CAD? We've heard of it
Siemens Digital Industries Software last month held a user group meeting online, and then invited the media to a Q&A with execs the following day. The few times I have interacted with ceo Tony Hemmelgarn, I found him to be a realistic leader who doesn't do the painful-to-hear isn't-everything-amazing?, we're-really-excited! marketing schtick.
There was, however, one embarrassing moment when during the keynote he referenced Lordstown Motors using Siemens software to design their electric pickup truck -- the day after Lordstown announced it was cutting this year's production from 2,500 to 1,000 pickups. Research had earlier shown that most of its 100,000 pre-orders were unlikely to materialize. Subsequently, the company announced it would produce 0 trucks for the rest of the year, and its CEO left.
Here are some of the notes I took during the Q&A held with us in the CAD media:
- - -
Since 2007, Siemens has spent e10 billion on 30+ acquisitions. Reaching all the way back to 2007 is the year Siemens acquired UGS for its NX, Solid Edge, and TeamCenter software. The total does not not include spending on R&D.
While Siemens is one of the sensible CAD firms knowing that MCAD belongs primarily on the desktop, they are nevertheless pushing their Xcelerator Cloud Platform so hard that MCAD got no mention, to my disappointment. Nevertheless, Siemens could use the tagline, "Cloud Your Way," as it runs on public cloud, private cloud, and on-premise.
Electrical and electronic CAD is now 1/3 of the biz and over the last 18 months as been the fastest growing part of Siemens PLM. This due partly to acquisitions; indeed, most of the press releases I get these days from Siemens have to do with ECAD, which I don't cover.
We can’t have digital twins today without electronics, and Siemens has three of the pieces:
- IC integrated circuits
- Electrical systems, like harnesses
- PCB design
"There is a great need for it, as we see in the chip shortages and number of car companies wanting to design their own electronics, rather than using off the shelf parts," said Mr Hemmelgarn. He said he wants his company to make the digital twin the most comprehensive it can be. He has, of course, internal incentive, given that the rest of Siemens is a giant industrial firm that eats its own dog food.
Q: TeamCenter X was announced a year ago, how it is going?
A: Going better than I expected. TeamCenter X lets Siemens target small organizations. We replaced some Teamcenter components to make X more agile and flexible. TeamCenter is #1 PLM solution on the market today, with customers such as SAP, IBM, and US Air Force globally. Fujitsu has its own PLM, but decided to offer TeamCenter in Japan.
Mendix is for customers to personalize services without having to be a software developer. We have 200,000 third-party developers around the world.
Q: How does Xcellerator fit in?
A: Xcellerator is one common architecture, packaged business components to build applications. It puts all services in the cloud. Customers want the cloud for collaboration, sharing, and integration -- on-prem, public (Amazon), or private cloud.
Q: Do you expect all customers to move to SaaS?
A: We will have more info on SaaS [software as a service] for you in the future. We are not going to force our customers, one way or another, onto business models that don’t make sense to them. However, there is value in SaaS to our customers, such as us taking care of things for them, or high-performance computing. I think that the worry about IP [intellectual property] on the cloud is going away. I think the transition to SaaS will happen faster than we expect.
Just because you put something on the cloud doesn’t mean it is more integrated than anything else. What do we mean by integration? Data flowing from application to application, to make decisions faster -- that is true integration, that’s not the cloud. Integration is work, and we work at it. BTW, we are never finished with it and so we keep making acquisitions to keep building out integration modules.
Q: Which manufacturing techs are generating hype, which are actually valuable?
A: Additive manufacturing was overhyped five, six years ago. "Everyone" is going to have a 3D printer at home: if your coffee cup breaks, you don’t run to Wal-Mart, but you print your own. That was the hype. The reality is that additive manufacturing is a new business model, in the the flexibility it brings to businesses.
Low-code, like our Mendix, had a lot of hype early on, but now is experiencing rapid growth due to the demand for applications without needing to involve the IT department. We can call it “citizens’ development.” We went from “Mendix can build the perfect application if we all contribute to it,” to me copying someone else’s low-code, adding a couple of buttons, and having something that works for me.
IoT [Internet of things] had a lot of hype, it still does, but slowly it is being integrated. It was initially a lot like AM.
Q: Why do you continue to sell Parasolid to competitors?
A: Open is one of our three strategies, as I don’t think closed works. Much of the success about Teamcenter is its openness. There are over four million users of Parasolid, with the same math behind them. We add three or four new customers a month who license Parasolid: I think of the value behind that. There is no data loss for our customers in the geometry; there is, of course, some data loss in the intelligence attached to geometry.
Q: How is your business doing?
A: We can’t say much about our financial results. Last quarter we had double-digit growth in our software business, although PLM is not growing as fast as our EDA business.
Our toughest customers are inside Siemens. We get beat up by the: "Why can’t it do this, do that?" We use our software to design our products, to design our plants.