Here I go to yet another IT conference to talk convergence and platform. Salesforce invited me to its summer marketing conference in June and promised an interview with a Vice President. I could take my wife out to a good anniversary dinner, visit family, and go to a tech conference with a good interview all on one trip. Too good to pass up.
This was the Salesforce Connections conference. Not as big as Dreamforce in San Francisco, but still quite large by our standards in manufacturing.
Salesforce is more than the CRM company it was. Many acquisitions later, it has assembled an array of technology. Like all tech companies, it has a platform. In fact due to its open APIs, you could use it, too. Some time ago, I interviewed the CEO of a manufacturing ERP company called Kenandy that was build upon the Salesforce platform. Rootstriker, another ERP company build on the Salesforce platform, recently acquired Kenandy.
Featured in one keynote was an application by MTD, a manufacturer of lawn tractors (Cub Cadet, etc.). No, Salesforce doesn’t run machines. It does help connect the manufacturer with its end customers and then with its dealers with feedback to the manufacturer.
The idea is that customers do online research and so need to be reached in many ways (thus Salesforce marketing). MTD erected an online store on the Salesforce platform (in simplified terms) for direct to the consumer interaction. An order is fulfilled by the local dealer. The dealer still gets margin and relationship and as an extra added bonus, the opportunity for service business. Linking all back to MTD, it gets to know the customer, satisfies the dealer, plus receiving data from the service business feeds back into product development.
Achyut Jajoo, Salesforce VP automotive/manufacturing, told me industry is moving from product centric to system, e.g., autonomous vehicles, mobility services, digital signals; factory automation, geographic expansion, intelligence, vehicle sales. Mobility services lead to transaction service—over air updates, location based services.
He noted that people start online and mostly know what they want before visiting a dealer. Other manufacturing customers tying their whole sales systems back to manufacturing include John Deere and Ecolab.
“State of the Connected Customer” report
Before I went to the conference, Saleforce sent me this interesting report—a survey of over 6,700 consumers and business buyers worldwide that looks at the ever changing landscape of customers’ expectations, the emerging technologies influencing these expectations and the role trust plays in the customer experience.
Customers today are energized by tech innovations — but also plagued by deepening distrust of the companies that provide them. They have high expectations about what makes a great customer experience, and not a lot of patience for companies that fail to deliver.
These trends impact every company, regardless of whether they sell to consumers or business buyers purchasing on behalf of their companies. In this research, “customers” is an aggregate of both consumer and business buyer responses.
The report dives into the nuances of this tricky customer landscape. Here are five of the high-level findings our research brought to light:
1. Customer experience matters even more than you think
Eighty percent of customers say that the experience a company provides is as important as its products or services. A majority take this sentiment a step further by voting with their wallets; 57% have stopped buying from a company because a competitor provided a better experience.
2. B2B expectations mirror B2C standards
The concept of “B2Me” isn’t new, but it’s gathering steam. Eighty-two percent of business buyers want the same experience as when they’re buying for themselves. But only 27% say companies generally excel at meeting their standards for an overall B2B experience, signaling ample room to improve.
3. Companies face new connected mandates
For 84% of customers, being treated like a person — and not a number — is very important to win their business. Another 70% say connected processes are very important to win their business (such as seamless handoffs between departments and channels, or contextualized engagement based on earlier interactions).
Even before a purchase, personalization is hugely important; 59% of customers say tailored engagement based on past interactions is very important to win their business.
While they buy, 78% of business buyers seek salespeople that act as trusted advisors with knowledge of their needs and industry.
4. Technology sets new benchmarks for innovation
Real innovation, not lip service, is a deciding factor for most customers. 56% of customers (including 66% of business buyers) actively seek to buy from the most innovative companies.
While some emerging technologies are only starting to take root, a majority of customers say these technologies have transformed (or are actively transforming) their expectations: the Internet of Things (60%), voice-activated personal assistants (59%), and AI (51%).
5. Facing a crisis of trust: finding the balance between personalization and privacy
Sixty-two percent of customers say they’re more afraid of their data being compromised now than they were two years ago — and nearly half of customers (45%) feel confused about how companies use their data.
82% of customers will share relevant information about themselves in exchange for connections between their digital and in-person experiences.
81% of customers will share relevant information about themselves in exchange for more consultative help from salespeople.
85% of customers will share relevant information about themselves in exchange for proactive customer service.
