Siemens PLM – Progress Report 2011


My final thoughts from the Siemens PLM analyst day are focused on the state of Siemens PLM in 2011. Maybe a bit too ambitious, but I wanted to add some more perspective on Siemens after posting on my PLM market takeaways and the great PLM customer case studies presented at the meeting. Even as I start I will share my first observation: Siemens PLM has such a broad set of offerings that I don’t know where to start. So as usual, I will just dive in.

  • Note: For the market progress report, see the first post in this series where Chuck talks about some impressive financial results.
  • Note 2: Yes, that has got to be the most ridiculous picture I have posted on this blog (or anywhere) – my apologies to all (especially Eric)


The theme of the conference as “Smarter Decisions, Better Products.” This follows on from a strong statement by GM at PLM Connection saying they viewed developing a car as making a series of thousands of decisions. It is a pretty interesting way to look at the job of developing a product. Of course it only gets interesting when you couple that with the question – “what can PLM do to help companies make the right decisions as they develop products, and make they efficiently?” The short answer is a lot, and Siemens is starting to frame a lot of their product investment and development decisions around this question. How can they help individuals make decision large and small, and how does that aggregate to big advantages for the enterprise. The way Siemens says they will do this is by:

  • Making the right information available and easy to retrieve at the right time (to support the decision)
  • Put information in the context of the role the user is playing, and the product they are working on

How important is this vision? Siemens PLM President Chuck Grindstaff said “every piece of software we write is part of a decision making toolset.” Some see this statement as profound and others as obvious – maybe that is good sign. Things that work are usually obvious once stated. What I can say is that Siemens is paying attention to this concept in what they are doing (which leads me to the next topic, I am sure you are happy to know).

My Take on Siemens PLM’s Progress

Again, where should I start? There are some great innovations in Teamcenter, NX, Solid Edge and Tecnomatix. There isn’t enough room to share all of the details about those, but suffice it to say that Siemens has been very busy in the incremental innovation arena and is moving their products forward.

So let’s talk about major, strategic initiatives. Here are a some that struck me as important:

  • HD-PLM – This is where “smarter decisions” becomes real. The most tangible progress here is with Active Work Space (AWS). Active Work Space is a central solution for Siemens PLM that aims to bring all of the information, tools, and product context together in one place for a user. This holistic view of the product is intended to serve as the central location that decision makers access product information and the tools to create and share it. One of the key points Siemens makes is that this should put all of the tools Chuck talks about above in the context of the product and the decisions being made. At a minimum, it simplifies the view into the products for a user and provides a fresh interface to the PLM solution suite. Over time, this has the potential to develop into much more (I will share more of that as plans are made public).
  • Systems Engineering – Still with me? Another key theme that surfaced throughout the conference was systems engineering and developing mechatronic products. This is clearly a big focus for Siemens PLM. Siemens described how Siemens PLM solutions “support the full lifecycle of a mechatronic product,” including a detailed session sharing some of the tools that Siemens offers. There is no one solution in the suite that addresses systems engineering it its entirety, of course, but rather a mapping of tools (including the new Teamcenter Mechatronics Concept Designer) into how they support the process. More to come here, I am sure.
  • PLM-MES Integration – Following the acquisition by Siemens, UGS (now Siemens PLM) had a very interesting opportunity to close the gaps between PLM and MES. The two organizations in Siemens are closer than ever, and two different customer presentations discussed the integration. Most notably was Rolls Royce, who arguably has taken PLM-MES integration further than any other company I know. The short story here is that this is progressing from a Siemens’ capability perspective, and there are some interesting examples of companies that are taking advantage of it.
  • Social Innovation – OK, this one was noticeable because it didn’t take center stage. What happened to social computing in PLM? What is the priority? I know this hasn’t gone away, but it wasn’t front of mind either. I still believe that social computing techniques will continue to pop up in PLM, but it appears that it will show up incrementally for Siemens PLM (by extending existing products) rather than becoming it’s own initiative. Given the difference between the interest in the market (high) and the adoption rate (low), this seems like a pragmatic approach.

There was obviously a lot more discussed, but these are some of my key takeaways. What do you think? Did I miss anything? Did I misinterpret anything? Do you have a different perspective? Please share.