A digital transformation trailblazer in the High-Tech industry

By Neno
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By Olivier RIBET, VP, High-Tech Industry

Ever since the world discovered the first smartphone in 1992 (remember Simon?) the world has experienced 20 years of technology breakthroughs that have transformed the very nature of communications and exchanges. Mobile devices are proliferating at a dizzying pace enabling billions of people to interact with one other and with data in general. Machines communicate with other machines in the fast-growing age of the Internet of Things (IoT). The Cloud enables people and businesses to access shared resources, data and services on-demand, avoiding upfront IT investments, scaling up and down their information system. This hyper-connectivity is revolutionizing the way we work, play, shop, take the bus, plan a vacation, drive a car, entertain ourselves, eat, …. The implications are simply mind-boggling.

A hyper-connected world creates new opportunities to solve some of man’s biggest challenges:

  • Growing urban populations require solutions to address life quality issues such as traffic management, environmentally-friendly constructions, intelligent mobility solutions, security,
  • Provide connectivity solutions for developing countries to aid in their progress,
  • Bring globally dispersed businesses closer together through efficient networking,
  • Reduce raw material consumption, waste and obsolescence of products.

A society to reach one’s full potential

Swedish telecom giant, Ericsson, calls this the Networked Society where communication technologies create new possibilities and behaviors that empower people to reach their full potential. At the core of the Networked Society is a transformation of the way we interact with the world and the world with us. Information and communication technologies (ICT) developed by Ericsson are a driving force in this hyper-connected age. Consider some interesting facts:

  • 40% of all mobile traffic in the world uses networks supplied by Ericsson,
  • 5 billion mobile subscribers are supported by Ericsson,
  • Ericsson has 39,000 patents (it invented Bluetooth by the way).

Yet as technologies progress so do society’s needs, giving rise to newer technologies. Businesses at every level are feeling the pressure of the digital disruption brought on by 5G, IoT and the Cloud pushing them to implement the necessary transformations in their companies to satisfy the world’s rapidly changing demands.

ICT providers like Ericsson are facing stiff competition to develop and deliver products and services at such an accelerated pace. Moreover, the fact that mobile systems are governed by global standards (developed by Ericsson and the telecom industry together) forces product functionality to meet the standards. Plus, at the core of their innovation process, they need to continuously leverage the potential of their globally-dispersed teams, manage rich product portfolios, drive open innovation on a large scale, while securing Intellectual Property.

Carving the path to the telco industry’s digital transformation

After an extensive period comparing and benchmarking thoroughly major PLM and IT vendors on the market, evaluating their products and the companies themselves from all angles, Ericsson decided to take its industry’s lead with an ambitious and comprehensive digital transformation of its activities – internally and in the way it interacts with its ecosystem. Every company process will be impacted by this transformation – R&D, marketing, purchasing, sales, administration, as well as supplier and partner relationship management.

To drive this transformation, Ericsson is intensifying its partnership with Dassault Systèmes by adopting the 3DEXPERIENCE platform and the Business Operation Excellence industry solution experience as the company’s product data foundation. This will replace its existing mainframe environment and disparate legacy solutions. The 3DEXPERIENCE platform will deliver and manage end-to-end digital continuity across all functions at Ericsson.

“We are talking about a business transformation,” said Joakim Cerwall, PLM sponsor and head of PLCM operations at Ericsson. “What we are trying to do is create an end-to-end digital thread and the choice of Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform on the PLM side is a reflection of this.”

“We’re dealing with a core process of Ericsson,” Johan Torstensson, Ericsson CIO added. “We can’t bet on new technology that doesn’t work. We looked at many cases where companies are using this platform; references have been essential.”

30 min video, featuring Johan Torstensson outlines the strategic choice for the strong partnership. This breakthrough decision will deliver numerous benefits for both sides:

  • Ericsson reduces its costs as legacy software is more expensive to maintain and upgrade,
  • Ericsson gains in efficiency and data continuity since everyone works with the same tools,
  • Ericsson benefits from a unified, digital environment that enables easy and secure access to hardware, software, and service information from anywhere and at any time improving transparency, traceability, reporting, and collaborative innovation,
  • Dassault Systèmes wins a major service reference in the telco industry that will showcase the power of its 3DEXPERIENCE platform to deliver ambitious and sustainable change.

Big bang

Ericsson’s transformation will be a phased process with an initial milestone slated for July 2017. This is when 25,000 R&D employees will switch from the old system to the 3DEXPERIENCE platform. Following what Ericsson calls this “big bang”, the company will progressively give access to a large part of its employees -technical and non-technical people – for a total of nearly 60 000 employees worldwide. Ericsson expects to profit primarily from IT savings in the first year with big business savings and improved efficiencies down the line in year two, three and four. This is when the telco giant expects to obtain the most value from its investment thanks to a more streamlined development process.

