Siemens highlights role of business in society at 2019 Pacific Summit

Tuesday, June 25, 2019 12:20 pm EDT

The Pacific Summit in San Francisco focuses on the major political, economic, cultural and social trends shaping the world and the Pacific region. And in his keynote speech Friday, Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser cited a force redefining the roles of government and business: a Fourth Industrial Revolution that’s bringing infrastructure online.

The internet and digital technology have changed consumer lives in countless ways. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is now bringing this same level connectivity to factories and cities – to the physical world writ large. It’s a revolution marked by a flood of new digital technologies, by ever-present global connectivity and by value chains that transcend national boundaries. Established geopolitical orders are shifting in ways that defy predictions, and governmental responses to these changes can be constrained by borders and national views.

It’s up to companies, Kaeser says, to hold the world together by executing a business model focused on the needs of society.

In a TIME op-ed, Kaeser highlighted the need for companies to invest in human capital, pointing out that the Fourth Industrial Revolution will in some cases “cut out the middle man.” As some tasks are taken over by technology, new opportunities will be created that require different skillsets. Which is why Siemens now annually invests $600 million globally – including $50 million annually in America – in employee training programs.

And in an interview with Bloomberg News prior to the event, Kaeser also shared his view that the only way to look at geopolitics and geoeconomics in a long-term, meaningful manner is to localize innovation and production. In the United States, Siemens’ largest market, the company has more than 50,000 employees in all 50 states, invests $1.4 billion in R&D and exports $5 billion worth of goods annually.  

Michael Cahill, President of Siemens Mobility’s Rolling Stock business for North America, echoed Kaeser’s comments while moderating a session about the future of transportation. At its solar-powered manufacturing plant in Sacramento, Siemens Mobility produces American locomotives, passenger cars and approximately a third of all light rail vehicles across the United States. Today Siemens Mobility is also representative of the company’s reinvention into a top-10 global software company as the team drives data-driven solutions improving urban transportation.

“Siemens Mobility envisions cities that integrate modes of transportation, from car or bicycle sharing to diverse fleets of public vehicles,” Cahill says. “This integrated approach will enable economically viable, competitive and attractive ways to drive toward the goals of connectivity, accessibility and adaptability.” 

Siemens has been active in Silicon Valley since the 1960s and is deeply engaged within the current ecosystem. The company sees the mix of Silicon Valley entrepreneurship and Siemens software capability as a recipe for co-creating the technology needed to solve the world’s greatest challenges.

From climate change to urbanization, from advancing healthcare technology to increasing access to sustainable, reliable electricity, Siemens is focused on making a positive impact on people, places and local economies.

“Sometimes I think we’ve lost sight of the moral responsibility of business to serve the common good,” Kaeser says. “A business that doesn’t do that should not exist. And as the CEO of a global company, I can verify that serving society is a purpose that inspires people. I can also verify that it’s good for business.”

Multimedia

All Other Multimedia: 
Preview image