seem to have a real grasp of it. But in reality, what UGS is referring to is the bundling of PDM software (Teamcenter Express) and analysis (FEMAP) with the design product (Solid Edge). According to UGS, this will make the UGS Velocity Series alone the only midrange MCAD product that has room to grow. Solid Edge and Teamcenter Express are ever so compatible with its big brothers, NX and Teamcenter. Other products have dead ends. SolidWorks’ PDMWorks shares a different data format than Dassault’s SMARTEAM. Autodesk’s Inventor is even worse off as Autodesk still has to jump into cPDM (collaborative product design management).

Also, UGS points to the recently announced FEMAP Express, included with Solid Edge V18. While Solid Edge had FEA previously through its partners (Solid Edge Voyager), this brings products under one roof, or as Bruce puts it, gives users “one throat to choke.”

VAR Capacity to Increase 50%

Still, even with putting more in the box and increased marketing, you still need boots on the ground to sell it. To that end, UGS hopes to increase the VAR capacity 50% by the end of 2006. UGS will expand capacity through a stronger channel program with current partners, plus add additional partners as needed.

UGS will be looking for VARs of competing products that are not happy with their current arrangements. UGS asked that I not name a company that [in UGS' opinion] has soured its VAR relationships but indicated that would certainly be where they would look for experienced MCAD sellers. 

NX vs. Solid Edge

With 2 separate product lines, where does UGS see NX and Solid Edge product lines in 5 years? The product lines will stay distinct, says Bruce. Each line serves a different market. On one hand, we have customers who say total cost of ownership is very important. For them Solid Edge is perfect with its pre-configured best practices. Other customers say ‘I have to have the job done tomorrow, I don’t care what it costs costs but I want it to work according to my own best practices.’ For them, NX makes sense.

Speaking of Cost

How much will Velocity Series cost? It appears that you will be able to get SE v18 including FEMAP Express for around $5K for a single seat. If you want Teamcenter Express, that will cost more but the price of this bundle has not yet been determined but will be closer to their release dates (sometime in Q4).

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