By: Kathryn Gerardino-Elagio
Times of crisis have historically driven innovation. We often talk about the role of innovation in an age of constant, radical disruption, as defined by the 4th industrial revolution. But what is the value of innovation at this time of Pandemic?
Alex Teo, Managing Director and Vice President of Siemens Digital Industries Software for South East Asia called this pandemic, Supercycle, in terms of disruption, during a virtual media briefing with International Metalworking News for Asia.
Alex Teo, Managing Director and Vice President
"Although the pandemic has brought about massive changes, the fact is that we have been facing constant disruption for the last few years. An example was the emergence of the Internet and consequently, the digitalisation of things. For Alex, these disruptions have actually helped customers and manufacturers to rethink their strategy, which cannot always be the same anymore," he stated.
This pandemic has been a catalyst for business change, Alex further stated. "Transformation today is not just an afterthought. They have to think about this because this is an ability. Without transformation, they won't survive, and in every crisis, there is always an opportunity to leverage," he expressed.
Siemen's Xcelerator Portfolio
But in this new normal, where there are winners, there are also losers. So what happens when a manufacturer is experiencing a time of crisis? What role do innovation leaders, like Siemens play, and how can their solutions drive value in a period where an organisation is in distress?
During the online briefing, Alex asked one question – what was it that allowed companies to transform so rapidly and effectively? For him, what they typically have in common, along with other organisations that have been able to adapt during these times, is a digital mindset.
With that, Alex presented Siemen's Xcelerator Portfolio, which brings together and integrates the entire Siemens Digital Industries Software portfolio with embedded tools and databases connecting current and future information technology, operational technology and engineering technology environments.
The Xcelerator portfolio helps companies of all sizes create and leverage digital twins that provide organisations with new insights, opportunities and levels of automation to drive innovation.
He defined the portfolio as the catalyst for the digital enterprise to deliver the next-level digital transformation for customers. "We give them this catalyst and the tools in order for them to implement all these different transformations. They can even unlock much more powerful industry network effects within their digital enterprise," added Alex.
For innovation leaders, a time of crisis can be an existential threat to ones efforts, or a real opportunity to create value and define solutions to help a company effectively navigate the rough terrain.
Here are some manufacturing outlooks Alex is expecting in the next few month: 1) There is a high bounce-back-ability of SEA manufacturing due to key drivers powering recovery. 2) The SEA region has a rich demography attractive to global businesses. 3) There are regional trade agreements driving proliferation of manufacturing. 4) The manufacturing industry has an enhanced technological infrastructure and accelerated adoption of Industry 4.0 technology. 5) Pandemic-induced diversification of supply chain. 6) Quality industrial supply and consists of attractive production advantages.
According to him, key technologies powering growth for the coming year include: Digital Twins; Big data and IoT; Analytics, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, Smart Automation; Additive Manufacturing; and Human-centered Innovation.
"Closer to home, manufacturing is poised to lead post-pandemic recovery in Singapore, with strong demands driven by the semiconductors, pharmaceuticals and medical technology industry. Singapore's factory output soared 24.2% year on year in September, led by pharmaceutical output rising 113.6%," Alex added.
Value of innovation at a time of crisis
During a crisis, every industry or organisation bring their most creative and solution-oriented ideas to market in record time.
Alex mentioned, “If we look at history, whenever there is a crisis or disaster, there is always competition that breeds innovation. Many big companies were established during the years of economic depressions and recessions. There was also a drive towards innovation in the jet engine, pressurised cabins and radar technology in World War II, which were eventually leveraged in the commercial world, even up until today.”
He also brought up the Apollo 13 mission incident, which led NASA to utilise what we call a digital twin. "Today, we don't have to use the exact replica or digital replica anymore. We are using a digital twin to fix manufacturing problems and foresee manufacturing issues," Alex added.
Companies are able to step up and innovate in times of crises. A crisis situation offers the chance to focus all the innovation and creativity toward a very real problem. COVID-19 has left businesses globally grappling with disrupted supply lines, closing economies and the world's largest remote working experiment – all at the same time. For many manufacturers, social distancing and city-wide lockdowns meant shutting down temporarily, while weakening global demand could mean permanent closure for some.
Turning innovation and creativity into action is essential during this time of uncertainty. The silver lining in all of this is that people become both more open minded and efficient. Today's conditions are perfect for centring humans in the middle of all this innovation and technologies.
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