Dassault Systèmes has acquired Netvibes, one of the earliest tools that allowed brands to create unified social dashboards to track their social media identity. Netvibes is well known in enterprise circles, but does the purchase make sense for the French software giant primarily known for its 3D computer aided design and project lifecycle management software?

Managing Social Identity Before It Was Cool

You might not have heard of Netvibes, but the company, which started as a personal RSS feed service, has existed since 2005 -- ripe old age in Internet years. The social web quickly evolved from a place where all conversation was personal and landing pages were cutting edge. Netvibes changed with it. The company modified its management and several times, eventually becoming a popular, and more importantly, profitable enterprise social web analytics platform. Several Fortune 500 companies and agencies like Coca Cola, HP, L’Oreal and McCann Worldgroup use Netvibes to connect their enterprise systems to real-time web data sources to track trends, news and social sentiments.

Netvibes technology is useful and can help organizations make more informed decisions, but how is it related to Dassault Systèmes core competencies? Yes. Dassault Systèmes’ is embracing the concept that everything is social -- creating new products, managing supply chains, etc. In my opinion, there are three directions the Netvibes and Dassault Systèmes merger may take:

  • Completely new and independent division -- Dassault Systèmes could want to expand to a new market and saw Netvibes as a well-positioned company that would favorably add to its portfolio. This is the least likely of the scenarios since Dassault Systèmes has already began articulating its vision of “connecting everything” for better decision making.
  • Integrate Netvibes as is into project lifecycle management software -- This may be a reasonable direction since news, sentiments and other information could help project leadership make more informed decisions about scheduling, features and upcoming risks. Organizations that are able to respond to these signals quickly could gain significant competitive advantage.
  • Integrate components of Netvibes dashboard technology into products -- Dassault Systèmes to leave Netvibes intact and leverage the technology and concepts in other products to provide a similar action oriented dashboard experience.

In their announcement of the acquisition, Dassault Systèmes explained that their systems help companies experience the world from parts to products, from individual workers to supply chain and distribution, from designing to experiencing usage scenarios. Netvibes specializes in understanding the Web in new ways, to reveal customer sentiment, brand identity and emerging influencers. Together, Netvibes contributes to Dassault Systèmes’ vision to Experience Everything in the world and on the Web. Of course this vision is a superlative, but it has some validity. Organizations that want to optimize their competitiveness must learn to better integrate social intelligence and respond quickly.

What’s Next

According to reports from both companies, there are unlikely to be big changes at Netvibes. Most of Netvibes development staff is already located in France and CEO Freddy Mini splits his time between the US and French offices. Mini said,

If you like Netvibes, you will love the new Netvibes. Our brand, business, website and team will stay. What will change is that all our products will innovate even faster thanks to our deep relationship with Dassault Systèmes.”

It will be interesting to observe how the two seemingly different companies combine. The Dassault Systèmes’ and Netvibes merger is likely only one of many unexpected social integrations that we will see in the near future.