How are companies adopting design and engineering solutions on the cloud?
You can also see related video interviews including: Engineering in the Cloud Conversation and Designing on the Cloud Discussion with Paul Brown, Digital Transformation Progress with Bob Jones, Cloud Progress Report with Bill Boswell and Siemens Digital Transformation Progress with Brenda Discher.
Jim: Hi, I’m Jim Brown, President of Tech-Clarity, where we make the business value of technology clear. Today, I’m joined again by Paul Brown, Senior Marketing Director at Siemens Digital Industries Software. Paul’s been very generous with his time. We’ve had a chance on this podcast to discuss design solutions moving to the cloud, things like CAD, but also a broader conversation about engineering software moving to the cloud, including things like visualization, rendering, simulation, and a little bit broader conversation about digital transformation. Now I want to really ask Paul, how do engineers adopt these solutions? How do engineers adopt these solutions? Let’s get some clarity.
Paul, welcome, always a pleasure, I appreciate you coming back onto the podcast.
Paul: It’s great to be here, Jim.
Jim: Paul, I know that you get a chance to speak with customers, and I know we’re probably in more virtual conversations today than we are in maybe face-to-face conversations, but I’d really like to understand from you what customers are asking for in terms of moving design solutions, engineering solutions to the cloud. I have to imagine that there’s a range of demand. Our research shows that some companies really favor the cloud and they are looking in a cloud-first mode. On the other hand, we’ve got companies that say that they have policies that restrict their use of the cloud, whether it’s an internal policy, a governmental regulation, or a customer policy. But most companies are really looking for functionality first and then looking for deployment after the fact and just trying to find the solution that really helps them get their job done. What are you hearing your customers ask for when it comes to engineering solutions on the cloud?
Paul: Well, Jim, it’s interesting because you say, you see the multiple different camps of opinions when we look at the cloud, but I think the people that are really looking at cloud are really looking at what can this do to add value to my business? There are always going to be, as you said, there are some people that are, for whatever reason, not going to adopt cloud. They’re military, they have systems that have air gaps, so using external cloud technologies may not help them, but in many cases, they’re looking at what they can do internally into their network to be able to do that. But then there are other customers who are looking and saying, “Okay, well, how do I leverage the cloud to give me benefits and benefits in my business?” What most designers are not prepared to do is give up functionality. So if you say, “Well, you have to use a skinnied-down system,” most engineers, both design engineers, simulation engineers, throw up their hands in horror because they get… You guarantee that they would never be prepared to give up any piece of functionality if it means… No matter what the offer is.
Because everyone gets into it, they know and love the functionality, so what we’re seeing in many companies is they’re looking for an extension, they’re looking for ways that cloud type technologies can help their businesses, whether it’s better collaboration, whether it’s easier access, whether it’s… There are niche applications, very, very specific applications that are targeted at a particular function where the person is not using the system all the time, but wants to leverage the tool. So that’s really what we’re seeing, is this mixture of desktop applications, but with the added value delivered by cloud as being a more, in many ways a more popular solution than just a wholesale, “I’m going to switch off all my desktops and move everyone to the cloud” as a norm. I think you’re seeing this transition period.
Jim: Yeah, I think that lines up very nicely, Paul, with what we’re seeing, is that companies are telling us that they’re not transitioning to the cloud for cloud’s sake. They value the benefits of the cloud, but in the end, they need to meet their targets. They’ve got innovation, quality, product performance, and time targets that they need to meet. When you think about this transition to the cloud, how does Siemens see customers making that transition? How do you envision that, and how are you supporting them through that process?
Paul: Well, I think there is a few important points about the way that we’re trying to support them through this process, and that’s giving them the access that they want. Importantly, the first thing is, we’re not trying to force them down a particular route, so we’re happy for them to go their own pace, their own way, and decide how they want to deploy this, and in many cases, it might be that they end up in this hybrid environment, this mixed environment, having software on desktop and software in cloud connecting to get the two together. Importantly, I think the underpinning of that, though, we do a lot of work to make sure that the architectures of our products work across the different environments, whether it’s cloud or desktop, so we don’t want to find… When we introduce things like Teamcenter X, it works across the entire platform of products. With NX, making sure that anything we do when we’re streaming, when we’re using cloud type technologies or desktop technologies, that the data is compatible because at the end of the day, the data is what is the customer’s intellectual property, and that’s where their value is.
We don’t want to put them in a situation where they’ve got to choose, firstly, reductions of functionality, but also things like data translation, moving data around, that is not the type of way we look at these things. We say we want to make it as easy and simple as possible to access the cloud, leverage the benefits of the cloud, but without losing your intellectual property in any way, shape, or form.
Jim: Paul, thanks, and as you’re looking forward into the future, do you think that there are certain areas that your customers will look for sooner rather than others? I know I’m asking you a little bit to leverage some of your knowledge of your customers, but also take out the Paul Brown crystal ball and try and understand your view based on your experience. What types of solutions do you see customers adopting first, or is it really just something that’s individualized and specialized to each individual customer? Are there trends?
Paul: I think for a lot of the customers that we’re talking to, they’re looking at ways that they can expand out their usage by leveraging the cloud. They’re not just looking at, okay, so I’ve got CAD on the desktop, got our design on the desktop or engineering on the desktop, and I just want to move it to the cloud because the cloud is cool or the cloud is as far as they’re looking at, okay, how can it help expand out my usage? For example, one of the key topics in the mold business for our mold customers is being able to do accurate quoting and being able to estimate such that when they put their quotes out, that they have a high degree of confidence. But that group doing that are not traditional CAD users, but imagine now if by tying together our design tools for the molding, things like our costing tools that are a part of our Teamcenter product, and delivering that over cloud on-demand when people want to use it to do their bids, to do their processes.
That’s leveraging the cloud to get a value, and it is expanding out the value of the tools and the digital twin to those customers, versus just a straight swap. And I think that that’s what we’re seeing, and I’m seeing. They are certain applications, extra applications, more extensions of what they do versus just saying, “Okay, I’m doing core modeling or I’m doing core drafting or core CIM.” It’s really, how can I get more people involved in the process, because I have got this flexibility and scalability of the cloud.
Jim: Yeah, so not just swapping out what they could do before for a different architecture stack, but really trying to do more and extend value. I think that’s a great message. Paul, thank you so much for joining me. I look forward to the days where we can have these conversations in person again, perhaps in a cocktail setting, at a user conference. But for now, I really appreciate the ability to have these conversations virtually. Thank you a lot.
Paul: Absolutely. Thanks, Jim.