The 36th iteration of the Honeywell User Conference (HUG) kicked off yesterday with over 1,000 people in attendance. This is up significantly over the past couple of years–getting back to 2007 levels. And the energy in the demo room when I got there after lunch was also very high.

Honeywell Process Systems (HPS) President Norm Gilsdorf began by talking about being in the “business transformation” business. In a later private interview, he told me that he meant that HPS and its customers are moving beyond solutions to genuinely transforming their businesses.

To that end, he announced a reorganization at the top of HPS that will bring all the recent acquisitions into relevant groups with existing businesses and focus them on this transformative vision. One of the interesting points was when I asked about field devices–since that is one of the new groups. He admitted that with all the focus on acquisitions, investments in basic field instrumentation and devices had lagged. Remedying this will be a focus this year.

Gilsdorf’s four themes in his keynote were globalization, integration, collaboration and regulation. The first and last go without needing much more explanation. HPS is working with many partners including Microsoft and IBM, as well as other Honeywell divisions, to provide solutions more tightly coupled to the enterprise.

HPS is about finished with a total re-work of its Web site. Brian Chapman (my normal marketing contact) has been working on this for some time. It’s a clean and interesting look. Focus is on filtered search in areas that research showed customers and prospects expect to see.

Jason Urso, CTO, gave his usual fast-paced (I couldn’t write that fast) and polished presentation. Many of the new products and trends he discussed will come out later this year or into 2012. Suffice it to say that HPS has a lot of new technology and products in the pipeline. One that I’ll single out is what Urso called “game changing” three times in his presentation. That product is a gas detector that, combined with wireless communication, is worn by plant personnel that can send a signal if dangerous gases are in the area. In fact, much of the wireless discussion was about plant personnel locators and mobile operators.

More detail coming later when I get a chance to catch my breath.

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