IBM Genius of Things summit 2017 – The Internet of Things (IoT) moves beyond (any supposed) peak of inflated expectations.

For many of us engaged in the world of Internet of Things (IoT), anyone suggesting that the IoT paradigm is merely a passing fashion might be considered at best ill-informed***. Proof, if I can call it that, are the many, many practical use cases that IoT and it’s sister acronym, the Industrial IoT (IIoT) (and Industry 4.0) have in the market today. Indeed (if any more were needed), the many customer stories presented at IBM’s foremost customer IoT event, the IBM Genius of Things (IBMGoT) on February 18th in Munich, Germany only serve to re-confirm my sentiments; IoT is here, it’s practical and it’s valuable. Continue reading

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Siemens PLM Analyst event 2016 – A focus on making customers successful

Two and a half days of PowerPoint presentations (one session being 3 hours long), videos, demonstrations and numerous conversations with executives of one of the engineering software’s largest companies, Siemens (PLM). That’s a lot of information to process! Continue reading

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Hannover Messe 2016: Digitalisation, Industrie 4.0, IoT and all things manufacturing

I’ve just returned from Hannover (Germany) having spent two days at the world’s largest industrial fair. For those unacquainted with Hannover Messe, this is a mammoth fair (trade show) with over 5,200 exhibitors. These aren’t just German companies. According to the organisers’ press release, overseas accounted for about 58% of the exhibitors. 465 of these from the US, this year’s partner country, and (not surprisingly?) about 650 from China. Continue reading

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Siemens PLM Software – A digital ‘engine’ provider for Industry 4.0

Siemens PLM Software’s analyst event last month provided much food for thought. First off, Siemens showed a new dimension to their messaging. One that’s simpler and more focused on customer outcomes. Second, they provided a vision and many of the pieces that deliver ‘Industry 4.0’ as (to a large extent) a practical proposition.

For those that’re unaware of Industry 4.0, it’s a German Government sponsored initiative, supported by companies such as Siemens, Bosch and SAP. It focuses on a vision of industry focusing on the digitisation of design, factories and (customer and supplier) networks around Cyber-Physical Systems, the Internet of Things and the Internet of Services.

Chuck Grindstaff, Siemens PLM’s CEO and President rightly pointed out that today’s innovation ecosystem is relentless. Products are getting smarter and more complex; definitely true when considering the trend to more software (and electronics) driven product content. To this Siemens wants to be the be the company that helps customers deal with the contradictory drivers of product/ecosystem complexity and business velocity/agility. They aim to do this by providing a broad swathe of solutions that allow companies to design, make and support their products. A world where ‘digital twining’ (such as in areas of design and manufacturing) is as close to reality as possible so that Siemens’s digitally-led proposition to customers is both practical and (clearly) valuable.

Achieving the vision (of Industry 4.0) might be considered quite an objective from any one vendor, but in Siemens PLM’s case we have to remember that they’re supported by the technologies and know-how of the greater Siemens. Having said this, there some provisos; not least amongst these that the PLM division continues to show support for ‘open’ technologies and encourage and grow third party ecosystems.

Back to the conference. Much of the content was focused on providing press and analysts with updates on Siemens PLM’s ‘Smart Innovation Portfolio’, with some excellent customer presentations including one from Dell on their use of big data and analytics in the area of customer service.

Siemens PLM’s product messaging is one of a ‘Smart Innovation Portfolio’. This integrates ‘Engaged users’ (collaboration and intelligent app environments etc.), ‘Intelligent models’ (cyber-physical systems/digital twins etc.), ‘Realized Products’ (automation/manufacturing/planning etc.) and ‘Adaptive systems’ (data driven decision making etc.). While there’s much to comment on I was intrigued by new offerings made possible by their acquisition of Camstar, and so too their new mobile app Catchbook.

Camstar’s suite of tools allow Siemens to expand their available markets beyond traditional domains (well beyond that of MES) to areas of customer service (and by extension IoT), big data and analytics. Their first consumer-friendly (sketching) mobile app Catchbook allows Siemens to expand their reach not only to new customers but also to consumers, mindful of the (sketching) needs of new/next generation users.

