This week, over 5,500 people converged on San Diego for the largest MCAD conference in the world: SolidWorks World.
With around 1.7 million people using SolidWorks, it would be surprising if SolidWorks World wasn’t a large conference. Yet, the secret to its success is not just mere user count. It’s community building.
SolidWorks, the company, has for many years focused on building communities of interest among its customers. It does this more effectively, and more thoughtfully, than any of its competitors.
Consider user groups: SolidWorks provides model bylaws, funding, gifts, guest speakers, and just about any useful thing you could think of to help people start and run user groups. One need only visit www.swugn.org to see the level of support provided by the company. Richard Doyle, who runs SWUGN, even won the 2009 CAD Society Joe Greco Community Award.
Here’s a hint of how much value SolidWorks management places in their user groups: At the SolidWorks World SWUGN meeting, I watched both Jeff Ray and Bertrand Sicot (former and current CEOs of SolidWorks) taking audience questions, and answering them with complete candor. No filtering or blustering.
SolidWorks also spends a lot of effort on building its community of certified users. At SolidWorks world, you can tell the serious users by the CSWP (Certified SolidWorks Professional) ribbons they were wearing. And you can tell the really elite users by their CSWE (Certified SolidWorks Expert) ribbons. At this conference, SolidWorks hosted a reception for over 500 CSWP/CSWE users on the USS Midway aircraft carrier museum.
At SolidWorks World, there were also focused programs and events for resellers, educators, members of the press, tweeters, and even users from different geographic areas.
My sense is that one of SolidWorks’ biggest competitive advantages has been its focus on building and supporting communities of interest.
Dassault Systemes SolidWorks
SolidWorks User Group Network
Photo courtesy Oleg Shilovitsky