Company NewsSeptember 14, 2022

What is Outcome-Based Engagement? (OBE)

OBE changes software from a product to a service – an ownership model known as Software as a Service (SaaS).
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Bernadette Hearne
Bernadette Hearne is a senior editor of Dassault Systemes' thought-leadership magazine, Compass. She loves transforming jumbled words and concepts into clear, compelling stories that inform, educate and inspire.

If you’ve ever gone to a restaurant because you didn’t have time to plan a menu, buy the ingredients, prepare, cook, serve and clean up after, you’ve done for nourishment what Outcome-Based Engagement (OBE) does for software: achieve an important goal with minimal effort in record time.

Just as dining out transforms feeding your family from a do-it-yourself chore into a service, OBE changes software from a product to a service – an ownership model known as Software as a Service (SaaS). Like that restaurant dinner, SaaS shifts the burden of implementing and using software from the company that buys software to the company that creates software. The benefits of OBE? OBE cuts the time required to achieve the return on investment from a software purchase from a year or more to just a few weeks or months.

In today’s hyper-speed, hyper-competitive marketplace, quick time to market is a company’s biggest advantage. Which makes OBE’s ability to deliver quick-turn SaaS results into a must-have capability. In fact, OBE promises to become the hottest new strategy for achieving market agility.

How did OBE get started?

From the dawn of computing, corporations preferred to have their own staff members implement new IT projects. Their reasons were logical: in-house staff knew the company’s computing environment, its business objectives, its way of working and its data structures better than an outsider could. To get the most bang for the corporate buck, doing IT work in-house made sense.

About 20 years ago, however, corporate executives realized that they could outsource their hardware responsibility to outside experts, freeing internal staff to focus on more strategic projects. Today, IT Managed Services, also known as Hardware as a Service (HaaS) – is a well-established practice.

Software implementations, however, tended to remain an in-house task. The software that a corporation chose to buy, and how it implemented that software, could profoundly affect a company’s results. Implementing software also required intimate knowledge of a company’s unique work processes and proprietary data. Exposing that intellectual property to an outsider seemed unthinkable.

Cloud computing paves the way for OBE

Cloud computing changed those parameters, planting the seeds of Software as a Service (SaaS) and OBE.

The flexibility of cloud computing, plus the proven security measures of major cloud providers, convinced business executives to host their companies’ most precious data in massive server farms shared by thousands of companies. In exchange for the benefits of cloud, however, cloud providers need their customers to implement software in more standardized ways. Customized software implementations became impossible, and SaaS became the rule.

SaaS on the cloud created advantages for large corporations, but it also gave startups access to the same computing power once limited to deep-pocketed corporations. The speed of market change shifted to hyper-drive, shrinking the time available to get a new product to market from years to months. OBE – the concept of letting the software vendor deliver not just the software itself, but also its value – is now emerging as the new competitive advantage, accelerating the competitive payoff from software investments.

OBE at Dassault Systèmes

At Dassault Systèmes, which creates software that companies use to model and simulate their products and operating environments, OBE focuses primarily on creating virtual twin experiences.

“Virtual twins are the ultimate value of the 3DEXPERIENCE platform,” said Michel Tellier, the company’s vice president of Outcome-Based Engagement. “They’re the customer’s data visualized in the context of the customer’s business, so having a twin and being able to run simulations on it is immensely valuable.”

Developing a virtual twin as an OBE directly addresses the time-to-benefit issue driving today’s markets.

“The speedometer of what’s tolerable for companies has been massively compressed,” Tellier said. “Virtual twins save companies so much time and money and make their operations so much more sustainable, that they’re one of the best ways to achieve speed and value.”

But building virtual twins isn’t the core competence of most companies.

“Becoming proficient in creating virtual twins can take years,” Tellier said. “But building virtual twins is a core competence for Dassault Systèmes. We have methodologies, expertise and tools that greatly accelerate the process, so it’s perfect for the ‘buy it, don’t make it’ OBE model. We can deliver the results in weeks, not years, and that delivers a major competitive benefit to our customers.”

What are the advantages of OBE?

Tellier’s team has modeled everything from products to factories to concert halls for the company’s OBE customers. Once the models have been delivered, he said, the OBE team can then help customers gain more value from their virtual twins by adding “run” and “improve” services. These services “run” different industrial scenarios on the twins, then use the learnings from those scenarios to improve the twin. The improve phase also includes maintaining and updating the twin as needed, completing the “deliver-run-improve” model of OBE.

“When we modeled the concert hall, for example, they wanted to understand how air moved in the facility, to minimize the potential for COVID transmission,” Tellier said. “Now that the model exists, we can run additional simulations on it. In this case, ‘run’ can help the venue plan renovations, run acoustic studies, conduct virtual tests of evacuation procedures and discover how to operate the building more sustainably and efficiently.”

The “optimize” phase, meanwhile, feeds operational data back into the model to improve its accuracy and further refine its predictions. For example, acoustic-testing data collected after a renovation, when added to the model, could be used to identify additional sound improvements.

Customers that have modeled their factories to plan equipment upgrades, meanwhile, are using their twins to test manufacturing efficiency, plan upgrades to communication networks and study worker safety and ergonomics. Virtual twins of electric-vehicle batteries, meanwhile, help manufacturers improve battery range, optimize manufacturing and work with customers to integrate the batteries into their vehicles.

“Virtual twins are the key to faster time to market,” Tellier said. “OBE is the key to creating virtual twins quickly and efficiently, while our ‘run’ and ‘improve’ models increase the value a customer derives from each twin. In time, customers may develop the skills internally to take on the ‘run’ and ‘improve’ phases. They may even become adept at creating virtual twins. But OBE is always here to help them get the most from their twins.”

Discover more about OBE


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