The ballroom was a little dark, but I wanted to give a sense of a large, packed house.


Steve Sonnenberg, Emerson Vice President and Business Leader of Emerson Process Management, delivered the Emerson part of the keynotes this morning at Emerson Global Users Exchange 2010 to a packed ballroom with probably more than 3,000 in attendance. Reported registrations of end users, partners and the like total about 2,200. That is up from about 1,800 last year. Sonnenberg, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, produced a chart that showed Exchange as a leading indicator for the company’s business.

And speaking of business, Sonnenberg acknowledged coming through some tough economic times, but that company executives remain optimistic for the future. His first point of the talk was Focus Delivers Results. Emerson made many tough decisions in 2009 to weather the storm, but they helped keep the organization stable. 2010 is shaping up to be a good year, and the company is poised to go forward in 2011.

The company continued to invest during the downturn. Sonnenberg boasted having the largest research and development in the industry. R&D spending actually increased 4% in 2009 and 8% in 2010. Other investments were in acquisitions of Roxar, EIM, SI Industrial Instruments and epro. The Emerson Innovation Center in Marshalltown, Iowa gives the company industry leading ability to test valves and systems at high flow and pressure in larger pipe sizes than previously possible anywhere in the world.

In remarks that should give pause to those who think big companies cannot innovate, Sonnenberg took attendees through a list of technologies Emerson has championed over the years. The list begins with Hart, continues through Foundation Fieldbus, smart Safety Integrated Systems, Smart wireless, and then on to last year’s announcements of DeltaV I/O on demand, electronic marshalling and all the relevant technologies around Human Centered Design.

If focus gives clarity and intensity, collaboration creates purpose. A few years ago the industry was composed of product suppliers. But users said, “We need more.” So Emerson started building out global service centers, then started working more as a project partner as customers started building larger and more complex facilities. Even advances through Human Centered Design are contributing to advancing collaboration.

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