Tell us about dSPACE business development – both in 2019 and currently
Martin Goetzeler: 2019 was a good year for dSPACE. We grew our worldwide sales by 11 percent. Therefore, we were able to increase our investments into research and development. Our new strength grew organically, but we also invested in technology and mergers and acquisitions (M&A). In the last two years alone, we grew our team by around 400 employees to a total of 1,800. More than 1,400 of our employees are engineers and computer scientists. The effects of the pandemic are not yet foreseeable for the current year. We see reluctance on the part of our customers. Costs and projects are under scrutiny. We have to continue monitoring this development. However, there are also many important product launches that we want to become a success. To provide our customers with the best possible support, we accompany them closely during implementation. We also make sure that we are able to deliver and work consistently on the continuous development of our portfolio. We have the means and the will to do so.
How does dSPACE manage to maintain operations in times of the pandemic?
Martin Goetzeler: A key measure was the immediate introduction of more flexible working conditions. For a while, more than 80% of our workforce was working from home. Communication is very important, which is why we are providing our employees with a regular update on developments in the company as we continuously reassess the overall situation. We are currently working on effectively taking advantage of many new opportunities offered by the new reality of working.
How are you adjusting to the current radical changes in technology?
Martin Goetzeler: Mobility trends such as connectivity, autonomous driving or new mobility services, naturally have a significant impact on development and validation. Software is the key component in the digitalized and intelligent vehicle. Vehicles are ‘mobile devices on wheels’. For our customers, this means not only applying the agile development methods that are established in the IT sector, but also adopting the data-driven development and validation of the AI-based functions of an autonomous vehicle. Additionally, comprehensive expertise in cloud computing is required to handle the resulting data volumes. Most companies have set up their own divisions or even new companies with their own culture to meet these challenges.
However, there are other mobility trends that also require new ways of thinking. For example, electric mobility is based on a new ecosystem. After all, we are not only dealing with a new vehicle technology, such as batteries or power electronics. We also must redefine the infrastructure and information systems, as well as service and maintenance. Even though the electrification of the powertrain is based on tried and tested methods, especially model-based development, the building blocks must be integrated, developed, and tested in the ecosystem using software.
The greatest challenge with all trends is to make complexity manageable and break new ground in the process. dSPACE is contributing to this.
How will dSPACE contribute?
Martin Goetzeler: We have reviewed our strategy in light of the challenges and complexity. The result: A new dSPACE. Today, we offer our customers a comprehensive validation solution that features the right architecture for model- and data-based development, software and hardware simulations, and our integrated, scalable tool chain. With this end-to-end solution, we enable customers to benefit from efficient processes and structures, short time-to-market, and cost optimization. We have been working on this for the past two years, and partially have had to reinvent ourselves.
Our strengths are prototyping, hardware-in-the-loop testing, and embedded software development, as well as bus systems – where we have been working on innovation projects with key customers for many years. Together, they form an important basis for our work. Our software-in-the-loop solutions are also essential components of our end-to-end solution. Yet, there was still room for improvement.
We have, therefore, drastically improved our competencies in the areas of software simulation, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence (AI). Developing AI competencies has two dimensions for us. On the one hand, we bring our tools to a level that they can optimally handle the requirements of our customers‘ neural networks. On the other hand, AI helps us become more efficient. Highly automated annotation, for example, is made possible only by artificial intelligence.
We have now bundled our software activities into a separate business unit. In this unit, we integrate data-driven simulation and validation solutions, as well as our expertise in software coding, test automation, and data management. This means that we speak the language of many of our new customer contacts and can respond flexibly and quickly to their requirements. We also ensure that we can provide our customers with ideal support by means of agile development methods and interdisciplinary teams. This makes us a competent partner for everything related to software development in the vehicle.
Something that is really important to me during the restructuring of the company: Our traditional business with test solutions and our software business are of central importance, both individually and in combination. We are strengthening both areas to tackle complexity.
Go to the next page to learn how dSPACE intends to provide the complete solution chain, read about the importance of electromobility for the company, the major technical challenges it faces, and how dSPACE is moving forward.