Would you attend a conference where the speakers were CEOs, CTOs, VP Engineering and the like of supplier companies? More important, would you pay to attend such a conference?

Over at Automation World, we are busy organizing the second iteration of The Automation Conference. The truism in our industry (used by us, at the ARC Forum, at Emerson Exchange, and many more) is that presentations should be non-commercial and best by peers of the anticipated audience.

In the technology arena, Tim O’Reilly has made a nice living publishing books about technology and producing conferences. I listen to speakers from many of his conferences via podcast from IT Conversations (which, sadly is going away by the end of the year). His audience is primarily developers (I think). His speakers are for the most part exhibiters. They talk about advances of new products and the uses of technology.

I was just wondering if such a conference would go over in our market. Please leave comments.

I’m also starting to get my podcast series back in gear. There were so many things going on, that I sort of shelved it. But podcasts get far more downloads than videos. Another question–what if I did a series of interviews with top executives of supplier companies? Would that be worthwhile?

Emerson and Invensys and OPC

I posted a video essay recapping Emerson Exchange and Invensys Software’s User Conference. Both attracted good attendance and the atmosphere at both was full of energy and enthusiasm. Also, there were many faces that were not “old white guys.” Many younger people and many females. It is great to see such a demographic mix.

OPC’s inaurgural technology summit was also good. And the annual conference of the Society of Maintenance and Reliability Professionals (SMRP) was well attended–900 registered I was told. The most important point I learned at SMRP was tying Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) to profitability. I’m glad to hear people think in those terms. If we can get EAM, MES and ERP working together to improve manufacturing profitability (as well as maintenance & reliability, operations and IT working together), that will be a positive outcome for the industry.

Rockwell Automation

After spending the weekend in the Chicago suburban area watching my first ever 5-yr-old’s soccer match (grandson, of course–the next generation of Mintchells in soccer), I headed to Cleveland Monday for a briefing with several Rockwell Automation executives and a tour of a couple of its labs.

Part of the briefing was to give me a heads-up on announcements coming at Automation Fair in a couple of weeks. I am fascinated watching the development of Logix from around 1999 when Rich Ryan and John Nesi were explaining the concept to the way it’s building out. Rockwell has stayed the course while adapting to changing technologies–e.g. multi-core processors. More to come on that at Automation Fair. I’ll see some of you in Philadelphia, for sure.

Networking (especially EtherNet/IP) and process automation have been the core drivers of growth and market share gains for Rockwell over the past few years. I got to tour a greatly enhanced networking lab and also the process automation configuration lab (well, and also an instrumentation lab). Suffice it to say that the company has placed much investment in these areas. It’s interesting to hear Rockwell executives discuss the nuances of process automation with the same knowledge as they used to discuss automotive.

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