For 92% of customers, the ability to control what personal information is collected makes them more likely to trust a company with that information.
It’s all about connections. That’s the direction I went four years ago when I renamed my blog and set out on my own. Manufacturing Connection (as general a word as I could buy the domain for–not only factory but also process industries).
Honeywell User Group is this week. I had other meetings with paying clients, so I’m not there. However here is some news from the event, and I’ll throw in a bonus link to Control Global whose team is distributing a “show daily”.
Enabling industrial companies to employ Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) today to address ongoing operational challenges will be the overriding topic for Honeywell Process Solutions’ (HPS) 42nd annual Honeywell Users Group (HUG) for the Americas.
More than 1300 delegates from across the oil and gas, chemical, pulp and paper, and metals and mining sectors are attending HUG, which runs today through Friday. The event features numerous displays of the newest technologies along with dozens of Honeywell- and customer-led sessions and technical discussions.
“Challenges facing manufacturers and plant operators today have not dramatically changed in the last 40 years. Safety, efficiency, reliability, productivity and security continue to drive innovation across industries,” said Vimal Kapur, president of HPS. “What has changed is our ability to better address these challenges. Today, we are able to leverage the power of the internet to employ a broader range of data to transform operations. At Honeywell, we call it the power of connected and specifically for HPS customers, it is Honeywell Connected Plant.”
Attendees at HUG will experience a range of new technologies and solutions that can help them enable the quick and effective adoption of the industrial internet of things (IIoT) at their plants. From technology displays in the demonstration room to a range of presentations from Honeywell experts as well as customer case studies, the Connected Plant will be front and center throughout the symposium.
“Manufacturers are looking to increase production from existing assets while managing their finite investment dollars. Connected Plant can help them do exactly that,” Kapur said.
In addition to the Connected Plant solutions, attendees will experience many of Honeywell’s newest industrial automation technologies including:
- Experion Elevate is real-time supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) delivered as a secure and scalable service, reducing the need for on-site hardware and support.
- LEAP for Operations extends LEAP project efficiency principles to optimize, simplify, and run ongoing operations more efficiently.
- Honeywell Trace is documentation and change management software that reduces configuration errors, improves troubleshooting, reduces unplanned shutdowns and improves auditing and regulatory compliance.
- Secure Media Exchange (SMX) reduces cyber security risk and operational disruption by monitoring, protecting and logging use of removable media such as USBs.
- Experion Unit Operations Suite leverages a new ControlEdge Unit Operations Controller along with Experion Batch Manager to optimize pharmaceutical, specialty chemical, and food & beverage applications.
- Predict RT is a novel, intelligent data analytics framework transforming the refining industry from traditional, reactive degradation management, to real-time, proactive, corrosion management through online, real-time corrosion prediction and monitoring.
- Enterprise Risk Manager provides cross-plant cyber risk visibility across all site Risk Managers, providing a solution that measures and manages high priority industrial cyber risk.
- ControlEdge RTU provides improved management of field assets through simplified and efficient remote monitoring, diagnostics, and management. It reduces equipment monitoring and diagnostics from hours to minutes, and integration with Experion SCADA reduces configuration time by 80%.
- Open Virtual Engineering Platform (VEP) is a secure and reliable cloud engineering service for convenient and instant access to an off-process full functional Experion system at any release, accessible from anywhere at the lowest total cost of ownership.
Another big document dump hacked from the CIA points to more security risks for all of us–especially those working in critical infrastructure. Thoughts in podcast form from Gary.
The Automation Industry (if you wish to call it an industry) has some interesting news of innovation. The ARC Advisory Group Industry Forum is coming up in a couple of weeks. I will be there. If you’re coming, let me know. Maybe we can chat over a coffee or something.
Meanwhile, the Association for Advancing Automation (A3) has announced a call for startup companies in robotics, machine vision and motion control to enter the Automate Launch Pad Competition. The competition is a chance for the industry’s most innovative young companies to vie for the spotlight at the Automate 2017 Exhibition and Conference—the industry’s largest gathering in North America, taking place in Chicago, Illinois April 3-6, 2017—as well as a $10,000 cash award. The Automate Launch Pad Startup Competition seeks out startup companies looking to generate awareness of their technology and find new sources of funding.