Dassault Systèmes will take the lead in implementing Ericsson’s transformation, supported by IBM as services integrator. We are proud to accompany Ericsson in this journey and to partner with the company in its digital transformation, which will allow it to leverage the surge in the world’s IoT data traffic and machine-to-machine communications. It’s all about providing the world with more compelling and engaging experiences. With Dassault Systèmes’ technologies, new solutions can be invented to make our cities and devices smarter, manufacturing more efficient and social networking more fluid. It is inspirational to see companies like Ericsson question the old way of doing things by digitally transforming its processes to face the challenges that lie ahead in this age of experience.

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Fashionably Connected

By Catherine
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By Catherine Bolgar

cutecircuit_the_nieves_dress_and_handbag_2

What if you could have a different dress to wear every day, without having a closet full of clothes? It’s already possible, thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT).

“Everything around us is digital. Why shouldn’t our clothes be digital as well?” asks Francesca Rosella, creative director and co-founder of CuteCircuit, a London-based digital fashion house. “In the near future, we predict that many devices will disappear and their functionality will be integrated in our clothes. Everything will be on the body.”

CuteCircuit started in 2004 with the “Hug Shirt.” A person wearing a Hug Shirt gives herself a squeeze. Sensors in the fabric detect the position, strength and duration of the touch. The data goes to the person’s phone to be sent to a friend. When the friend accepts the message, actuators in her own Hug Shirt will warm up and create the sensation that the sender’s arms are wrapped around the recipient.

Over the years, CuteCircuit has designed many collections: specialty products, haute couture and ready-to-wear. Several celebrities have worn the haute couture on the red carpet and onstage, including a skirt that displays a video of a tiger roaring.

The clothes use “Magic Fabric, developed by CuteCircuit, that can change color,” Ms. Rosella says.

The fabric can display anything as if it were your TV screen, but a soft fabric TV screen.”

cutecircuit_handbag_2Fabric—mostly silk because of its durability, but also cotton and cotton elastane—is fused with a layer of sensors or micro LEDs, and textile-conductive connectors that eliminate the need for wires. “They’re little nylon ribbons woven with gold and silver fibers,” she explains. “We don’t want anything dangerous in contact with the skin, so we coat it all with gold.”

Another layer of fabric is fused on top of the electronics layer, so the wearer feels only the soft fabric like a normal piece of clothing. The garments can be dry-cleaned or machine-washed at 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) and hung to dry. All the garments can be recharged via USB, and the small batteries snap directly into the garment with buttons.

cutecircuit_the_nieves_dress_2Ms. Rosella hopes CuteCircuit can lead a revolution against fast fashion. “Fashion shouldn’t be overconsumption of resources,” she says. “We only manufacture a certain amount, but with beautiful fabrics that last a long time. So you have one garment but can download many animations. You can have the same garment for a long time, but it feels like new.”

For example, a T-shirt allows the wearer to change the message on its front as often as desired, via an application. “You can display messages from friends,” Ms. Rosella says. “Everybody loved the idea of tweeting to your clothes. Digital fashion is a new form of self-expresslon.”

Apparel brands are also using the Internet of Things in order to communicate with their customers as traditional lines of communication are being disrupted by subscription services, online marketplaces and new retail outfits. And many of these are not owned by the brand, says Julie Vargas, director, global market development, technology solutions, of the Retail Branding and Information Solutions (RBIS) business of Avery Dennison Corp., a Glendale, California, maker of labeling and packaging solutions. The RBIS business is a global leader in apparel and footwear branding, packaging, labeling and RFID solutions.

“In the future, the one component that stays at the center of attention is the product,” Ms. Vargas says.

A special tag on clothes gives each item a unique digital fingerprint. The consumer can connect to the cloud-based Janela Smart Products Platform to upload the clothes. “Today, the mobile device is how people are interacting, but we expect it to evolve,” Ms. Vargas says. “The core is the platform that can integrate with sensors today and those of tomorrow.”

The platform, launched in April, gives apparel brands the ability to connect directly with consumers, regardless of where the item was purchased. It can provide information about the product; the story behind it, such as which celebrities have worn it; or information from other consumers, such as product reviews or suggestions for styling the garment with other items. The brand also can send out messages if the consumer wants (the consumer maintains the ability to refuse). “When you’re in or near the store, you can connect to find out what content is unlocked, like digital artwork or videos,” Ms. Vargas says.

At the same time, the Janela platform gives consumers an opportunity to talk to the brand.

A consumer can provide a product review for other users, but could also offer one-to-one communication with the designers,” Ms. Vargas says. “You could say, ‘I love this garment, but it wish it had pockets,’ or something like that.”

Sensors with near-field communication technology often aren’t washable, so sensors need to be removed before washing. However, QR codes, fabric labels and heat-transfer labels launder well. “There are a lot of different places to put the connector and ways the connector can look,” she says.

