Honeywell Connect 2023, the user conference of Honeywell Connected Enterprise the software business unit of Honeywell, was held in Dallas this year October 10-12. I had been waiting for some documents from Honeywell and got busy. I’ve written several news stories from Honeywell Connect over the past six months. This Strategic Business Unit of Honeywell has been quite busy.

This event was sort of a 5th anniversary celebration. I’m a slow learner and it took some time before it sunk into my consciousness just what was up with Honeywell Connected Enterprise and Honeywell Forge. Honeywell corporately has five strategic business units. Four are vertical business. Honeywell Connected Enterprise is the software arm that cuts across all the other SBUs plus reaches out in its own right.

CEO Kevin Dehoff referred to Forge as the “premier Industrial IoT Architecture.” At a time when other companies who had touted IIoT were moving to other marketing slogans, HCE proudly discusses IIoT as the connected of the Connected Enterprise. I think they are continuing on the correct track. After all, I named my new website 10 years ago as The Manufacturing Connection because I saw that connecting things (and processes and people and businesses) was where we as an industry needed to go.

Discussion centered on outcomes. I also like that approach. Too many product companies focus on features. Customers are interested in outcomes. 

Everything connected becomes a hacking risk. HCE acquired SCADAfence a few months ago to strengthen an already rich cyber security portfolio. Shortly after the acquisition, the company announced CyberWatch and CyberInsights. Expect to see growing robustness from the cybersecurity portfolio.

No software event can be complete without bowing to Digital Transformation. “Digital Transformation isn’t an event—it’s an ongoing journey.” HCE talks of technology augmenting humans. Another topic here is the potential use of AI as an enabler of autonomous control—another sub theme of the conference.

Some ideas in this vein include AI co-pilots, cyber forensics and recovery, closed loop sustainability.

Digital Transformation as the sum of process, people, technology, and data.

Sustainability continues to be a strong theme. Companies are continuing the trend from manual to automated data collection. Carbon and demand management continue as an important trend. HCE continues to see opportunities with instrumentation for monitoring emissions, as well as, applying process control technologies to mitigate those.

One final thought. The last session I saw was with Vimal Kapur, Honeywell CEO. HCE has been developed to solve customers’ big problems. Doing so, Honeywell is building the largest industrial software company. “Maybe we already have.”

This is interesting because earlier this year I was at the Siemens Digital event where executives extolled the division as the market’s leading industrial software company. The week following AVEVA held its annual conference—a continuation of the OSIsoft PI user conference. Meanwhile, Emerson has been aggressively promoting itself as a software company. Yet, Rockwell Automation had been touting its software for a few years, but it has become the “digital transformation” company for the past year or more.

Where will software take all these companies? Is this where growth lies? Instrumentation and control are stable, but mature markets? I wonder.

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