Transforming a Giant: The Siemen's Journey

A glimpse into how Siemens evolved from a titan of industry to a high-tech juggernaut

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Multinational conglomerate Siemens is a hard company to classify. Founded in 1847, Siemens has developed technical solutions for almost every major sector of industry. From energy to healthcare to transportation infrastructure, Siemens has pioneered innovations that not only help companies operate more efficiently, but shape the physical and digital environments we live in. 

Siemens success hinges on its ability to anticipate change and stay ahead of the technological curve, a feat that undoubtedly grows harder and harder each year. To maximize agility and responsiveness to market fluctuations as well as reinvigorate company culture after a series of scandals, Siemens launched a massive reorganization effort in 2014.

Dubbed Vision 2020, the goals of this digital-enabled transformation to boost operational business performance, strengthen the core business and expand into new markets. In 2018, Siemens took their digital transformation efforts to the next level with Vision 2020+ , an extended initiative aimed at providing Siemens' individual businesses with “significantly more entrepreneurial freedom under the strong Siemens brand in order to sharpen their focus on their respective markets.” 

The key enabler of this transformation? Well technology of course. 

Over the course of 7 years, Siemens implemented next generation, cognitive technologies throughout its entire enterprise to drive process excellence, agility and business resilience. 

For example, Siemens launched its global RPA center of excellence (COE) in 2017 to spearhead and scale the internal implementation of RPA, intelligent automation and other AI-powered projects. This structure provides business units with the guidance as well as the freedom to innovate while also ensuring alignment with larger-organizational objectives and governance. 

Siemens also created an open ecosystem “to enable ‘best of breed’ intelligent automation technologies to be augmented by our digital workforce.” In other words, equip Siemens’ army of software bots with the “skills” they needed to automate complex processes from end-to-end such as:

  • execution of rule based, repetitive tasks
  • input gathering, validation and routing
  • input classification and interpretation
  • stakeholder communication and orchestration
  • analyzing and predicting insights from data

This open ecosystem included IBM Watson for natural language understanding, Google Cloud for natural language translation, Microsoft for chatbot framework and orchestration, Blue Prism’s connected-RPA platform, and a secure connection to Siemens’ workflows, data lake and other applications. 

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Siemens has also completely revamped its HR systems from hire-to-retire. As Lothar Teschke, Global Head of HR Projects at Siemens, explained at a 2020 People Matters TechHR 2020 conference, “through digitization, organizations can enhance efficiency by creating an ecosystem that enables the workforce to work anytime, anywhere, on any device.”

By embracing an arsenal of digital, cloud-based technologies such as Workday HCM and Avature ATS, Siemens was able to not only automate end-to-end HR processes, but dramatically improve the HR customer experience. 

For example, collaboration with IBM, built an HR chatbot called CARL, which stands for Cognitive Assistant for Interactive User Relationship and Continuous Learning. Instead of submitting a service ticket, employees with HR questions can simply ask CARL, who will either answer their question right away or direct them to a subject matter expert. 

Combined with substantial investments in startups and R&D, Siemens’s digital transformation has enabled the organization to evolve from a titan of industrial production to an agile, high-tech juggernaut. Though achieving many of the goals outlined in Vision 2020+ is an ongoing process, Siemens has not only regained its position as a top industry player, it’s significantly outperforming its competitors when it comes to agility, resilience and profitability. 

While many of its competitors struggled in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, YOY profits for Siemens increased 28% to 1.88 billion euros ($2.21 billion) from July-September. Furthermore, over the past year, Siemens stock prices have increased by 16%, outperforming expectations.

Though these numbers may not be a direct result of its internal digital transformation efforts, by having a sound digital infrastructure in place, Siemens was able to more effectively expand into and capitalize on new opportunities for growth as well as eliminate those areas that were no longer carrying their weight. 

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