“Investment in the automation and robotics market is rising sharply, with a record 128 companies receiving funding of $1.95 billion in 2016—which is a 50% increase over the previous record-breaking year,” noted Jeff Burnstein, president of A3. “The Automate Launch Pad Competition is a great opportunity for innovative young companies to gain some extra funding and garner the attention of key players in the automation industry.”
Call for submissions and application form for the Launch Pad Competition are now open. Eligible companies include those in the automation space (robotics, vision, motion control, etc.) who were founded in the last five years; raised less than US $2 million since creation; and are not affiliated with a larger group. Eight semi-finalist companies will be invited to participate in the competition at Automate on April 3, where they will have three minutes to pitch their technology to a panel of investors and automation experts. All semi-finalists will also be provided booth space on the Automate show floor, putting them in front of an expected audience of over 20,000 automation professionals, investors, scientists and journalists. The Automate Launch Pad Competition is sponsored by GE and the event is co-produced with Silicon Valley Robotics.
Systems Integrators To Meet
In other news, The Control Systems Integrators Association (CSIA) has announced its spring meeting information.
It is expecting more than 500 control system integrators and industry suppliers from around the globe in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, May 2 – 5 for the Control System Integrators Association (CSIA) 2017 Executive Conference. Themed From best practices to transformative business models, the conference will include over a dozen educational sessions, including several presented as part of two separate tracks.
- Track 1: Small Company SIs and Best Practices
CSIA’s Best Practices have helped hundreds of system integrators grow from younger, smaller companies into the well-established ones they are today. Attendees will learn how they, too, can use CSIA Best Practices for growth.
- Track 2: Transformative Business Models
Technology is creating a very exciting future filled with opportunity for SIs — opportunities that will require a shift away from traditional SI business models. Through a series of presentations, panel discussions and an unconference, SIs will gain an understanding of how to take advantage of these emerging models.
Economist Alan Beaulieu, president of ITR Economics, will open the conference with his latest economic outlook for manufacturing, providing a solid outlook for attendees to use to guide their companies’ into the future.
In addition to the educational sessions included during the conference, CSIA will offer a two-day intensive training workshop on Best Practices implementation on Monday, May 1 and Tuesday, May 2, just prior to the conference.
Those attending the conference will have opportunities for networking, including the annual industry expo, awards banquet and a closing reception. The CSIA Fun Run/Walk will be held again this year, along with other special events and tours.
See complete details and register at the CSIA 2017 Executive Conference website.
It is time to begin planning your trip to perhaps the only automation industry general gathering. Here is a teaser from ARC about its upcoming event.
Presenting the 21st Annual ARC Industry Forum Industry in Transition: Realizing the Digital Enterprise February 6-9, 2017 – Orlando, Florida. How will disruptive technologies change existing products and plants? How will open source solutions impact traditional software and automation domains? Is cybersecurity a threat to digitalization and, if so, how can the risk be mitigated? How ‘smart’ are smart machines, and what benefit will these bring? How do Big Data and predictive and prescriptive analytics enable operational change? How do connected products create opportunities in aftermarket services? What software capabilities are needed to achieve transformational change? Which industries are already changing? What steps can organizations take to foster innovative thinking? Join us at the 21st annual ARC Industry Forum in Orlando, Florida to learn more about how the digital enterprise will be realized and the benefits that this can bring. Discover what your peers are doing today and what steps they are taking in their respective journeys.
I plan to attend for the 20th time. The only industry people not there are competitive analysts. There are representatives from most suppliers, foundations and associations, as well as from forward thinking end users. Most of the industry trade media will also be present. Suppliers began setting up press conferences several years ago. For a while it was quite a marathon where we would see a new presentation every half-hour for more than five hours! Then it was time for snacks and wine.
The sessions are usually interesting. ARC strives to have mostly users talking to users discouraging vendor sales pitches. One problem with that is that the vendors are the technology developers. If they would let their technology people speak, then that would really round things off. But marketing people being marketing people, they just can’t let an opportunity to be in front of prospects and customers go by without a pretty blatant sales pitch. So, ARC cuts that off in order to attract good discussions and quality attendees.
Start setting up appointments soon! Hope to see you there. Maybe we could organize a meet up.
The conference was all about digital transformation. Company leaders must begin thinking about digitally transforming their companies or they face disruption from digital startups.
