Human-centred innovation in a digital world.

Today we are facing many current disruptions where we need to react fast and intelligently. There are many situations we are facing that are a race against time. As we continue to respond to Covid-19, technology has the power to reduce the complexity often faced, speed up and contribute to solutions that help resolve pressing issues.

We recognize that equally as important as the technology are the people using the technology. Having people at the centre of designs enables more intelligent, rapid and lasting innovation.  The Digital Twin is where data from the physical and virtual world come together and is increasingly where people and technology come together to resolve many of today’s challenges.

Applying human-centred innovation

Tony Hemmelgarn, the CEO of Siemens Digital Industries Software, presented “Human-centred Innovation” at the Hannover Messe show (April 12th to 16th, 2021), which was held in a virtual environment.

Siemens provided a three-day event showcasing their hardware and software solutions and many other technology innovations.

Tony touched on how digital technology is being used to solve today’s present issues and how working with the comprehensive digital twin and having people at the heart of the design make a significant contribution to some current challenges.

Throughout the presentations, the digital twin was positioned as the catalyst for change, with the digital twin featured in nearly every presentation and across the stories of Siemens customers from multiple industries.

The powerful engine with digitalization

I see this digital twin as the powerful engine under the Siemens bonnet to drive growth and Industrial and Societal Transformation. The digital twin spans so much in industry and changing the products we use through its predictive, modelling, optimizing approach.

Recently Frost and Sullivan praised the Siemens Software portfolio: “such a diverse line of solutions offered in a modular, open portfolio makes Xcelerator a game-changing catalyst for companies of all sizes.”

Tony’s examples show the power of Human-centred innovation and how digitally enabled software solutions have been in powerful use to resolve some critical issues in the past year.

The rapid need for Vaccines

In the past, vaccine development has traditionally been a process measured in years, if not decades. Over the last ten years, new vaccine technologies have been increasingly available. Fast forward to today and the crisis we all face with COVID-19, we needed a rapid acceleration of vaccines from discovery through trial validation and production ramp-up. Already most of the major pharmaceutical or biotechnology companies had some levels of vaccine platform technologies.

American pharmaceutical company Moderna took 42 days to produce an experimental vaccine. GSK, in collaboration with Atos and Siemens, have been building and ramping up their vaccine facilities and have successfully developed a digital process twin through an innovative partnership. Just announced is the collaborative work that Siemens has been doing with BioNTech, getting involved in converting existing facilities in Germany to produce the mRNA-vaccine project.

With a digital twin, Siemens’ customers use different technologies to create a virtual world where research and development can explore new therapies and vaccines. A digital twin can simulate the process like cell culture, fermentation, formulation and filling. A digital twin combines all biological processes and physical models into a single integrated virtual image. It is the power of Siemens’ simulation and automation that has enabled the “race against time.”

The pharmaceutical and life science industry embraces technology to accelerate research and development to production by recognising the value of simulation and modelling by merging the virtual and physical worlds. This allows infinite opportunities from industrial data to extend and build out the digital twin capabilities faster, more expanding ways with a greater push towards a complete embrace of digital transformation.

Keeping Us Safe for Resuming Travel

We all have had imposed on us severe travel restrictions. Airlines are looking to encourage us back onto their planes. Using Siemens’ Xcelerator portfolio, the need was to design and simulate air quality.

Using part of the solutions available by simulating airflow, calculating filter rates, the ability to design a filter for cabin air to change every 2-3 minutes was tackled. The ability to simulate and analyse detailed sensing data allowed for modelling and finding a more optimal design that has progressed to more innovative and safe solutions for air quality.

The Digital Manufacturing Factory

Manufacturing that has been taking their digital journey before the COVID-19 crisis was equally hit but have been far more able to react, adjust and reposition themselves in a particularly challenging, volatile time.

Initially, to get Manufacturing restarted, Siemens Digital Industries Software introduced workplace distancing solutions to manage that “next or new normal” in manufacturing.

Extending out the Digitally Connected Factory

Across the Siemens Virtual event held in Hannover Messe week, the examples of so many changes that have been enabled by the use of digital solutions, especially the Digital Twin contribution. You can view these by first registering even after the event has closed to view these significant stories of how the Digital Twin has radically altered the design and management of different industries, plants, and adaptive approaches to design.

Siemens Digital Industries Software approach’s foundation is Xcelerator; it is at the core of the strategy.

This integrated portfolio of software, services, and an application development platform for electronic and mechanical design, system simulation, manufacturing, operations, and lifecycle analytics.

As pointed out in this talk, the three levers provide a comprehensive digital twin, a personalized adaptable and modern approach and a flexible open ecosystem but delivering in a closed loop to individual needs.

