Siemens software's approach to digital transformation
Siemens Xcelerator offers a curated, modular portfolio of software and IOT-enabled hardware solutions and services built on standard application programming interfaces to help organisations transition through digital transformation.
It delivers an open ecosystem that enables co-creation between customers, Siemens, and certified partners, ranging from the largest tech companies to independent software developers. The software provides a marketplace that includes partner solutions designed to help users overcome the challenges of digital transformation across a wider variety of industry engineering market segments.
Can you tell our readers about yourself and Siemens Xcelerator?
My background was in engineering and manufacturing. I've worked on many accounts, through the Siemens business, including pretty much all the Formula 1 teams in the UK, Rolls Royce, JCB and Red Bull. For the past 10 years, I've been working in technical sales – and I think having that background in product and customer understanding is important – as well as the relationships and the insight you get from the segments and the product owners internally. For the past three years, I've been a UK Sales Director, currently responsible for automotive and transportation, industrial machinery and heavy equipment.
A core part of the wider Siemens Xcelerator platform is our portfolio of industry software, it’s fundamental to our open business platform.
We are all about adding value at every layer of the organisation. It's about helping an organisation to understand where they are, where they need to be, the steps to get there and, of course, learning how Siemens can enable them achieve their goals with Siemens Xcelerator . It is a combination of software to solve challenges around the product, the production, or how products are used in the real world. It's an opportunity for customers to find new business models, where they might have developed something they can repurpose and resell to other people through the marketplace. It's just a very open, agile way for customers to realise their true digital potential.
We can create a digital twin of the product, a digital twin of production and the digital twin of performance. The product aspect is focused on how do we help customers through that ideation period of coming up with a design? In this instance, it's around the chemistry; it's around the materials and all that kind of stuff. Next, is how do we produce that in a way that makes sense from both sustainability, environmental production, the supply chain and all that kind of stuff? Then, we have the concept of how those are actually used; what's the performance of them and how do we look at things such as end-of-life and recycling?
Does this mean the software is applicable to organisations in any engineering market?
We work with a whole host of organisations – some very mature, massive global organisations, but also with start-ups and scale-up organisations. We have parts of our offering that are geared up to work with very small- to medium-size businesses, all of which can go through the same challenges.
There are still a large number of organisations that still try to innovate by creating very complicated Visual Basic (VB) scripts; we've got customers that still are trying to leverage things such as Lotus Notes to create in-house platforms, which is just not scalable. I like to think of the concept of technical debt. In essence, if you are investing your organisation's time and effort into developing homegrown platforms that aren't your business's core, you might be creating a solution for that problem, but what you're actually creating is technical debt within the organisation. Because of this, as time goes on your resource capacity completely drops away, because what you've got is your technical debt increasing. As an organisation, you're spending your time maintaining these tools, these processes and these things you've created in-house, through either Excel or paper-based processes – whatever it might be – and it stops your business from transforming doing that.
What Siemens is trying to do is combine things such as the software, the ecosystem, and the partners through the Siemens Xcelerator ecosystem. You can ask questions such as ‘where's the real value in this?’ Rather than starting with a piece of technology, I always start with the business outcome and questions such as ‘what's the value of that?’ or ‘How do you achieve it?’ It doesn't matter what the industry – you work out where the pain points are and where the inefficiencies are, and focus on that.
How does your openness message play into this?
What we stand for is this agile and open architecture. For me, that's the most important thing around Siemens Xcelerator; in essence, allowing people to realise digital transformation and how they change as an organisation.
The fundamentals are openness; the ability to interoperate and that transitions across all industries. Siemens allows access to APIs, and all the bits of information that allow our software to be very open and be part of business transformation. We try not to put up barriers. I know other companies have strategies to push customers down their portfolio technology, but, in contrast, we're very open. I suppose it's naive to think that one company can resolve everything.
What impact does this software have for engineers?
We are working with companies that might be manufacturing simpler products or piece part components and they've had little to no exposure to the power of true digital transformation in the past. As a result, they're going from only a little understanding and we work with them to help them take advantage of our software tools, scale up their operations and make it work. We try to speak in the customer's language and not try to boil the ocean from the outset.
The idea is that we build a roadmap with a customer – where they have clear understanding and visibility of not just what the value is, but how we're going to measure it and how we're going to make sure we deliver the adoption of that technology to meet that requirement from the customer - then it becomes easier to get your head around.
A lack of experience of digital transformation should not be a Barrier to adoption – we work with our customers to help them explore it, the benefits and get them up and running on their terms and to meet their goal.
We, as an organisation, are geared up to work with all customers at all different levels to make sure we and they have a plan together of how we're going to get from the first step and then move them all the way through their digital transformation and beyond.
From a scientific research perspective, I think there are so many areas that we are working on with organisations globally – whether it's things such as the Mars Rover and product satellites; whether it's around communication or different methods of energy storage.
We are an engineering company that has acquired and developed a full portfolio of software capabilities that we deliver through the Siemens Xcelerator portfolio and it is enabling businesses of all descriptions and in many different sectors, from traditional engineering markets to life sciences to be more effective, innovative and meet their organisational goals. We enable them to achieve the transformation and to have not just the tools and the technology available but also the implementation methods, the partnerships and insight into what their peers are doing both in their industry sectors, but also learning from external sources, sharing best practices and methods.
Ed Hayes is the UK Sales Director for Siemens Digital Industries Software