Karsten Gerloff

Karsten Gerloff
  • R&D Strategy, Siemens


Karsten works at Siemens Corporate Technology, where he is part of the Open Source governance team. He helps Siemens to engage with the global Free and Open Source Software community, and to use FOSS as a driver for making the company faster and more innovative. Before joining Siemens, Karsten served as the president of the Free Software Foundation Europe from 2009-2015.


Topic of Speech: “Shake It Up: FOSS as a Force for Culture Change”

Siemens is an industrial giant with a 175-year history. The company has survived by constantly changing itself to meet new challenges. A rapidly growing part of Siemens business relies on software, and today, that means FOSS. In-house software development needs to become much faster, and much more focused on features that drive customer value, rather than commodity components. How can Siemens adapt to the age of sharing and collaboration?

As a first step, business units that are accustomed to operating in isolation need to learn how to work together in the open. At the same time, the company’s software developers need the tools and processes to work efficiently with FOSS components.

We will discuss how the creation of an internal platform for software development and component management helps to drive this culture change. In practice, non-technical issues, such as questions about transfer pricing and export control, have proved more challenging to solve than technical problems. The greatest challenge, however, is building awareness for the importance, and the urgency, of moving to a more open, participatory culture.

We will look at how this approach is effective at driving change throughout the corporation, towards making engagement with the global FOSS community a routine matter for everyone at Siemens, and learning how to build business value from participating in FOSS. This talk will serve as an opportunity to exchange experiences and solutions with people supporting similar change programs at other companies. It will also provide an opportunity to align with key community actors and identify contributions that Siemens can make to the global FOSS community.


My Sessions