The American industrial giant is sprinting towards its goal. The German firm is taking a more deliberate approach
Large companies like GE and Siemens are taking a leaf out of Startup’s playbooks
Siemens’s digital transformation appears to be going more slowly (although that may be partly because its managers are less vocal about the firm’s achievements). Its primary focus is still on software tailored to industry verticals, such as health care and manufacturing, rather than on a horizontal platform to fit all sectors. Only recently did it begin marketing MindSphere, its equivalent to Predix, more intensively. “Our customers live in worlds that are very different from each other,” explains Horst Kayser, the firm’s head of strategy. Siemens is also keen not to displease an important group of customers: machine-tool makers that use components from Siemens. They want to maintain direct relationships with their own industrial customers, not have them interacting through a platform like MindSphere.
“GE is changing its culture in other ways, too. As an industrial conglomerate, the firm was known for its near-obsession with the Six Sigma management method. This uses statistics and incremental improvements to drive everything a company does close to perfection. Now GE wants workers to take a leaf from the world of startups and start making mistakes—an approach it is calling “FastWorks”. The idea is to experiment more and to develop so-called minimum viable products that can be discarded quickly if they fail to take off.”
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