Siemens Realize LIVE 2024: AI, Partnerships, and Industrial Metaverse

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By James Prestwood | 2Q 2024 | IN-7349

Siemens’ annual U.S. customer event, Realize LIVE 2024, focused heavily on how the company is helping customers leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology by constructing digital threads, alongside strengthening partnerships to support its portfolio in this space, with its deepened relationship with Microsoft being the most notable announcement from the event.

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AI and the Supporting Digital Thread


The Siemens Realize LIVE customer event, hosted in Las Vegas May 13-17, can be split into three key themes: getting manufacturers set up for Artificial Intelligence (AI), extending Siemens’ partnership network, and the industrial metaverse.

As with most other industrial events of the year, the topic of AI was never far away at Realize LIVE; however, a differentiated narrative by Siemens was a greater focus on preparing manufacturers to leverage AI alongside the display of point solutions. Siemens Industrial Copilot represented one of the more immediate and impactful solutions presented, aiming to support operator activities across the breadth of Siemens’ portfolio in design, planning, engineering, and operations. Functionality will include creating initial prototypes and mock-ups with natural language prompts, generating planning scenarios based on resource scarcity to optimize production, and optimizing and debugging automation code to shorten development timelines. Siemens did not position AI solutions as a separate product that will be offered to customers, but rather as embedded capabilities within its existing portfolio, with the idea that AI will augment and amplify existing solutions.

Digital threads were an associated prominent topic, with Siemens driving the idea that these connections represent the backbone of AI capabilities, while offerings like the Siemens Xcelerator platform act as a unified solution through which customers can access and utilize different suites of capability depending on where they are in their digital maturity journey. The digital thread further underpins Siemens’ central strategy that aims to bring together the company’s wide range of solutions into a single, cohesive portfolio, with Siemens working for many years to align these point solutions. Such a holistic narrative was further demonstrated as Siemens continued to drive synergy between its automation and software businesses, with both complementing each other’s Go-to-Market (GTM) strategies. Consistently, traditional hardware companies are realizing that much of their future business will be found in the software world, with industry automation hardware mainstays such as Emerson, Rockwell Automation, and Schneider Electric also increasingly augmenting their portfolio with a range of improved software offerings across Supervisory Control and Acquisition Data (SCADA), Manufacturing Execution System (MES), Quality Management System (QMS), and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions. 

Partnerships to Support AI and Industrial Metaverse


Siemens also announced an expanded partnership with Microsoft, which aims to strengthen Siemens’ AI offerings, moving beyond just running Siemens’ software on Azure, and instead committing to comprehensive co-development of solutions. This further develops Siemens’ position in the AI space building on the company’s earlier announcement this year around its partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS), where the two vendors have integrated AWS Bedrock and Siemens’ low/no-code platform, Mendix, to democratize and simplify AI application development. Unlike AWS, the new Microsoft partnership allows Siemens to host applications that are run on Azure (i.e., Teamcenter X hosted by Siemens available on Azure versus Teamcenter X hosted by AWS).

Partnership highlights continued with Sony, which showcased the Extended Reality (XR) headset announced at CES 2024 and debuted at Hannover Messe that is specially designed to support NX users and enable operators to increasingly utilize immersive engineering solutions. Key differentiators were the precision controller hardware, the headset’s high level of fidelity, and the fact the headset is constructed for engineers, rather than being made for the consumer market and then repurposed. Realize LIVE served to demonstrate the art of the possible for immersive solutions with several main stage demos, including a FREYR Battery factory flythrough. However, with this primary demonstration now being over a year old, new case studies would be highly valuable for the company to cement its position as a leader in this new solution market.

Are SMBs the Next Frontier?


Adapting solutions to serve Small and Medium Business (SMB) manufacturers has been a consistent trend for many vendors over the last year or so, as many companies are now seeing the untapped value of this market alongside a healthy enterprise-grade deployment base. Technology vendors must take note of the importance of these manufacturers and adjust their GTM strategies to meet the needs of smaller manufacturers, whose solution requirements and buying strategies are very different from enterprise-grade companies, or risk ceding market share to solution providers with more flexible portfolios. Smaller manufacturers will need to carefully evaluate the solution packages offered by these enterprise-grade vendors to ensure that the solutions are designed for their needs and not just being paid lip service, engaging in their own form of scaled down Requests for Proposal (RFPs).

Siemens is striving to meet the need for these easy to deploy and scalable solutions with its Teamcenter X, Opcenter X, NX X, ZEL X, and Simcenter X offerings, with these service cloud platforms allowing manufacturers to rapidly access Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)-based Produce Lifecycle Management (PLM), MES, Computer-Aided Design (CAD), engineering platform, and simulation software. These solutions come with simplified pricing models (essentials to premium) and are designed to allow easy expansion of new functionality, enabling SMB manufacturers to rightsize their deployments, meeting companies where they are, rather than trying to force the use of a given solution set that is beyond plant requirements. The growth of Mendix as an integrated value proposition with Xcelerator is not only a notable differentiator for Siemens’ solutions, but also helps support Siemens’ move toward easing the democratization of technology among manufacturers, with generalists and Operational Technology (OT) operators able to align with Information Technology (IT) teams to build fit-for-purpose applications and simplify the deployment of new solutions with easy-to-use low/no-code capabilities.

In sum, Realize LIVE served to demonstrate Siemens’ consistent commitment to growing its footprint in the U.S. industrial market. This is a market that the company is well positioned to support, but does face stiff competition from regional powerhouses across both hardware and software such as Rockwell Automation, Emerson, PTC, Honeywell, and GE Vernova. These companies have significant legacy customer bases and strong regional GTM strategies that will require Siemens to adapt to effectively displace, with the German GTM model far less effective in the United States.