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Gehry teams with IBM, Dassault for PLM push

Among several sometimes-overlooked IBM enterprise software initiatives is product life-cycle management (PLM). Big Blue buttressed its position last year with the acquisition of the EADS Matra Datavision consultancy and its growing partnership with Dassault Systemes.

Both moves have been key elements in a steady stream of announcements this year that have touted IBM's go-to-mark efforts, analysts say. The new IBM PLM offerings, in many cases, incorporate Dassault's Catia, Enovia and Smarteam PLM software technology that IBM resells as part of a partnership with the firm.

The PLM efforts took another interesting twist recently, when Frank Gehry and Gehry Technologies -- a Los Angeles-based independent company created by Gehry Partners' research group -- disclosed plans to partner with IBM and Dassault Systemes to bring PLM software to the building industry.

Vision and "visionariness" is a specialty of Frank Gehry. The architect counts a number of signature buildings as successes of using PLM, including the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, the Experience Music Project in Seattle, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.

Christine Lemyze, IBM's VP responsible for strategy and marketing, told eADT that the latest partnership is a result of Gehry Technologies' use of Catia, a design tool that is used extensively in the automotive and aerospace industries. The tool is not isolated to these industries, however, and has been used to design a variety of products, including water bottles, watches, medical instruments and cell phones, Lemyze noted.

The architectural industry has not been very cohesive in its use of PLM tools, Lemyze explained. Jim Glyph, CEO at Gehry Technologies, believes the time is right for this type of technology to take off because the building industry has experienced productivity decline over the past few years. Until now, "technology has not followed the vision," IBM's Lemyze acknowledged.

Using PLM technology -- including Catia, Enovia and Smarteam -- will give architects, engineers, contractors, fabricators and suppliers the tools and infrastructure necessary to work as a network. "These tools can help different players in the industry all work together and share the same vision," Lemyze noted. In addition, the software enables those involved to reach their objective faster and to reduce costs.

Prior to implementing this software, the various players tended to overestimate requirements of time and cost, said Lemyze. By collaborating on projects with the help of PLM software, Gehry Technologies has been able to finish projects both on time and on budget. "The Guggenheim Museum was finished exactly on budget," Lemyze pointed out.

About the Author

Lana Gates is a freelance writer based in Mesa, Arizona. She can be reached via e-mail at freelancewriter@gates-works.com.

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