What’s in a name?

Sep 11, 2019 | Hot Topics

If you’re Siemens, apparently it’s plenty. If you tuned into the PLMish news last week, you’ll likely know that Siemens PLM Software is now Siemens Digital Industries Software and that the overarching umbrella brand for that software is Xcelerator. Why, you rightly ask, do this? After all, the Siemens PLM brand has market credibility, we all know (or can argue to the death about) what PLM is, and don’t believe we want or need a new super-brand in the mix. So, what’s up?

Siemens AG has been buying up software assets, to the tune of $11 billion since the UGS acquisition a decade ago and ending, most recently, with Mendix, Lightworks, Saab Medav, a South African distributor, Stech. Along the way, there were Mentor, CD-adapco and a whole lot more — none, it should be noted, were what one could call pure-play PLM. So the PLM thing was being diluted almost right from the start.

Then, add in the fact that Siemens has always had a software business –that’s what drives all of those production line controllers and monitors the trains and turbines that other parts of Siemens make– that it merged into the PLM business unit a couple of years ago and the PLM name became even more insufficient.

Now, most recently, we add the Mendix software coding environment — a totally agnostic, cross-industry offering. Mendix doesn’t care if you’re a PLMer, an insurance firm or a bakery; you can use Mendix to develop apps to run your business and communicate with customers and employees.

“PLM” no longer represents what the “PLM business” was up to. A name change was warranted, parent company Siemens AG did a reorg and, presto, the Siemens Digital Industries business unit was created. Within that, Siemens Digital Industries Software encompasses the brands we all know.

So, why the Xcelerator superbrand? That’s a more difficult question to answer and one that Siemens really hasn’t yet made clear.

Last week at the analyst and press event that unveiled both the new name and the Xcelerator tag. VP Marketing Brenda Discher and CEO Tony Hemmelgarn both stood in front of a ginormous screen with the Xcelerator logo and the tagline “Where today meets tomorrow”. (The cover image is of the slide, courtesy of Siemens.) Honestly, what does that even mean? Both execs buried that lead in their initial presentations and no one who followed really addressed it until Ms. Discher closed the main part of the event — when she said that the Xcelerators are meant to accelerate (get it?) customers’ time to value from their technology investments.

I’m still not sure what it means and could certainly be wrong, but here’s my take: Xcelerator is all of Siemens’ design, engineering and manufacturing offerings across all of its industries, plus the Mendix app development platform plus MindSphere, Siemens’ cloud-based IoT operating system.

This part isn’t new and it’s what Siemens PLM has been working on for the last year. What I think is new, and maybe the reason for the Xcelerator platformish concept, is that Siemens wants to blur/merge/smooth the edges between engineering/design and operations, and it intends to do that by releasing apps that combine its traditional technologies and MindSphere, using the Mendix coding platform as the base.

Siemens Digital Industries Software (goodness, what a mouthful) focused on three attributes during the analyst event which I think are intended to be core values of Xcelerator:

  • Comprehensive Digital Twin: that’s the traditionally PLMish part of the portfolio for the digital half of the twin plus MindSphere for the operating data, creating the real half of the twin

  • Personalized/Adaptable/Modern: the user experience into and around the digital twin, serving app-sized views into whatever is relevant for someone to do their job — created using Mendix

  • Flexible Open Ecosystem: that’s the apple pie value the company has had for decades, mostly in response to the perception that Dassault Systemes’ platforms are “closed” (they’re not). Nothing new here.

Tie this all together, and we get a platform that can build a job-specific app that presents a version of a digital twin of an operating machine, say, that can capture user input about some aspect of operations, merge that with IoT-captured performance data and eventually feed those insights back into design and manufacturing, when that product needs to be refreshed.

We’ll have to wait to see what the rebranded SDIS (no? Siemens DIS?) does with Xcelerator but we can’t argue how massive this company is. Mr. Hemmelgarn said that his part of Digital Industries includes 22,000 people, with revenue over $4 billion (nope, no details), organic PLMish revenue growth in the double digits (highest rate among his competitors, Mr. Hemmelgarn notes), and that 65% of the business is from recurring revenue sources. He claims that Siemens’ software business (of which DIS is a large part) makes one of the top ten software companies in the world — substantial, backed by a company that generated €83 billion in revenue in its last fiscal year, and clearly relying on its former PLM business to propel it into the digital age.

There’s lots more to cover from the event: the first release of the Bentley+Teamcenter partnership, called CALM; rebranding of the Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) solution as Siemens Opcenter and adding in Mentor’s Valor; some really cool stuff in Simcenter; and lots of new case studies for Mendix and MindSphere. I’ll get to that as I can but here’s my

Bottom line, for now: Siemens Digital Industries Software is big and acts bigger because it has its parent’s total support. It continues to integrate all of its engineering and design acquisitions with one another, while also leveraging those assets via MindSphere and Mendix into new areas. The end-goal really is a digital factory, where the production line is designed, optimized and operated using Siemens technology. The gizmo that comes off the production line will have been designed using Siemens tech, is run via apps that tie together the digital twin from design and the as-operated twin from MindSphere, presented in a user-friendly way via Mendix. And, yes, all of that is made possible by NX, Teamcenter, Simcenter, Mentor, and all of the brands that got us to this point. Now for factory, sub in oil rig or office building or train, and you get a sense of how big this vision really is.

Note: Siemens graciously covered some of the expenses associated with my participation in the event but did not in any way influence the content of this post.