In September last year Chuck Grindstaff announced a reorganisation of Siemens PLM Software. As part of this, my D-Cubed group, together with the other PLM Components groups, became part of a new unit – the CTO.
Last week I got a chance to spend some time with Paul Sicking, head of the CTO, when he visited the D-Cubed office in Cambridge, and asked him some questions about the new unit.
Mike: Paul, can you tell us what the CTO is, and what it includes?
Paul: Sure. The CTO is the Central Technology Office for the Siemens PLM Software business unit. Among other things, we’re responsible for the shared technology components that are at the heart of virtually all our products. This includes commercial toolkits, like the D-Cubed tools, Parasolid, and PLM Vis, as well as well as other components that are used internally within our end user products. In addition, we are responsible for shared development services and tools – things like the development environment, user documentation, training, localization, and platform certification. We also have a group of senior architects who help with technical alignment across the company.
Mike: That’s quite a wide mix! Is it possible to summarize how the CTO interacts with other units?
Paul: Because the CTO is fundamentally a horizontal organization, our people interact with lots of people across the company as well as with people from other business units within the Siemens corporation. Internally, members of the CTO provide architectural leadership on cross portfolio initiatives to promote technical alignment as our products expand into new areas. In addition, we coordinate innovation and IP-related activities across the company. On a broader level, we interact with other Siemens business units that have complementary hardware and software products. We also collaborate with Siemens Corporate Technology, which is a central organization within Siemens that provides us with access to outstanding research in related fields.
Mike: How does the CTO bring value to users of our software?
Paul: Most obviously, our component technologies are embedded into all Siemens PLM Software products: NX, Solid Edge, Teamcenter, and Tecnomatix. The end users of those products derive a lot of value from the functionality and robustness of our Parasolid, D-Cubed, and JT technologies. But just as importantly, the component technologies are delivered as part of our open strategy which enables users to achieve higher levels of interoperability not just within our products but also with those from other companies.
Mike: The D-Cubed and Parasolid products have been offered as components for many years. Do you think that these are a good model for other areas of technology?
Paul: I’ve always been impressed with the deep appreciation that the D-Cubed and Parasolid teams have for what it takes to be a supplier of software components. They obviously have the technical expertise to innovate and deliver highly sophisticated toolkits. One of the things that sets them apart, though, is their attention to all the other details that are just as important to the toolkit user: documentation, reliability, platform support, and rock solid interface stability. That toolkit culture is world-class and it’s important in other areas of our product line as well.
Mike: Are you planning any changes for how the PLM Components are offered to other companies?
Paul: Absolutely not. We have a long term commitment to support our PLM Component customers. It’s an important part of our business and it’s central to our open technology philosophy. Incidentally, my association with Parasolid goes way back to the early days when we first acquired it from Shape Data, Ltd. Even then we had a dual strategy of using Parasolid as the core geometry engine for our CAD/CAM products and also to make it available as an independent commercial toolkit. That strategy is even more engrained in our company now than it was back then – not just for Parasolid, but also for the D-Cubed software and the other PLM Components.
Mike: What do you see as the major factors that drive innovation in Siemens PLM Software at the moment?
Paul: These are interesting times. The computing environment is changing rapidly which opens up lots of novel possibilities for delivering our technology. For example, the widespread adoption of mobile devices enables us to deliver apps that reach new users or existing users in new situations. Also, our innovation is being driven by changes in our customers’ environment. Their products are becoming increasingly complex, with more content, more variability, and more automation. On the one hand that challenges our software but on the other it’s a great breeding ground for innovation.
Mike: Of these, which do you personally think is the most exciting, and why?
Paul: The really exciting thing to me is finding solutions to those complex problems but presenting them in a simple and compelling user experience. The advancements in the computing environment help and so does getting an in depth understanding of the customer’s problems and environment.
Mike: Paul, you’ve been with the company a long time. In fact, in another of his blog posts Chuck Grindstaff said he used to write finite element code for you. Any final thoughts on your vision for our organization?
Paul: Yeah, Chuck and I worked together on our company’s first finite element modelling application. It’s amazing how far the technology has come since those early days. We couldn’t have imagined the kinds of simulation software that’s available today. Looking ahead, I’m sure that the pace of innovation will continue to accelerate and that our component technologies will continue to provide a solid foundation as well as promote our openness and interoperability.