We often talk with our customers about their “grand challenges", trying to understand exactly what it is that keeps them up at night thinking: “if I could just _________, that would be a real game changer for my business!” Regardless of which industry they come from, their answers are often quite similar: The majority of these discussions relate to evaluating the performance of an entire system.
An uncomfortable truth about modern engineering is that there really are no easy problems left to solve. In order to meet the demands of industry, it's no longer good enough to do "a bit of CFD" or "some stress analysis". Complex industrial problems require solutions that span a multitude of physical phenomena, which often can only be solved using simulation techniques that cross several engineering disciplines.
What our customers are really asking for is the ability to "see the big picture". Simulating whole systems rather than just individual components, taking account of all of the factors that are likely to influence to performance of their product in its operational life. In short, to simulate the performance of their design in the context that it will actually be used.
In the past CFD was often described in terms of analogous experimental techniques such as "numerical wind tunnels" and "virtual towing tanks". Although this is a great way of explaining what you do for a living to a stranger at a party, these analogies no longer capture the entirety of the way that engineering simulation is used in industry today.