How Does Solid Edge Get Some Rock ‘n Roll?

Al Dean’s image to start a blog post? Now that’s something I haven’t done before.

In another discussion, Al Dean (yes, that Al Dean on the left, not Jason Aldean, the country singer, not that there’s anything wrong with that…)0004 was thinking about the idea that Solid Edge needed some Rock ‘n Roll. Does that mean literally “rock ‘n roll” music, or rock ‘n roll in a metaphorical sense? And then if it is music, I’m not sure we could all agree on what kind of rock ‘n roll. I’m thinking Social Distortion, or somehow work Solid Edge into the base story line of the Blues Brothers movie.

<a href="" target="_blank"> 106 miles to Cincinnati. We Got a Full Tank of Gas, a Half a Pack of Cigarettes, It’s Dark and We’re Using Solid Edge. Hit it</a>.

Why does Solid Edge need rock ‘n roll?  Other CAD products have succeeded for a variety of reasons. In the ’80s and ’90s Pro/E thrived with the sort of corporate arrogance that was in vogue at the time, but that turned out to be their demise later. AutoCAD’s attraction was that it was cheap, and that it was widely bootlegged. Neither of those give us anything to emulate. SolidWorks’ initial charm was that it felt home brewed – by engineers for engineers. They continued to grow I think on ease of use. Personally, I don’t think any of the actual marketing campaigns SolidWorks led were particularly brilliant, it was the overall persona of the software as being an affordable tool for everyday engineers and designers.

Artists rendering of Karsten Newbury on stage at Solid Edge University 2013. All in good fun, of course. Cincinnati isn’t far from Graceland, and Graceland has a whole lotta rock ‘n roll.

Maybe the Rock ‘n Roll for Solid Edge needs to be internal. A couple of important changes that needed to happen are in place. First, Karsten Newbury is a guy you can believe in.  I don’t think the top dog needs to be the CAD brain, but he does need credibility, which he certainly has. Dan Staples, who is the CAD brain is also the right guy. The product has really flourished under his leadership. I think the product is 95% great stuff, with a few areas that need some tweaks. To me, the most important stuff is that they were able to integrate next-gen functionality without disrespecting the customer. I can’t say enough about how important that is. Autodesk and PTC are both trying to emulate the success of Solid Edge in this regard, in my opinion.

One of the ideas I’ve been critical of has been the idea that a CAD tool can make you do better work. I think the quality of the work is more a function of the person doing it. Using the right tool makes the work easy and fast. I’m not a huge fan of the “Design Better” slogan. Again, I don’t think my work would be any better with this tool or that tool, although one might take me twice as long, cause a lot of hair pulling, or might even lead me to give up.

How do other “tool” products sell their wares? Craftsman tools? You know they have a life time guarantee, so you know the company stands behind the product. Dewalt – Guaranteed Tough. Kobalt – Next Generation of Tough Tools. Honda Power Equipment – Power You Can Trust. So companies that are successful at selling great tools market based on quality, power and toughness. I don’t think CAD is any different. The people who use CAD are comfortable with physical tools, and consider their software a tool. I think CAD should be marketed as a tool. Not as some digital experience, or a pretty picture Easy Button. Ford Trucks? Built Ford Tough, not “drive better”.

The ideas of toughness/power and rock ‘n roll are easy to put together. I think Solid Edge needs to come up with themes that engineers can relate to. Stuff that is at the root of our love for tools and the product of our tools. Want engineers to get excited? Connect yourselves to stuff that makes us excited.

9 Replies to “How Does Solid Edge Get Some Rock ‘n Roll?”

  1. The second viewer that Solid Edge users can take advantage of is the tool called View and Markup. It is the Solid Edge equivalent of eDrawings. Maybe not a 1:1 match, but it allows view, markup, measurement, assembly trees, motion, PMI (dimensions), section views, perspective, and saving to PCF with password security. It also has Revision Manager and an editor. In addition to the types of files the Solid Edge Viewer can read, View and Markup can also read Parasolid, NX, Microstation, CoCreate/ME10, and STL files.

  2. After 14 years as a SolidWorks consultant with over 40 clients, thank goodness I’m done with that, I never heard anyone mention SolidEdge. Just sayin’

    Cheers, Devon


    1. Devon, Possibly that’s because the area where you live has been a SW sales stronghold for years and many businesses need to work in together. Employers can readily find trained SW staff etc.
      Maybe SE should target specific areas like yours to gain critical mass/acceptance. VARS could offer SE retraining courses and consultation tuned to the industry. Sounds like an opportunity for someone like yourself.. 😉
      When businesses are actually confronted with the death of SW and migrating to something else whether that’s Catia lite or something else they might be receptive to looking at SE where they hadn’t got a foothold before. I imagine there are many defence contractors around San Diego who would have difficulty with a cloud solution and also data migration. If SE were offering attractive deals to coordinate change with suppliers and subcontractors it could be a pivot point that fans out elsewhere. If SE were to get in soon/first and proactively promote the known virtues of SE it might be a good strategic move for them. DS havent even been able to answer one simple question about their endeavours. Sooner or later though tough choices are going to have to be made despite many people saying they will sit and wait to see what arrives. Adopting SE might be seen as the more attractive of the ‘2 evils’ even in traditionally entrenched SW zones. Its even possible in another 14 years hardly anyone will remember using SW…

      1. I live in a similar area in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul). During the heyday and even today the number of VARs is still well over 6-1 ratio. In the heyday our area was called the snakepit because you would be competeing not on with SW but against 3-4 SW VARs who would undercut each other to a point of being nearly a loss for the VAR with hopes to make up some costs in services/training.