This was Dell EMC World—the first user conference after the major acquisition of EMC by Dell forming Dell Technologies. Touting the size and breadth of the combined companies, Michael Dell began the meeting, “Let the transformation begin.”
A poll of business leaders returned these sobering thoughts:
- 45% may be out of business in 3 years;
- 48% 2-3 years see big changes;
- 78% digital startups will be a threat
As Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE put it, “You go to bed an industrial company and wake up a digital and analytics company.”
“Dell EMC will be the trusted provider of essential infrastructure for the next industrial revolution,” proclaimed Dell further into his keynote.
I attended the conference at the invitation of the Dell social influencer marketing group. Press conference attendance broke down as 41% analysts, 41% press, and 18% social influencers. They expect the press number to decline and influencer number to increase over time.
Michael Dell in press conference: “Internet of Everything helps customers embrace the digital future.” Dell also sees the need to help customers move from CapEx to OpEx. This need financial need from customers was echoed the next week at the Emerson Exchange. Companies in many industries at this time have slashed capital expenditures. Any movement forward in facility and process improvements must be done through operations expenditures.
This was my second Dell World. The Internet of Things group is just over a year old. Its unveiling was last year’s conference. This year’s presence was greatly enhanced. The booth layout simulated an ice cream factory (see diagram). Emerson Automation was represented (along with partners OSIsoft, Microsoft, and Dell) showing valves, wireless transmitters, date ported to a database into the Microsoft Azure cloud using a Dell IoT Gateway.
Emerson’s Jim Cahill wrote this section of the process in his Emerson Process Experts blog.
Dell has taken an embedded PC platform, added its services, mixed in a variety of partners and baked up an IoT solution. Other partners included Air Watch, Eigen Innovations, V5 Systems, IBM, KMC Controls, PTC Kepware, ELM Fieldsight. Solutions included quality, security, data communications, analytics.
As I have written several times over the past year, Dell is serious about the manufacturing space. The IoT platform is designed to leverage Dell’s vast IT contacts to achieve IT/OT convergence from the IT side.
Dell Technologies new products
Dell Technologies is a serious technology player on many fronts. I’ll just highlight some of the many announcements it made during the conference.
Michael Dell was insistent that integration of Dell and EMC was achieving rapid results. Many of the products announced resulted from just that integration.
From the press release:
Global business leaders agreed that moving toward a cloud model, expanding software development capabilities and enabling faster innovation and deeper insights from data are key strategies to digital transformation. However companies are struggling to evolve their data centers, with 69% saying they are being held back by too many traditional applications. They are challenged with reducing sprawl and spend, while bringing systems up-to-date. New products and solutions announced this week at Dell EMC World are designed to help organizations accelerate their transformation and manage costs.
“To ensure that they’re not “Uber’d”, “Airbnb’d” or “Tesla’d” in their marketplace, today’s organizations must embark on a digital transformation. To truly realize their digital future, we believe the vast majority of organizations will transform their IT through a hybrid cloud strategy, ” said David Goulden, president, Infrastructure Solutions Group, Dell EMC. “The first ‘no regrets’ step is to modernize their data center through the most advanced converged infrastructure, servers, storage, data protection, and cybersecurity technologies to name a few. This week we are launching a wave of new products and solutions designed as the building blocks for this endeavor.”
Announced this week at Dell EMC World:
- #1 Scale-Out NAS System Dell EMC Isilon Goes All-Flash For Unstructured Data
Dell EMC will announce a new member of the Isilon product family, combining the high performance of flash technology with the #1 scale-out NAS platform in the industry. Dell EMC Isilon All-Flash is designed to help IT organizations modernize their infrastructure and deliver on the capabilities of a digital business.
- Dell EMC Extends Common User Experience to SC Series
Dell EMC will announced it has boosted the capabilities of its mid-market proven SC Series (formerly Compellent) storage arrays by making it interoperable with the world’s leading portfolio of storage management, mobility and data protection solutions formerly only available to EMC customers.
- Extraordinary Dell EMC Partner Program To Provide Transformational Business Value and OpportunityDell EMC announced a preview of the company’s new and highly anticipated channel partner program. The Dell EMC Partner Program provides an unprecedented business opportunity for partners and validates Dell EMC’s commitment to the channel. Built on three core tenets—to be Simple, Predictable, and Profitable—the new program strategy ensures partners have ample opportunity, business continuity and commensurate profitability no matter their program tier.