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Interview with Klaus Helmrich, Member of the Board at Siemens AG

Picture of Klaus Helmrich, Member of the Board, Siemens AG

Klaus Helmrich, Member of the Board at Siemens AG and Chair of the Digitalization Taskforce, on the challenges and opportunities of digitalization, and why the B20/G20 is the ideal forum to address these.

Digitalization is changing our economies. In your view: What are the greatest opportunities and greatest challenges?

Digitalization is a global topic – and consequently an industrial topic. The challenges being faced are very similar around the world and in different branches: New products must be brought to market in ever-shorter timeframes; the individualization of products and quickly changing markets requires increased flexibility and the ongoing wish for efficiency improvement demands shorter development times or savings in resources and energy. On the other hand digitalization – especially of manufacturing – offers great opportunities: Today we are able to represent the entire value chain digitally – from development of a product to production and service. And we are able to develop new business models by extracting “smart data” from the collected “big data”. We have the technologies; we’re beginning to implement it – the revolution starts now.


What motivated you to become the chair of the Taskforce Digitalization of B20 Germany?

Siemens is engaged in initiatives for the future of manufacturing, like “Industrie 4.0” right from the beginning. It is very important for us to pull together with our suppliers, partners and customers; for example working together in questions of standardization or implementing new technologies. Germany is known for its leading industries, “Made in Germany” is a strong brand. So, we very much welcomed the fact that for the first time a B20 taskforce will focus on digitalization. Therefore Siemens will be very pleased to take an active part in it. And I personally feel much honored to be in the chair.


Siemens is a world leader in Industrie 4.0. What is the secret of your success?

Our primary focus is on customer requirements. From these requirements Siemens developed a holistic approach to the integration of its customers’ value chains that includes seamless technical data interchange with their supplier networks. In future, no part of the value creation process will be able to exist without its own digital map. This begins with ideas concerning the potential product, continues with the engineering of the product, its production, its commissioning and its use, and goes as far as new services offered in conjunction with the product. This integration of the value creation chain is only possible by means of digitalization. With our Digital Enterprise portfolio Siemens offers a comprehensive portfolio that we’ve been building up for more than 15 years. This unique offering covers all requirements of the industrial value chain and helps our customers to use all the benefits of digitalization for their businesses successfully.


Digitalization will play an important role also in the German G20. What policy action would you like the G20 countries to agree on?

The digital transformation requires new forms of cooperation. Cooperation at all levels – between companies, industries and institutions. And it also needs cooperation across national borders and across the respective emerging digital platforms. No one company, no one country, no one government will be able to master the complexities of digital transformation alone. So we would ask the G20 countries to forge ahead with their support of initiatives like “Industrie 4.0”. Such initiatives can be fully realized only when the G20 nations bundle, share and exploit their respective strengths, experience and expertise. And we would like them to further engage in the establishment of global industry standards for interoperability. Without them, for example cross-country and cross-company value chains can’t be achieved.

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