Avery Dennison and CuteCircuit both have incorporated ways to encourage consumers to recycle garments, to offer more transparency about where materials are sourced from and to expand the story of each item as consumers seek meaning in their purchases.

 

Catherine Bolgar is a former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal Europe, now working as a freelance writer and editor with WSJ. Custom Studios in EMEA. For more from Catherine Bolgar, along with other industry experts, join the Future Realities discussion on LinkedIn.

Photos courtesy of CuteCircuit

 

 

Left brain, meet right brain

By Catherine
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By Catherine Bolgar

Three Jigsaw Puzzle Pieces on Table

When Louis Henry Sullivan said, “Form ever follows function,” he was talking about architecture of buildings. But today his 19th-century credo is cited in many other spheres where engineering and design interact, including technology and software.

The lines are blurring, though, so that in the future, engineering and design will be seamlessly integrated.

Good designers are engineers,” says Blade Kotelly, senior lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and vice president of design and consumer experience at Jibo Inc., which makes a social robot for the home. At the same time, customers are no longer as wowed by raw technology and they expect an easy, and aesthetic, user experience.

Design runs to the core of things,” he adds. “Large companies realize they’re being outdone by smaller companies that are putting design at the center of their thinking.”

Brainstorming Brainstorm Business People Design ConceptsThis design-thinking approach can be hard for engineers to understand, Mr. Kotelly says: “The beginning of the design process looks like very little is happening, because the designers are trying to get their brains around the problem fully. Before that, they ask whether the problem is even a good one to solve. Then they figure out what’s going to make the solution successful, then they begin the typical design process of research, prototyping, testing, iterating.”

Modular structures or open-source components that can be swapped in or out in a modular way reduce the risk of change, so “you can iterate faster,” he says.

“It’s important to think architecturally about the system—how it breaks out at the top level and the smaller and smaller components—to be able to observe technology as the landscape is changing,” Mr. Kotelly says.

The Internet of Things is making it possible to create systems as never before. However, we’re likely to soon stop talking about the IoT as it becomes the norm.

“It’s like plastics in the 1960s,” says Dirk Knemeyer, a founder of Involution Studios, a Boston-area software design studio. “The distinction of things being plastic was super-important. A couple of decades passed, and plastic things are just things.”

In the same way, “in the future, everything that is digital and many things that are not will be in the Internet of Things,” he says.

Systems require holistic thinking. And that requires integrated teams. “Getting to a successful integrated model that puts design in an appropriate strategic place can be challenging,” Mr. Knemeyer says. “It requires overcoming the biases and preconceptions of stakeholders who are already in place and who often have a skeptical view of design and creative expression as part of business. They also have existing fiefdoms they control, and fear that order might be upset by redesign of people and processes.”

Tearing down management silos provides a new problem-solving methodology and mindset that can augment the traditional perspectives, whether financial, operational or technological.

The engineering perspective is raw capability: what is the range of possibilities technology can do,” Mr. Knemeyer says. “Design says, ‘from these technologies, here are the things that can be done specific to the needs of customers.’”

Addressing customer needs is at the core of high-impact design, or design that brings a meaningful change in increasing revenues and reducing costs, he adds.

Business People Team Teamwork Working Meeting ConceptAt the same time, design thinking doesn’t just create efficiencies, but new ideas, says Mathias Kirchmer, managing director of BPM-D, a West Chester, Pennsylvania, consultancy that helps companies increase performance through cross-functional business and information-technology initiatives.

In the classic approach, a company starts mapping the processes it needs to accomplish, then optimizing so the processes will be carried out efficiently, then writing the actual software, then implementing or installing it. “It’s very inside-out driven,” Dr. Kirchmer says. “In today’s world, that’s a huge problem. First, it’s too slow. We need a faster approach. Second, the inside-out view doesn’t deliver results to drive profitable growth. It doesn’t improve the customer experience sufficiently. It’s good to be more efficient, but that doesn’t make enough of a difference for the client and move the organization to the next performance level.”

Companies compete in just 15% of their processes, he says. The rest is commodity—that is, matching competitors rather than differentiating beyond them. That high-impact 15% requires innovation enabled through design thinking.

Dr. Kirchmer sees four aspects of design thinking:

• empathy to look at high-impact processes from a customer point of view;
• transfer of ideas from unrelated fields to introduce innovation;
• storytelling to communicate the customer journey and intended innovations in a way that will resonate with all the involved teams;
• rapid prototyping to quickly get to the visual design of user interfaces and software development.

The melding of disciplines means that in the future, designers will need to be more knowledgeable about core science or core engineering. “The way science is moving is going to pull all of us into a more quantified scientific environment,” Mr. Knemeyer says.

 

Catherine Bolgar is a former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal Europe, now working as a freelance writer and editor with WSJ. Custom Studios in EMEA. For more from Catherine Bolgar, along with other industry experts, join the Future Realities discussion on LinkedIn.

Photos courtesy of iStock



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