Siemens have already made public their interest in transitioning their large platforms (Teamcenter for example) to more ‘app-like’ forms, and to date they’ve done a good job so far in simplifying (and beautifying) their offerings. But the next generation (Y) is (rightly in my eyes) critical on the complexity of monolithic software products and Catchbook is an interesting take on Siemens’ capacity to react to these objections. Transforming to ‘apps’ (and born-on-the-Cloud/subscription based) might be considered by many as primarily a technological exercise; but I’d suggest that it’s as much, if not more so a challenge to (Siemens’) existing pricing, business and sales models.

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The evolving PLM landscape – Major seismic event or minor volcanic rumblings?

Now that the Dassault Systèmes assimilation of IBM PLM is complete we’ll have the opportunity to track the momentum of the new operation; announced last year, the realignment of sales strategy offers new opportunity, and of course, new challenges. As mentioned in a previous article, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. Talking (or writing ) of the changing nature of major PLM vendors, Siemens (PLM Software) recently announced their unified sales strategy, consolidating Product Lifecycle, Manufacturing Execution and Plant Lifecycle sales operations into a single entity, Siemens Industry Software. In the same release, Siemens announced an emerging sales relationship with HP. For those following major players in the PLM market this is indeed interesting news, especially in light of the major changes to Dassault Systèmes sales network.

(Not to be left out of recent news), Autodesk’s recent new product announcements seemed to catch the imagination of many, delivering more integrated workflows for styling, design and engineering disciplines and one can imagine treading on the larger foot(print) of the integrated solution vendors. In fact, with an intensifying focus on major accounts and increasing direct sales presence competition in the larger accounts is certain to hot up. PTC, albeit somewhat more restrained in product announcement, merger and acquisition fronts is making sure we don’t forget them by delivering sound growth in a number of key business areas, specifically in product sales for Windchill with noted increase in larger deal PLM activities. Recent moves to re-energise their channel offer an opportunity to reclaim some lost ground to companies such as SolidWorks, (if image, product and channel perform), but they too have made moves to capitalise on the growing opportunity in major accounts with an intent to increase direct sales headcount by over 10%.

Having had time to ponder over the new situations during an unexpected sojourn in ash-free US, what’s clear is that there’s a significant, and I believe, positive change happening in the evolution of the major players in the engineering solutions space. Most notably in creating, and demonstrating clearly differentiating positioning– more than just ‘words’ and ‘marketing hype’ and something that is of greater intrinsic value to the customer.

We’d heard (from Siemens) many years ago that project ‘Archimedes’ would result in closer links between design, engineering (and PLM) and the shop floor. Indeed with the Siemens acquisition of Innotec (the COMOS product suite) I imagined that the values brought to bear from the new entity would result in increased focus and PLM extension into the process and plant realm. But until recently, there’ve been few visible signs of integration, not just in product but also in the presentation of the new Siemens value set to the open market. No doubt this is in part due to complexities of technology integration but perhaps too the relationships between somewhat disparate internal PLM, MES and Plant (COMOS) interest groups. I would argue that with Siemens’ recent announcements all of that has changed. Not only have they been able to demonstrate integrated elements of their solution set covering a broad range of business disciplines, as demonstrated at the Hannover fair, probably more telling is their announcement of a single integrated sales strategy to deliver this to market.

The new Siemens sales model will undoubtedly resonate with many, specifically mid to large manufacturers, but the often unique requirements of different industries coupled with the complexities of global (sales, manufacturing and supply)  networks, and let’s not forget the differing needs of small vs. larger companies, requires multiple views and different entry points. One size doesn’t necessarily fit all. To that end, product mix, relationships with a broader set of channels, collaborations with point solution providers and relationships with global players such as KPMG, Accenture, Microsoft, HP and IBM et. al. are all vital to the mix. Arguably the scale and influence of the greater Siemens make them well positioned to pull this off.

It’s somehow reassuring to note that that technology dynamics in areas such as collaboration, social computing (and networking) and cloud based infrastructures means that more change is likely. Not just in product, but also in areas such including channel and customer value engineering. I for one believe that change is good – for customers and suppliers alike….and let’s not forget that challenges from the left field will undoubtedly continue to surprise us. Who’d have thought that a volcano in Iceland could cause such a ruckus?

Any and all thoughts welcome….

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