AWS Cloud Enterprise Strategy Blog

Ahead in the Cloud: Peter Loeffler of Siemens

Welcome to the second installment of our series “Ahead in the Cloud,” where we interview leaders of IT transformation about what drives them and how they think about their roles. This installment features Peter Loeffler, VP of Innovation and Industry Affairs at Siemens Switzerland Ltd.

If you want to hear more about how Siemens is using IoT to automate factory floors and production lines, register here for our IoT webinar on 11th July 2018. Our speakers Bill Boswell, Siemens VP of Marketing and Doug Bellin, AWS Industry Solutions Manager, will discuss popular use cases, best practices and offerings for industrial IoT offered by Amazon Web Services and Siemens.

Mark

By the way, if you missed our earlier post in this series, check out the interview with Alpna J. Doshi of Philips here.

 


 

What’s the coolest thing you’re working on?

There is no doubt, it’s the “Digital Twin for Buildings”. This refers to a machine readable single source of information for all structural and asset data in commercial buildings. Making the digital twin concept available for the commercial construction industry will be a big step towards more efficiency in planning, engineering, commissioning and operation of buildings.

Where do you see yourself in 3 years?

Hm. I’m pushing on my sixties. So in three years maybe I’m touring the United States with a truck and a fifth wheel trailer. Maybe I’ll be working on the next level of improvement for building technologies. Or as Mark Twain phrased it: “Prediction is difficult – particularly when it involves the future”.

Share someone who has been a mentor to you along the way, and the best lesson you learned from them.

I believe it wouldn’t be appropriate to name people, especially because I think it’s also important to learn from failures or “not the best” lessons. I learned two things from former bosses: “be yourself” and “do a job that you enjoy”. Today I can see a lot of young managers who take every opportunity they can to climb up the career ladder. Personally, I believe they will rarely become good managers or – even more important – good entrepreneurs. If your heart isn’t in what you do and what you are responsible for, you’ll fail.

What’s your favorite Amazon leadership principle and why?

Ownership. I started my business life 35 years ago as freelancer and later was co-owner of a small software consulting company before I joined Siemens. That was all about ownership. And meanwhile ownership became a huge topic in large companies, too. Something I’m very happy about. Without ownership you’ll remain a manager your whole life; never becoming an entrepreneur.

How do you learn about new technology and its potential impact on your business?

One side of the coin is learning, which in my case means reading the right articles, talking to the right people and visiting the right conferences. The other side is experience. That’s more the evaluation of business impact. I worked in a lot of different technology areas from commercial IT to MES systems in the metals and paper industry and from security systems to building management systems. But everything was always related to information technology. Within 35 years you gain a lot of experience. And many of my decisions about early technologies came from a gut feeling and instinct.

How do you decide on where to prioritize your technology investments?

Unfortunately there is no easy answer to that question. There are so many boundary conditions. How well does it fit to the company strategy? Is there still a lot of basic research to do? Are we talking about a basic technology that could be a game changer? Is it “me too” or “must have” in our industry? Those decisions are a mixture from in depth evaluation, broad feedback from other stakeholders, in-depth discussions with peers and as mentioned before, simply a gut feeling.

How do you think about the organizational impacts of adopting new types of technologies?

Organization follows strategy, it is neither an exact science, nor a value per se. Thus changes are necessary and unavoidable. Certainly, it is always a challenge to change an organization, especially when it involves negative consequences for people. But technology and markets keep changing and this will keep changing organizations and how they are organized. I think it’s important to be open and honest and give everyone a chance to adapt. If we take cloud technologies as an example: it has a big influence on the daily work of the IT people, changing roles. Some roles will simply disappear and new roles will develop. So early qualification for new roles should be given in a company.

What’s the most interesting thing on your desk right now?

Bringing the digital twin to life on MindSphere, Siemens’ IoT operating system, and thus bringing the benefits of industrial IoT to the building industry.

What does your morning routine look like?

When I’m not travelling it’s easy: cursing the alarm clock, getting up, opening all windows, taking my shower, getting dressed and walking 20 minutes to the company (YES, I can WALK to my office. That’s one of the biggest gifts you can get these days). Here I get my first cup of tea, make my round through the office and take the time to talk to my employees and then check the most important mails. My assistant knows that meetings shouldn’t start before 9am.

What are your top 3 book recommendations (personal or professional)?

Who owns the future, Jaron Lanier, makes you rethink about the “brave new world” we are facing The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams, just fun, although my experience is that: “The answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything” is not always 42. Harry Potter, Joanne K. Rowling, for me one of the best examples of human imagination and creativity

What’s your favorite failure?

Failure?? How do you spell that?