Siemens Analyst Event – both impressive and disappointing

PAC had the opportunity to participate at the analyst conference held by Siemens PLM Software in Boston from September 6-7. Siemens’ software business unit hosted around 200 analysts to showcase, among other things, its extended capabilities after the acquisition and integration of Mentor Graphics. And while we were indeed demonstrated Siemens’ strong capacities around the concept of the digital twin, what also became apparent was the (still existing) weaknesses around its IoT platform MindSphere. In the following, we want to give a brief summary of what we took away from the event in this context. More details will be released in a short report (Expert View) in the coming days.

Digital twin

No doubt, Siemens’ capabilities with regard to delivering a holistic concept of the digital twin are very strong. Siemens can address all aspects of the digital twin from ideation (design phase) over realization (manufacturing processes and production systems) to utilization (product usage). As products become ever more complex and turn into a “system of systems”, it gets increasingly important to mirror them and obtain a digital representative, to improve both the time-to-market and efficiency. Siemens is able to deliver this concept to clients, for example in the form of virtual testing of prototypes, production simulations and by closing the loop through IoT, i.e. by collecting real usage data from the field to improve services and support. Thanks to the acquisition of Mentor Graphics, Siemens can not only provide a digital twin of the mechanical part (via CAD/PLM) and the software part (via ALM) of a product, but also of the electrical cabling and electronic design of a complex product. This allows Siemens to build a digital twin with 4 dimensions (mechanical, software, electrical and electronics) with the clear advantage that not only each dimension can be virtually tested, but also the implications between the different parts of a “system of systems”. The concept of the digital twin is only just taking off, but it is already quite impressive to see what Siemens can bring to the table in terms of a holistic delivery.

MindSphere

It is a well-known fact that Siemens was rather late to the market with MindSphere. All the more important to boldly forge ahead with its IoT platform now, to catch up against the strong competition from GE, PTC or Bosch. And yes, Siemens has indeed made progress with MindSphere over the last few months, however not to the degree we expected. It was surprising to see that the event did not have a particular focus on MindSphere and not many details were revealed about the new release that had come out in July – was there not more to show? What Siemens underpinned at the event was mainly the large number of things that had got connected to MindSphere. Which are indeed impressive numbers: according to Siemens, 30m automation systems, 70m contracted smart meters and 800,000 connected products are now connected with its cross-industry IoT platform. The majority of them are clearly Siemens devices. However, in terms of many other aspects, MindSphere is still lagging behind. From a functional perspective, the enhanced analytics capabilities of MindSphere still seem limited, e.g. in the area of machine learning. Regarding new applications, Siemens – together with its partner Atos – demonstrated some improvements, however nothing fundamentally new was presented in this context. The enhancement of its partner ecosystem is going forward, but more slowly than expected from our side. In addition, it was disappointing to see that Siemens was not able to communicate a strong USP for MindSphere itself, only as part of its overall digital twin concept. Which gave us the impression that Siemens does not position MindSphere as a core offering, but rather as an add-on service within its broad portfolio. However, Siemens promised it would show many more details around MindSphere at the end of the year – a dedicated event for MindSphere is planned for December. We will certainly have a close look and keep you posted.