        Today, if you mention Solid Edge to any company manager or designer/engineer you get corrected, “Don’t you mean SolidWorks?”

        Let’s just all pray that the new PR group Siemens signed up will start to make a difference soon. I’d hate to see the shy, quite boy on the block grow up to be a shy quite man instead of the butt kickin’ CEO of a multi-billion dollar company.

  3. How do you sell anything these days?
    Name/logo recognition/repute, established fitness/quality, appropriate function for the need, making for the market but offering a little more for the price than expected, stylish presentation – packaging, product itself, advertising, availability of useful/relevant information, independant reviews/testing, fuss free support/spares/servicing, meeting place for user to user dialogue, online and enthusiasts meet up, simple guarantees and fair conditions of sale/replacement, decent manuals, video tutorials, easy contacts with knowledgeable technical people forsupport beyond regular use, a good distribution network/global availability, relaxed and helpful sales approach, a consistant pitch/association in tune with the audience/customers psyche.

    Company’s need to know what their business actually is and who their customers actually are. In the case of CAD the customers are people trying to create something using a computer based tool set. What are the real interests/needs of the users? What makes them happy? and conversly what ruins their day? There isn’t anything magical about this. To date then IMO SE hasn’t been marketed in a meaningful way by people who really know what they are doing but perhaps that’s down to people higher up the food chain living in the past as well. Its time to take a fresh look at CAD and fit it to todays user. Out goes the obnoxious legalise stuff, the obligatory VAR support and all the outmoded baggage from mainframe days. Time to find a very competant technical marketing company to do this for Siemens. If Caterpillar, Ford etc can do this right it can be for SE.
    I don’t think it needs rock and roll. It needs a classic lullaby, something comforting, stable, safe, familiar, a backdrop to the vital energy provided by the enthusiasm of the users and that changes from occasion to occasion and with the personality of the individual. If people whistle a happy tune its because they are content in themselves, not that they have been bombarded by 110db of rock and roll and forgot their cares for 30 mins. If people go along to a SE university it ought to be because they can learn things, be listened to/exchange with the company directly, and enjoy themselves and each other informally. Do we need to see Karsten on stage dressed as Elvis? Probably about as much as we need to arrange pet weddings in the SW UI.

  4. @Bob-

    “Design Better” is a derivative of Siemens “smarter decisions, better products”. It’s an attempt to pull all NX, TC and SE together under that umbrella.

    All the brands listed are also recognized by their brand colors..which leads to Larry’s comments on better brand identification.

  5. If you’ve ever been around Rock and Roll you know a lot of bands get stickers printed which they stick up in every seedy bathroom in whatever college town they are trying to get discovered in. I’m not advocating that, but Siemens could put some stickers in with the media that enthusiasts could stick on their computers or office door or cubical wall. I would put one on my vintage racing motorcycle and I know at least one Solid Works user that would see it! I designed a magneto cover with the Yamaha tuning fork design in it that wowed a lot of my fellow racers.

    Also, find users that are designing exciting stuff and develop ads around them- advanced cars, race parts, musical instruments, boats. I know it’s obvious, but I don’t see that much of it from Siemens.

    1. Larry,

      We have developed a campaign where we’ll put stickers on products that were developed with Solid Edge when our customers go to an exhibition or fair. These same stickers were put on some customers websites and catalogs (digital and paper catalogs), so that other people can actually see real products developed with SE. We have a “We Design With Solid Edge” for companies and “Designed With Solid Edge” for products. So, we can send you a sticker for your vintage motorcycle 🙂

  6. Al, I couldn’t agree more…. I sometimes feel that those who sell “tools” such as CAD, and especially Solid Edge, forget what the word means. What complicates matters is that with CAD there’s more that meets the eye. We aren’t just making pretty 2D pictures which 100 year old technology such a printing can produce, but actual “real” products. So good enough, is well, NOT good enough. And as you so rightfully state, CAD does not make you a better Designer/Engineer . However but a great CAD package, can make you more efficient, help you solve tuff design problems, all the while enjoying the process more.

    So the tag line “Design Better” is somewhat nebulous. I know what they were thinking but you’re right it really doesn’t have the heart of why Solid Edge can make this happen. It’s more of a “Design with Confidence” but that doesn’t sound exciting either.

    It’s not easy defining something as complicated as CAD with just 2 or 3 words….


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