The story around Human-centred innovation shows the power of technology.

As Tony states, Siemens’ Digital Enterprise solutions are solving not just today’s challenges but tomorrows. The digital twin is all around us if we look and explore digitalization and gain productivity in new, exciting, and accelerating ways. It is becoming essential, for example, in managing across a manufacturing plant, designing a new aircraft or modelling our cities.

The digital twin brings solutions to life quickly; it can provide generative design techniques, allow for mass customisation, it is flexible and self-organizing. It is a compelling digital solution.

As we learn to merge the physical and virtual worlds, it is the ingenuity of the people that are at the centre of the design that enables this more intelligent, raid and lasting innovation that derives from the application of all within the Siemens digital twin, they drive the imagination and curiosity to solve complexity.

Reference Links

The Siemens Hannover Messe event. Register through this link for on-demand viewing:


Disclaimer: This article is published in partnership with Siemens. Siemens is paying for my engagement, not for promotional purpose. Opinions are my own. #SIEx




My 5 S for future Innovation: Smart, Stacks, Scale, Storage, and Software

Technology is radically altering our need for innovation. We see increasingly innovation is feeding off the “digital response rate

Connecting technology and innovation is altering how we should re-access organizations ability to build out. We are in the middle of a technological-led industrial revolution It is becoming highly dynamic.

****I decided to revise this post as I originally got caught up in “conflation”. Two ideas merging as one and it simply lost the insights of each, simply attempting to fuse different thoughts into one entity. It honestly did not work and I struggled with what to do.  By splitting them up they become separate reads and more digestible and hopefully of better value. I have to admit this is not the first time I get caught in this  (or I expect the last!) and I apologize to you, as the reader *****

So here I outline a 5S framework to trigger some opening thoughts on breaking down technology design complexity. The other post, now over on my other site, deals with the growth of “apps” in IIoT “Great apps will deliver the future business value in IIoT” and is predicting a changing future based on some recent takeover announcements.

So getting that embarrassment behind me lets go back to the 5S idea.

Arriving at a designed outcome is getting complicated. Developers get caught up in the details, rightly so, to deliver on a connected world but you must always ask the “what for?”

The more I was thinking I was trying to cut through all this “unnecessary fog” as a non-techie so I started to build my 5S idea. Let me share it
Continue reading

Optimism in Innovation, Thinking About Risk Differently

For me, there is never enough talked about innovation risk. Innovation is held back so often because the quantification of it’s risk cannot fit into an organization’s current assessment and measurements of risk.

Innovation is often too intangible, full of unknowns as the very nature of anything new and different. Innovation risk leaves many executives very uncomfortable.

Organizations get uncomfortable when the words “radical” “intangible”, “unknowns” and other words like these when they form part of the conversation. It often starts to induce that “risk twitch” where that careful management for short-term performance might become threatened, or the manager feels any decision is ‘going out on a limb’ and possibly career threatening.

That growing uncomfortable feeling that innovation places their bonus at “risk” so they like to ring-fence innovation as much as possible. Now some of that ring-fencing is fine, you contain a risk to keep it manageable but most innovation does not constitute organization risk, yet it gets caught up in that risky fear that innovation seems to induce. Actually, if we were managing innovation at the core, our risk management for it would be very heightened and managed differently, but how many of our companies’ have innovation as their core?

So I always welcome discussion on risk and innovation. The more we talk about it the better for what is coming towards us. Continue reading

Innovation cannot expand without the 4th Industrial Revolution

We are a long way away from fully capturing the benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) in an inclusive and holistic way. To do this, technology adoption and diffusion across the ecosystem needs to improve dramatically.

In a recent report, jointly from the World Economic Forum and McKinsey called the “The Fourth Industrial Revolution and the factories of the future” they made a number of observations

“After a decade of flat productivity, the arrival of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is expected to create up to $3.7 trillion in value to global manufacturing. A few years back, experts noted that the changes associated with the 4IR would come at an unprecedented rate yielding incredible results for those who truly embraced them.

Still, the hockey stick of benefits has not kicked in yet – while all companies are making efforts to adopt technology, most of the production industry (~70%) remains in pilot purgatory (where technology pilots last for extended periods of time, and companies do not take the final step of scaling up viable technologies). Less than 30% of manufacturing companies are actively rolling out Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies at scale”

No wonder we presently have trouble attracting many businesses onto platforms when they are still very much behind in deciding or deploying a strategically thought-through IIoT digital design, that is connecting everything up.

It is equally holding a new form of innovation back, one that is highly collaborative where partners come together to work on more complex problems. Collaborators can achieve solutions only by being “fully” connected up, comfortable with their data, understanding and contribution, both within their knowledge and insights.

