Tim Sowell is a vice president and fellow at Invensys Operations Management as well as a blogger. His blogs are always thoughtful and forward looking. I’ve written from the blog on August 27 and October 7 of last year. He has recently posted a couple of trends and observations pieces that I’ll riff off of.

But first, thinking about Invensys leads to the mystery of 2014 in our market niche–what will Schneider Electric do with it? There is little overlap with existing business, so leaving it alone as an operating division within the company makes sense. Schneider more or less has done that with Square D and APC. However, the automation business it acquired from Modicon was pretty much buried in internecine warfare at the time.

I’m betting on the former. But corporate managers are always a mystery. At any rate, I’ve already heard of managerial layoffs due to the acquisition. Hopefully they don’t need many to pay for the purchase.

Transformation year

Sowell writes, “2014 has a real opportunity to be a transformation year in the Operational Management space, with many of the seedlings of trends and direction becoming increasingly adopted as we accelerate into new requirement of agility.”

He offers this list with which I agree–and which I intend to build into the new editorial directions of my two properties, The Manufacturing Connection and Maintenance Technology & Asset Performance.

  • Increased use of the “internet” as a natural part of the operational / automation architecture
  • increased adoption of the cloud combined with the expect rapid expansion “managed industrial services”
  • Increased transition from central to distributed, in all aspects of architecture and operational approach to plants
  • Increased role of energy and environment as big factors in operational/ automation design
  • Change in operational Experience to accommodate the transition of workforce to Gen Y and to a more operational team
  • Shift to the “Internet of Things” where smart strategies will increase the distributed landscape of operations, and control

Operational solutions

Sowell’s post this week picks up the theme of designing new “operational solutions.” You need to follow the link to read his entire thought process, but here are a few snippets.

  • With the drive towards more and more agility and rapid deployment of products to markets, the alignment of multiple plants,and their operational/automation systems with the business strategy/ applications is a key area.
  • The other key area of critical concern is the operational workplace. With rapid agility,comes the requirement for more alignment, and more complexity, combined with key / rapid decisions to be made in real-time, and as a result the new operational team collaboration, and operational workspace will be critical.
  • Some people throw technologies around like Cloud, wireless, and mobile, and begin looking for how to apply them, instead of stepping back and looking at “how they will be Operating, based upon the business, market and both capital and human assets”. This requires developing a plan and landscape to satisfy this future operational state.

Welcome 2014! Hope it’s a good one for all of us.

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