How Switzerland’s innovation culture is powering advanced manufacturing
Fabienne Chevalier, Director of the Geneva Customer Innovation Centre at HPE Switzerland, and Anthony Palmieri, Chief Business Innovation Officer at HPE Switzerland, talk about the key components of Switzerland’s innovation landscape, and emerging trends in advanced manufacturing.
After the USA and Singapore, Switzerland is HPE's third IoT centre in the world. Why did you choose Switzerland as a location?
Fabienne Chevalier: The Hewlett Packard Enterprise Geneva Office hosts both the HPE Swiss team, focusing on Swiss customers and partners, and the HPE international team, which has global or regional activities. A part of the global team located in Geneva is the Customer Innovation Centre, where we host customers coming from all European countries for one to two days briefings, face to face or two to three hours virtually. During the sessions we present HPE products and solutions. So from a historical standpoint, HPE has a very long history in Switzerland. For instance, the building I am currently in has been built in 1968 and it was one of the very first HPE office overseas here in Europe. From a location standpoint, the Geneva office is very convenient because we are only 15 minutes far from the airport, making it very easy for our international customers to come and visit us.
How would you characterise Switzerland’s innovation landscape and how could it be improved to foster more innovation?
Anthony Palmieri: Switzerland is definitely one of the most innovative countries in the world, as shown by several rankings, such as the Global Innovation Index from the World Intellectual Property Organisation, which again ranked Switzerland in first place in its latest report. A thriving economy, political stability and a talented international workforce are key ingredients that help to explain the success of the Swiss innovation recipe. Switzerland's innovation is created by important corporations in powerful industries such as banking, healthcare and pharma or manufacturing. In addition, world-class academic institutions such as EPFL in Lausanne or ETH in Zurich provide great talent and work with the private sector to boost innovation. This, too, is an important aspect of Switzerland's success. One of the challenges remains to co-innovate while keeping data safe in a data sovereignty world. It is important to have a framework, and a clear framework where you can innovate while keeping your data safe. And this is what we are doing also in Switzerland with our customers: to help them in this data sovereignty challenge to protect their data and boost their innovation capabilities in a safe environment.
HPE was born as a start-up in Silicon Valley. Now, as a global tech leader, how do you work with early-stage start-ups?
Anthony Palmieri: In 1939, two friends called Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard created a company called Hewlett Packard. They did not know that they had just invented Silicon Valley, forming its first major tech company. More than 80 years later, we have not forgotten that we were one of the first start-ups in the world and we love to partner with start-ups in order to create disruptive solutions for our customers. From local - with our Swiss start-up programme – to global – with our corporate venture arm, HPE Pathfinder, we collaborate on a daily basis with start-ups and scaleups on matters ranging from business collaboration to targeted investments. Locally we partner with Swiss academic institutions to find the best start-ups in AI and IoT and we collaborate with them and also with private sector incubators like F10, for instance, from SIX Group in banking. From zero-default manufacturing to reinventing the 'phygital' customer experience in shops or even enabling enterprise blockchain, we partner with start-ups for real, and for good.
At your showroom you welcome manufacturing companies from Switzerland as well as from other European countries. What are the common challenges that your customers face?
Fabienne Chevalier: The conversation depends on the maturity of the project. At the very early stage we run more "awareness" discussions – it is about inspiring our customer. Or it can be a deeper dive conversation on dedicated solutions when the project is becoming more mature. Amongst all of those conversations, we can see common challenges. Challenges at the edge are due to the increasing complexity of the type of data and source of data that are being generated. On the cloud side, a large number of apps are still running outside the cloud, either to stay close to the data or for reasons of latency, dependency, or regulatory compliance. Therefore, enterprises have two divergent models in operation: one in the cloud, one on premise, and it costs them much more to maintain both. While enterprises generate and collect massive amounts of data, they are not bringing the data together to create timely insights and actions. Everything is shifting to ‘as-a-service’: customers want to consume IT ‘as a service’. Another trend in all the conversations is about security. That is a very important topic on how to connect securely from the edge to the cloud.
What emerging trends do you see in advanced manufacturing and in IoT?
Fabienne Chevalier: HPE's edge-to-cloud strategy is resonating with manufacturing customers. The edge brings computing capabilities to where the data is being generated. Artificial intelligence is also a key aspect of the conversation on bringing more automation and prediction capabilities. We are having a lot of conversations on smarter autonomous operations that ensure business continuity. Condition monitoring and prescriptive maintenance capabilities are concrete examples. The showroom we have here in Geneva allows us not only to talk about innovations but demonstrate them live, as well.
Anthony Palmieri: We are concretely helping companies in their manufacturing 4.0 transformation. One of the concrete examples we have is quality assurance. Traditionally, most of the companies are still getting an old way of analysing quality, mainly by human and eye contact. And this can lead to some issues in terms of quality. What we do is introduce technology into manufacturing. And how it works: basically, we are using IoT capabilities like an IoT camera where we are taking and capturing the data images that are transmitted into an edge server where, thanks to a machine learning algorithm, you are able to detect immediately if your product is of quality or if there is an issue. And then you can immediately correct the issue – that then increases the product quality, and you can significantly increase the quality of your products overall. You are then making your customers happier and, of course, you are able to significantly reduce your costs.
About Fabienne Chevalier
Fabienne is Director of the Geneva Customer Innovation centre and Global demo. Her organization designs, manages and facilitate executives briefing for customers and partners for solution exploration and well as product and technologies deep-dive sessions. Her team implements as well live innovative uses-cases leveraging HPE portfolio and partners solutions. These uses-cases are being leveraged during briefing and made available on the HPE Demo Portal.
About Anthony Palmieri
Anthony is Chief Business Innovation Officer for HPE in Switzerland, representing HPE Innovation among Swiss institutions, his focus is on creating business value in specific industries such as health, finance, manufacturing, retail or smart cities for HPE Customers. As leader of the Start-up Program in Switzerland, his goal with the team is to find the most relevant start-ups to work on business innovation topics and fitting with HPE Technologies & Services expertise for creating packaged and adapted business outcome-oriented solutions for HPE Customers.