Much to my amazement today I go to the Solid Edge Siemens forum and for the first time ever see a professional looking page. http://community.plm.automation.siemens.com/t5/Solid-Edge-User-Community/ct-p/solid-edge takes you there. My main reason for going there however was to promote the upcoming first ever Cincinnati user group for Solid Edge. I happen to think that user groups are a value to local users in many ways. Unfortunately the promises made by John Miller at SEU 2015 do not appear to have any support to speak of from official Siemens auspices and it looks like it is primarily a local VAR and user interest entity. I have waited for some official information to be forwarded to me and none has arrived so today I will give the link to the group and talk about why you should go. First off though http://community.plm.automation.siemens.com/t5/Cincinnati-EdgeGroup/gp-p/CincinnatiEdgeGroup is the site to the group.
I have always felt that user groups benefit primarily users in the beginning. They can network to find mentors and talent for hire and work for hire among local people and businesses. Your peers will be a real source of help and information and contacts that VAR’s and Siemens and SE will never be. Forward looking companies like Solid Works used to be before the corporate Francophile era began realized this and built a user group network that helped in serious ways to gain them the #1 spot in mid range MCAD. Over time sellers of software benefit from user associations and SW is proof of this. Today it would be harder to benefit from this compared to years ago due to resistance to having to change software of use. With a much more mature market it now boils down to who can you steal existing users from not how do you find vast new sources of new users. In this regard I am sad to say that SE is losing this race based on users in the existing Huntsville user group for SE. Ashland Hot Water heaters and Hyco Hydraulics are two companies that used to use SE who have been bought out and the new owners use SW. The power of an established user network and base once again proving it’s effectiveness against those who do not subscribe to this paradigm. These two companies were a fair percentage of the SE users that showed up to the Huntsville group and they were interested and supportive and now no more.
It is a thankless task for an individual to be a leader of a user group in many ways. Perhaps the worst single thing is to be one and work to get people there and very few show up. It kills enthusiasm quickly for something that should be common sense for local users but alas is not. SO I urge you local users get behind this effort and be there. It will benefit you.
One of the reasons I switched to Hagerman for Inventor was the the idea of local physical support if needed and local user groups sponsored by the same. I must admit to being a bit saddened by what I see so far here and even though I have offered to work with forming an HSM local user group to date there is nothing much to speak of. After dealing with Siemens I have determined that I am not going to beg for these user things to happen any more. Either the VAR will or wont and it is not my job to pursue them and cajole or shame them into doing something. I have some sympathy for VARS in this area though and cant blame them as much as I blame the software authoring companies for user groups demise. In the case of Siemens they do not care if SE goes right straight to you know where. It has been proven that if you care and want SE to succeed you will be run off. So I suspect affiliated VAR’s who are not stupid see the handwriting on the wall and refuse to spend money and time that will not yield positive results. I predict the Cincinnati user group will be the only new one this year and if this nonsense keeps up may be the last ever and it being some what short lived. User group networks can’t survive or even begin if the corporate sponsors do not pursue it.
The Autodesk VAR’s are faced with another big problem and if it has not dawned on them yet it will soon. How does a software company like Autodesk or Dassault eliminate a huge demand upon their profits? Well I think the decision has been made in these two places to jettison the whole or much of the VAR network over time and replace it with subscription based markets. IF they can which I hope not. If enough people buy into this subscription thing and become captive, support entities like VAR’s are no longer needed. Users cant leave and so you can degrade support as an un-needed expense and replace it all with on line forums where many are growing accustomed to going for answers anyway. So for these Autodesk VAR’s like Hagerman who have had a past record of community involvement begin to back off and I can’t blame them. Now mind you all this is just common sense as I see it and I have no real knowledge of corporate decisions made in this area. But I can see results and project forward. Just like manufacturing will never employ as much as it used to even if it pumps out ten time the products because of automation. Subscription is the robot that will get rid of overhead in the software world as over time VAR’s would be relegated to far lesser importance in this world. Something that oh say Piranha hostile investor groups would like to see to enhance short term profitability. Once these things are started it will be hard to reverse even when the Piranhas have left.