Solid Edge

Solid Edge University 2013, Part 2: Q&A with Karsten Newbury

8 Aug, 2013 By: Nancy Spurling Johnson

Senior vice-president discusses the direction of Solid Edge under his leadership.


At its Solid Edge University (SEU) 2013 user conference in Covington, Kentucky, early this summer, Siemens PLM Software introduced Solid Edge ST6, the latest version of its midrange 3D mechanical design solution. Known for its synchronous technology, which offers fully integrated constraint-driven modeling and history-free (or "direct") modeling within the same interface, the software is now available for download.

Among its 1,300 new features, Solid Edge ST6 includes a YouTube docking pane that lets users record, upload, and directly share a modeling session on YouTube, as well as search YouTube for other Solid Edge videos. Users can also access discussions, tutorials, and expert advice via a new online Solid Edge Community. Also new is a partnership with the open engineering web site GrabCAD to facilitate real-time model sharing and review on the cloud for those users who want it. Users will be able to upload files directly from Solid Edge ST6 to GrabCAD Workbench, controlling access to those files as they see fit. (See our Part 1 report for the full overview of new features.)

At SEU 2013, I sat down with Karsten Newbury, the Siemens PLM Software senior vice-president and general manager who oversees the business segment that develops Solid Edge and other products in the Velocity Series product portfolio. In this interview (which has been edited for length), we discussed what's behind the latest Solid Edge developments.

Nancy Johnson: This morning at the Solid Edge keynote, you introduced Dan Staples [director, Solid Edge] by saying, "This is the best version of Solid Edge ever." Do you say that about every release, or is there something in particular that makes it better this time around?

Karsten Newbury: Well, it's a good question because, of course, if the next release wasn't better, why would we have done it? This is the first release I've said this about, and I've been with the business for a few releases. Although we keep improving, in this one we've really brought a lot of things together.

[As part of Siemens], we manage together as a team, and what happens there is you start having much more customer input to the product. You have more input into sales as to what the product can actually do. We market a consistent story. We spend a lot of time thinking about, Who are we? and Why are we doing this? We're all excited about developing Solid Edge because we help people do a better job designing. If you can get that into the hearts and minds of the developers, now they start thinking not about code but, How can I help the guy out there that's trying to do a job?

If you look at, for example, this in-product YouTube functionality, that's a connection now between the user community which sits outside of the actual product. And what we're driving is much more of that connectivity.

[So] we've done a lot of work on ST6, listening to users, connecting the product with the community. That's why I honestly say it is the best version. And it's like the sales manager saying, this is the most important quarter of our lives, every quarter. But it's actually the first time I've said it. Next year, you can check if say the same thing!

I'll call you on it! Can you say a little bit more about that community? That's a new direction. What's your philosophy behind building that community?

The community's a big part. We're trying to start out in a focused way. We have a very specific purpose in terms of our online community that we're working on right now, and that's learning. How do we help people get their arms around all of the functionality that's out there? It's like getting into one of these big BMWs and you don't know what all the knobs are for. It's like that in software too.

Online community is really important because it helps with in-context learning, but it also brings people together. Who knows who's going to jump in and help out with a problem. It's a much more open world now, which breaks down barriers and helps with communication and knowledge exchange. Knowledge exchange is really crucial in our field because we're not talking about widgets or commodities. It's sophisticated software, if that makes sense. And there's a lot more to the community, where I think it can go. But we're trying to really keep it focused, rather than "like us," "share us," whatever. What's the purpose? The purpose is we help you be more effective in doing your job.

This YouTube function idea that we offered, we had a lot of discussions about that because if you're in a bigger company and there's a CAD administrator, they're going to be worried about what [users are] going to do with that [YouTube access]. We actually allow companies, if they want, to just switch that off. But we think once people experience that a bit more [they will] see the value. It doesn't allow you to just search anything. It's focused on [Solid Edge].

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