How has digital transformation progressed for Siemens’ customers and how are they leveraging Siemens’ cloud technologies to fuel their digital initiatives? How have Siemens’ customers with a digital mindset faired differently than others during the COVID-19 disruption? Tech-Clarity’s Jim Brown got together (virtually) with Siemens Digital Industries Software EVP Bob Jones to share perspectives and case studies.
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JIM: Hi, I’m Jim Brown, president of Tech Clarity, where we make the business value of technology clear. Today, I’m checking back in with Bob Jones, Senior Vice President at Siemens Digital Industries Software. I spoke with Bob a little over a year ago to gain a customer’s perspective on how Siemens is helping their customers move to the cloud. And we’re going to check back in to really understand how has the digital transformation of Siemens’ customers progressed and how are they leveraging Siemens’ technologies in the cloud to really fuel their digital transformation. How’s that been going? Let’s get some clarity.
JIM: Bob, thank you for joining me again today. Unfortunately, we’re doing this remotely … trying to keep everybody safe because of COVID. And in fact, due to some additional challenges in being distanced we’re doing this audio only instead of video. But it’s always great to get in touch with you and to really understand what you’re experiencing. So thanks for joining today.
BOB: Glad to be able to join you Jim. Thank you.
JIM: I know you speak a lot with your clients, not just about technology, but about their business strategies and what they’re really trying to accomplish. But a lot has change for both Siemens and for your customers since we last talked more than a year ago. Then obviously, things have changed even more dramatically over the last few months due to the global pandemic. Maybe you can give us a little bit of an idea of what have company’s been asking for? How has that changed as they’ve gotten more mature with digitalization and moving to the cloud, but also because of COVID?
BOB: Thank you, Jim. You mentioned already COVID has been a great impact, a significant impact on our customers, it’s really definitely accelerated their move to digitalization. And I guess what I would tell you is what we’ve learned from customers in the last 12 to 18 months is that it’s not just about this concept of digital transformation. What we’ve seen from our customers is those that have had this digital mindset, which really means that they are the pioneers, they are the ones that are willing to drive digitalization throughout their organization and really look at how they can leverage cloud to improve their overall innovation process, those customers have really achieved some incredible success. And I would go as far as to say is that those customers with the digital mindset, they’ve actually been able to transition or make that transition to a remote working environment or work from home as a result of COVID much more seamlessly than those customers or companies that did not have that digital mindset.
BOB: And in fact, I would argue that the ones that didn’t have a digital mindset, they’ve quite honestly been exposed as a result of COVID and they’ve struggled because of that. And when I think about the impact of COVID, I think that it’s also very evident when we think about our customers in the SMB space, because they have the same need to leverage better collaboration and capabilities that’s enabled to the cloud, but what they don’t have is the personnel or the financial resources to make that jump as fast as some of the larger companies could. And I think an example of a SMB that had that digital mindset and thrived because of it, is Rurok Industries. Now, Rurok is a small mountain bike manufacturer, they’re a startup, but ironically, even though they’re a startup, they still have a global footprint because they have design centers here in the US, in Las Vegas, they have a design center in the Philippines, they’re manufacturing over in Taiwan, and they have customers essentially throughout the world.
BOB: So Rurok is a classic problem of a startup trying to thrive in this global economy while dealing with the challenges of COVID. Now, Rurok had recently selected Solid Edge and deployed Solid Edge as their overall global design system, but because of COVID, they now faced a new challenge and that they needed to be able to remain competitive and create and design these next generation mountain bikes while protecting all their employees through travel restrictions and isolation guidelines. And what Rurok… They benefited from this, is they leveraged our Teamcenter Share technology, they were actually a pilot customer of Teamcenter Share, and it gave them instant capability to enable design collaboration around the globe and allow them to continue to compete and drive down their overall innovation life cycle to produce next generation mountain bikes. In fact, their CEO, PJ Tolentino and his team have a great video summary of how they’re leveraging Teamcenter and Solid Edge in the cloud to drive this collaboration and able to even leverage advanced capabilities such as augmented reality to support their design collaboration process.
BOB: If I think further beyond COVID, I’d also say that something new we’re hearing from customers, I would classify as “instant-on.” What this means is, yes, our customers want all the benefits associated to the cloud; lower cost, improved collaboration, and agility. But they’re also saying it’s not enough just to have that technology generically, they need technology delivered to them that enables the best practices within their industries so they can have an immediate impact on their overall productivity. And that essentially is one of the driving forces behind what we recently launched called Teamcenter X. It’s a cloud-based, instant capability for PLM that leverages all the robustness of Teamcenter. But more importantly, we pre-configured it with some best practices around design, collaboration, document management, raw material management, change requirements, and other capabilities that our customers need to drive their innovation process. And I would summarize it to say, think of Rapid Start, Teamcenter Rapid Start with all the benefits of the cloud.
