Dassault Systèmes is partnered by IBM in distributing its PLM suite of software around the world. Marty Phillips, IBM partner, aerospace and defence industry, says the suite helps design offices to focus on their product strategy as much as it helps in the technicalities of managing the design itself. "By looking at the full product lifecycle, designers are forced to evaluate their products' end-to-end performance," he says. "Usually, there are no poor strategies, just poorly executed strategies," he adds.

IBM also functions as a strategy consultant to the aerospace industry. Phillips says the company's aerospace consulting business has grown 300% in recent years. He adds that the industry turns to companies like IBM in lean times, such as the current downturn, as they struggle to trim business costs. "Companies can adjust better in a downturn: there's more incentive, and right now [eventual] winners have about two years to figure out what they want to be, otherwise they'll be left behind," he says.

"We want design offices, especially first- and second-tier suppliers, to function more as equipment integrators and testers rather than designers," he says. "They need to share risk with suppliers, even if it's an informal partnership."

IBM's aerospace business has a turnover of about $1.5 billion, around 2% of the company's total turnover.

Source: Flight International