Thought Leadership

Top Thought Leadership topics of 2017

By ToniB

I’d like to take a moment to reflect on how much the Thought Leadership blog has grown since last year’s launch and to extend my thanks to you, our readers. Your continued support has helped the blog find so much success. I appreciate you taking the time to follow our Thought Leaders and to share your ideas about how we can continue having these conversations on the blog.

One advantage I have as the editor-in-chief is that I regularly see the fantastic work my colleagues do for Siemens PLM Software’s customers. My colleagues keep customers informed about the challenges that lie ahead as markets keep evolving, but they also ensure customers have the right tools so their businesses survive and thrive in these challenges. It’s been a delight to learn what they’re doing for customers to make success possible.

Now for the big reveal. Throughout the year, I’ve monitored reader responses on the blog on social media to see which posts and topics were most popular. These are the top five Thought Leadership topics of 2017.

#5: Digital Shipyard Thought Leadership 

Shipbuilding technology faces major challenges as shipbuilders must build ships faster and more efficiently for less money. To meet these demands, shipbuilders are increasingly turning toward the benefits of Industry 4.0’s connectivity.

In his series about digital shipyards, Tim Nichols examines how shipbuilders are moving from outdated methods to smart production, and also how digitalization and the digital twin fit into these new processes. He highlights how a truly digitalized shipyard will lead to optimal ship performance and give shipbuilders a head start for modernizing future fleets. Tim has done a nice job of using his experience and connections to discuss what’s happening in the marine industry.

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#4: Virtual Commissioning Thought Leadership 

Manufacturers can only innovate products so much before their products are virtually the same as everyone else’s. To get ahead of the competition, they must also innovate their processes, and do so through virtual commissioning.

Virtual commissioning involves using a digital model to validate a device for its intended use in the context of its operational environment. In his series on virtual commissioning’s role in future-proofing businesses, Nezih Yaramanoglu looks at how virtual commissioning can improve manufacturing quality so you create responsive, adaptive processes that can withstand future challenges. He also used examples to discuss how virtual commissioning can be used during the design phase and during the production process. Nezih’s ability to take a complicated concept and explain it through thought-provoking stories really connected with readers this year, and I can’t wait to see how he’ll continue.

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#3: Engineering Skills Thought Leadership 

The academic side of Thought Leadership is new to the blog this year, but it’s resonated well with readers wondering how academia can best prepare students for the challenges digital technology brings to the job market.

Dora Smith begins by looking at why the engineering skills gap is so troubling and what’s causing the gap to grow, not shrink. She also looks at the role universities play in the skills gap and how reevaluating current engineering curriculum is crucial to reversing the trend so graduates have the skills and real-world experience they need for jobs in a digitalized future.

Dora also summarized recent research about how manufacturers see the skills gap affecting their current and future business, and she took the opportunity to write something for students looking for more experience from engineering competitions. She’s done a great job using her experience to look at the skills gap from multiple perspectives and offer reasonable proposals to shrink it.

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#2: Industry 4.0 Thought Leadership

We’re moving into a new manufacturing era where the very idea of manufacturing is changing. As machines and products communicate with each other, products themselves know how to be made – and all of this is done with high accuracy, faster than was ever previously possible.

Industry 4.0 was a popular topic last year due in large part to Alastair Orchard’s ability to relate the new Industrial Revolution directly to readers’ businesses. His video on Industry 4.0 and the digital enterprise continues to gain substantial views. This year, he took that relationship further.

He looked at how Industry 4.0 manufacturing must include essential capabilities to retain success. He gave an overview of the role the Internet of Things plays in Industry 4.0, and he explained how adaptive, responsive networks will be key for manufacturers to find success. Alastair finished the year by telling a fascinating story of how algorithms are revolutionizing the way products are manufactured, highlighting a real-world application of Industry 4.0 concepts.

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#1: Digital Twin Thought Leadership 

If you’ve been following our blog this year, the digital twin’s popularity should come as no surprise. Readers want to learn about how the digital twin adds value to their business and how the ability to virtually predict what will physically happen with their products, performance and production processes can put them ahead of the competition.

There have been multiple contributors to the topic, thanks to the desire readers have expressed to learn more about how the digital twin works in practice. Readers consistently click through content highlighting how digital twin technology is transforming multiple industries, the value of the digital twin for industrial companies, how the digital twin enables smart factories and how the digital thread is taking the digital twin to the next level. There has also been a video series highlighting how companies see the digital twin forcing change to design, strategy and much more.

We should expect to see curiosity about the digital twin grow even more next year. Companies know that when it’s fully integrated into their business and manufacturing processes, the digital twin will get better products to the market faster than the competition.

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Honorable mentions: Cars of the Future and Production Systems Engineering Thought Leadership

These topics just missed making the top 5, but they had quite a few combined page views on our blog, as well as consistent social media engagement. 

Tell us: Which Thought Leadership topic did you enjoy learning about most this year? 

About the author
Toni Boger is the editor-in-chief of Digital Transformations, the Thought Leadership blog for Siemens PLM Software. As the content strategist for the Siemens PLM Thought Leadership program, she oversees the content creation, management, publication and promotion for all content in the program. She graduated from Saginaw Valley State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication and English. Prior to joining Siemens, Toni worked as an associate site editor for TechTarget, a technology media company. 

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