BOB: And lastly, I’d say it’s not enough to give our customers that instant-on access to industry best practices, but also be able to understand through telemetry, what some best practices are within their own organization, and then allow that to be somewhat codified so that new users can immediately adopt the best practices of the industry as well as best practices within their own organization. And then lastly, I would also say that – something we continue to hear that’s more consistent with what we’ve heard previously – is this concept of flexibility. That is what we refer to as “your way, your pace.” Our customers continue to tell us that they need to move to the cloud, they need to move the digitalization, but they need the ability to be flexible in how they do that. Whether it’s the leverage their existing infrastructure, but purchase our software in a different mode, or whether they need to manage services capability, or whether they want to go to a full SaaS technology model as well as SaaS business model. So it’s this concept that’s given them the flexibility to leverage their existing investments, their existing best practices, while adopting the cloud to drive the benefit in the area that it’s most needed.
JIM: Great. Thanks, Bob. It’s interesting, our research is also showing some indications that companies are accelerating their digital transformation based on the impact of COVID. And it’s certainly a way that companies are looking to survive and maybe even leapfrog a little bit.
JIM: Your role spans really from early conversations with potential customers through some of the longer-term relationships you’ve had with existing customers and understanding how they gain value from your solutions. Digitalization is such a broad concept. As companies digitally transform, it could be anything from streamlining a design workflow to developing a robust digital twin with the connectivity to actuals – the sensors on the twin itself – and bringing in enterprise information to make improvements in the plant or service. So there’s just so many different kinds of initiatives that companies can take. What are you seeing as some of the things that your customers have achieved through digital transformation and the use of the cloud?
BOB: Thank you, Jim. That’s an excellent question. I guess there’s two or three examples that come immediately to mind. And I’ll start with a company that most people probably don’t associate with PLM, and that’s Land O’Lakes. Now, interestingly enough, Land O’Lakes is a very well-known company, mostly here in the US, and they are celebrating their 100-year anniversary next year. And Land O’Lakes, I think, faces the same challenge that I see across every industry. That is that they have a backlog of demand on their IT organization. They have more IT projects than they can effectively deliver in a reasonable time. So, Land O’Lakes took a decision that they did not want to outsource this because they recognized this was a critical differentiator for them. Rather they wanted to bring that innovation back in house.
BOB: So what Land O’Lakes decided to do was partner with us to leverage our Mendix technology, our cloud native low-code application development platform. They wanted to leverage that not just so their own IT professionals could code the capabilities that their business users needed, but rather so that IT could orchestrate innovation across their business, across their ecosystem. So today, Land O’Lakes is using Mendix to drive and enable very personalized online portals that support over 350,000 farmers, distributors, retailers, and wholesalers. And they’re doing this in a way that helps them achieve their goals for overall sustainability but more importantly to drive a much more effective supply chain.
BOB: Now, I use that example because I think it also points out something that is a trend that we see emerging and we believe will become very relevant in the future, and that is that the employees of our customers are no longer just consumers of our technology. The employees of our customers are increasingly moving to be the shapers and even the developers of our technology and tailoring it to the specific needs of their company. And I think that’s an important trait that’s going to ultimately reshape our industry in many ways. That’s one example.
BOB: A second example is a company called Vyaire, they’re a medical device company. What’s interesting about them is they were recently spun out of a much larger organization, but as part of their spin-out they needed to build from scratch their overall PLM environment. So they partnered with us, leveraging Teamcenter and leveraging our cloud delivery of Teamcenter, so that essentially they are able to deploy a PLM solution across their enterprise, drive adoption and enablement in their users, and reach a level of productivity all within three months. That’s, I think, an excellent example of what the cloud can provide in terms of agility and speed to enterprises of all size.
BOB: And then the last example that I can think of is from the aerospace industry. Now, unfortunately, I don’t have permission yet to share this particular company’s name, but it’s a great example of how they’ve had to leverage a broad portfolio of simulation design and data management collaboration and do that leveraging the cloud so that they can still drive this collaboration while everybody works remotely.
BOB: Now, this particular company is designing an electric aircraft for general aviation, and they identified a serious problem during some of their virtual prove-outs, and that they needed to improve the overall ingress, the access for a pilot to get into the cockpit. And ultimately that meant they needed to stretch that aircraft a few inches to meet the regulations for ingress. Now, if we think about the impact that has to an overall aircraft in terms of its performance characteristics, of its aerodynamics, and the amount of design and simulation and analysis whether they’d be for static loads, overall performance, fuel consumption, it’s quite a large task.
BOB: Now this company, because they’re able to continue to design and collaborate and do all this while working remotely, completed that entire design change and validation of that design change in just seven days. I think that’s a tremendous example of what customers can accomplish by leveraging both the integrated portfolio of capabilities across their innovation lifecycle, and also leveraging the cloud that enables them to do that, whether it’s to work from home or whether it’s to enable overall global collaboration.
JIM: Yeah, I know. We talked before about how companies would really be changing the way they’re working, and certainly companies have changed things pretty dramatically. Those are great examples, Bob. I really appreciate it.
Thank you for joining me today. It’s always a pleasure. I really enjoy sharing with your experiences and what you’re seeing your customers be able to do with your technologies and with your services. So thank you so much for joining, and please stay well.
BOB: Yeah, and Jim, thank you for the opportunity to share some of these examples with you and your listeners.