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Openness is at the core of our strategy says Chuck Grindstaff, head of Siemens PLM Software

Chuck Grindstaff joined the company in 1978 and took over as president and chief technology officer, Siemens PLM Software in October 2010.

What key initiatives will you drive over the next 12 to 18 months?
HD-PLM is important to us — we have so much capability in our product. We’re getting all of that bundled up in a very simple navigation, search and delivery environment to enable the right context for a decision. This system consolidation will be a big improvement for our customers, reducing their people, training and IT costs.

It doesn’t have to all be 3D. If you’re an integrated circuit designer you want to use our product in 2D. So we’ve been working to make sure that HD-PLM can work with various kinds of visualisa tion approaches but still with the same objective of consolidating, bringing the right contacts and aligning that for a decision. We have views that could from retail and apparel to IC and electronics design to ship building. The 3D content in those changes as you go across. So that’s a big deal.

Obviously we’ll continue with synchronous technology — this is really game changing. I wish we were all the way done with a full roll out, but I can tell you right now we’ve only begun to scratch the surface and our customers are starting to get real value out of it. At the end of the journey, the way in which people do shape design will be revolu tionised by this technology. We will see speed, performance, ease of use, ability to deal with multi CAD. In effect, this represents the removal of the proprietary nature of the core CAD files.

Mechatronics Concept Designer is a place where we packaged it all up and provided a solution.

What is your strategy with regard to the education sector?
We do have a very aggressive program to put ourselves into the curricula across a variety of universities and high schools, and then to assist in the actual delivery of courseware and courses around the actual curricula.

One of my initiatives is to push the game up on this to get it more organised and focused on delivering top notch engineers that are fully aware of our technology. In the PLM industry, we need to do much more to make our technology more accessible and useable.

The current generation of students expect fun interfaces that are intuitive. They also expect integration, simplicity and a rich user experience. And the rest of us older people will enjoy it too.

We’re targeting ten thousand univer sities with over a million engineers trained a year. Our goal is to have every engineer in every university at some point touch our software, understand who we are and leverage our software to do their engineering work.

One of your cornerstones is openness. How does this benefit the user?
I can think of openness in two or three different directions. First is the tech nology itself — is it possible technologi cally to connect things together? Here most vendors are pretty similar.

So what’s different about us? Well, if you look at what you do with that tech nology, the level of control, the level of access, now we begin to differentiate what we do from the others. We try to be very careful about the kinds of connections between our products — so what NX uses to communicate to Teamcenter is a set of APIs. We expose those APIs to everybody; so we make them available to our customers, we license them to third parties. We don’t have two sets — our internal set that’s really good; and then the dumb set that we allow others to use.

The third piece is a business model. We could restrict people from using those APIs but we have a very strong heritage around openness. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a competitor or whether you’re a partner or a customer, we’ll provide the same terms.

If you take these three tests and apply them to other vendors, you’ll find there’s only one aspect that we all share. I think we differentiate ourselves pretty well.

[Kevin Gomez attended the Siemens Industry Software Analyst Conference in Boston in September 2010.]

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