The power of multiple-connected ecosystems gives innovation a completely different momentum but it needs this 4th industrial revolution to be fully operative, for a digitally connected world in manufacturing and beyond. Continue reading

The legend of the Gordian Knot and today’s organizations “knotty” problems

Cutting the Gordian Knot

If you are not aware, it is worth reading about the Gordian Knot. “For people the world over, the Gordian Knot represents the difficult, the intractable and often the insolvable problem. Today’s systemic business problems are the modern-day equivalent of this seemingly impossible challenge, our Gordian Knots to untie or cut through.

According to Greek mythology, the huge, ball-like Turkish knot with no ends exposed was impossible to untie. An oracle had predicted that the first person to do so would become the ruler of all Asia. Thousands of people had tried, without success, to unlock its complex riddles. Alexander of Macedonia, son of King Philip II of Macedon, solved this puzzle simply and very creatively – by cutting it in half with his sword, exposing its ends and making it possible to untie. Alexander the Great went on to conquer all of Asia, just as the oracle predicted”.

So are Organizations Cutting their Gordian Knots?

So how can we cut the intractable knot inside organizations and thrive from it? Continue reading

So the value we can derive from using Knowledge Graphs

How does Knowledge Graphs fit within our need to communicate in new, visually exciting ways?

Let me provide a short narrative to give this a meaning and why it is becoming so important

Today we deliver content- It has become far too easy. We are drowning in it on a daily basis. We all suffer a massive deluge of digital input. Content can’t stand alone.

  • What we need is context to anchor content and give it the clear meaning to understand………..that’s our necessary starting point.

Context shifts everything, it gives it shape, a structure to draw (deeper) meaning from. We learn to know, to integrate, to remember, to understand and to act.

Of course, context is going to be fluid as it builds out its related content.

Having content and context is complementary, interconnected, and interdependent, they interrelate to one another.

As we gain more insights we can potentially build a greater understanding. We simply improve our knowledge.

It is going to be needed to be adaptive as we learn but it will be placed in ‘certain bounds’. If we start from a much clearer starting base then the learning and discovery allow people to want to find solutions as they gain increased knowledge and provide fresh inputs, they begin to strongly relate. We pass through memory understanding as we learn. Continue reading

A feast of opportunities for Siemens?

I decided to invest a decent amount of time into the Siemens 3rd Quarter Announcements and it has been worth it.

I really don’t understand the reporters and analysts attending this event as they seem to continue to stay stuck in their recurring opinions and stances, constant looking in the rear-view mirror. It has its reference points perhaps but it is understanding “the road ahead and its conditions” that provide shareholder value.

We need to become more forward-looking based on strategic outlook, innovation potential and market opportunities.

The analysts seek to always look constantly to the immediate, often not looking beyond their own noses. They seem not to want to go under the bonnet through investigation, just rely on ‘given’ handouts or myopic views, rooted in the short-term. The sound of future innovation potential was in most of the event as very evident but lost in the focus on immediate numbers and results. Why? Continue reading

The chance to think differently about Ecosystems for Innovation

Thinking about ecosystems certainly allows us to go out of our normal scope of invention, innovation and being creative.

The ability to tackle those larger societal problems within an ecosystem, or combine unique resources to overcome a complex challenge you are incapable of solving alone, does have greater potential in a collaborative adaptive system.

Ecosystem co-operations can allow you to align with others, totally outside your existing relationships, so you can enter new markets, explore new concepts and design, that would have been impossible as an individual organization.

Applying ecosystem thinking offers you the collaborative ability to extend beyond more traditional channels of delivery, or restricted to only utilizing your existing infrastructure. It allows you to search and build on others specialization that “greater” innovation.

We are all making greater connections within ourselves, as we find and connect, not just into our own “tribes” that all the different social platforms are providing, so as to establish our own personal identity. Crowdsourcing is another example that is offering huge potential to exploit new frontiers, as it can encourage us to forge, and connect, so as to serve and grow whole new communities from ‘simple’ beginning, building on real-time knowledge, collaborations and resolving challenges and problems we know are “out there” but we, alone, did not have the means to solve.

The future of collaborations can increasingly share previously idle or under-utilized assets, it can extend the life, it can extract that ideal knowledge, often locked in one organization. We are seeing the most valuable companies that are emerging today are largely based on sophisticated platform business models where ecosystems are vital to their health and global ambitions (Apple, Amazon, Car Manufacturers are all examples).

Ecosystems built around specific platform designs are the future of innovation that takes designs and solutions into a new realm of opportunity, built on collaborative engagement and common missions. As we learn we adapt, as we share we grow.

But be aware – the challenges are difficult to work through

Continue reading