At one point this morning, I had two screens open streaming Schneider Electric and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and the phone rang. I figured it was telemarking. I answered it intending to disconnect immediately. It was a PR person who told me the SVP of a company wanted to talk to me about digital transformation. So, I quickly told her my bad days the next couple of weeks. She subsequently wrote back to say they were seeing if he had any time on his calendar (translation, her boss told her to drum up some interviews and I’ll wind up talking to a junior assistant manager somewhere–but that’s life in the big city).

Emerson Global Users Exchange–Virtual

Decidedly a low-key event this year. I was either limited to just the keynote or I couldn’t find a proper link to anything else. But the keynote was interesting. CTO Peter Zornio and Group President Digital Transformation Stuart Harris spoke about, well, digital transformation. Nothing about valves or instrumentation and a little about sensors. Emerson Automation Solutions has come a long way the past few years.

Zornio began with a topic that was heretical only a year or two ago–cloud. Now that engineers and managers have discovered the usefulness of cloud computing, it has become used in many companies. No, we don’t talk about control in the cloud. That baby has been put to rest. However Emerson and its customers have discovered the inflection point of OT and IT is data. And the cloud is a natural home to data.

They discussed briefly some products, but I have not received any information, so more coming later. But unsurprisingly they are talking edge and analytics.

As much as I like listening to Zornio and Harris, Lance Fountaine of¬†Cargill stole the show for me. He discussed the company’s Smart Manufacturing initiative. He kept going up and down the stack discussing roles at the top and at the plant floor and how all have a place in the digital transformation experience. He mentioned “both bottom up and top down” many times. And, beginning with business strategy and then applying the technology to support it. The SM system includes three parts: innovate–look for new ways and new tech; incubate–figure out how to scale, what really wins, small scale trials; and graduate–how rapidly can a solution be rolled out.

Schneider Electric

The keynote from North America CEO and President Annette Clayton contained the word anti-fragile several times. I don’t think she was referring to Nassim Nicholas Taleb (Anti-Fragile: Things That Gain from Disorder). Resiliency was another key word. Realizing that electrical is about 75% of revenue for Schneider Electric, I didn’t expect much discussion of automation. That part discussed the EcoStruxure Automation Expert software-defined control that I’ve previously covered. The important point to emphasize is the link of this product to Open Process Automation. I’ve been told that this is a very important initiative for Schneider Electric. We’ll see how it develops.

HPE

The HPE conference was on the future of work and the workforce. It was a series of panels which I found difficult to transcribe. Only a part of the conversation was manufacturing or industrial. But…it is important by pointing out the importance of connecting people and work, people and people, and place to (perhaps mobile) place. HPE builds the infrastructure from enterprise to edge to networking to perform all the important connections. More than any discussion of robots replacing humans, this issue of connectivity is key.

Apple

OK, so I’m an Apple geek. I’m typing this on my 6-month-old 13″ MacBook Air (which I love) even with its Intel processor. As expected, Apple introduced its ARM-based, Apple-designed silicon–dubbed the M1. It is powerful. I was drooling. So, was the first computer out of the box with it the anticipated new 16″ MacBook Pro? Nooooo. It is the new 13″ MacBook Air. Darn, a little patience and I could be ordering that baby. That’s OK. I’m happy with this machine for now. If I buy anything new (if?), it will be an iPhone 12. I have a 10. It must be time to bolster the economy and upgrade.

Wrap up

Too much screen time today. I was finally able to buy weights. It’s time to knock off and do my lifting and Yoga. Can’t let this virus thing make me sedentary.

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