Industrial IoT: Why Now is a Prime Time for Manufacturing | MECCO Blog


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Why Right Now is the Prime Time for Manufacturing

PartnerNetwork Conference 2018

Takeaways from Rockwell Automation PartnerNetwork™ Conference 2018

“This is one of the most exciting times in manufacturing.”

When Tessa Myers, VP of North America Sales, Solutions & Services at Rockwell Automation, made this bold statement at the their 2018 PartnerNetwork Conference, the 600+ Encompass Partners, Solution Partners, and Distributors in the audience agreed. Myers, like all of us, understands that the manufacturing industries of today – and tomorrow – have much to learn and gain from the possibilities of the Connected Enterprise.

So, the questions are: What is the value that we can bring to our customers at MECCO? How can we harness the innovative solutions that are possible through partnerships? And, what does the future hold when it comes to digital, automation, and the effects on the manufacturing workforce?

As Encompass Partners, several members of the MECCO team attended the PartnerNetwork Conference to collaborate and discover these answers from some of the most innovative minds in the industry.

Like Rockwell Automation, MECCO recognizes the value provided for manufacturers across various industries when we partner to bring technologies, application expertise, and people together.

Takeaway 1: Bring The Connected Enterprise to life by providing value.

The Connected Enterprise is the key to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) that gives manufacturers like you the ability to increase productivity. The idea of the possibilities within The Connected Enterprise is exciting. But it’s the value that you can get from these technologies that is most intriguing.

Rockwell Automation Chairman and CEO Blake Moret’s opening keynote detailed the three-point approach to bring The Connected Enterprise to life: Understanding, Combining, and Simplifying.

Tessa Myers presenting at PartnerNetwork Conference 2018“People don't want to buy automation,” said Myers. “They're not buying automation because they think the technology is great. They're trying to get a business outcome.”

To achieve those outcomes, the focus is on simplifying the experience for our mutual customers. Here, The MECCO Experience is all about understanding your needs and translating those needs into unique innovative solutions for your company. This aligns well with the conference’s theme of bringing you the insights and technologies that will help you overcome your challenges.

Takeaway 2: It’s all about partnership.

You can’t underestimate the value of a great partner. Rockwell Automation’s John McDermott, the Senior VP of Global Sales & Marketing, focused on “our future, together” and the power and value of collaborative working relationships.

But it isn’t just about collaboration between our companies. It’s about a culture of collaboration.

Partnering within Rockwell Automation

Rockwell Automation practices what they preach. They are a company that prides itself on culture. They once again won a “World’s Most Ethical Companies” award in 2018, and these ethical standards extend to the PartnerNetwork. Moret attributed their dedication to inclusivity and culture for employees’ increased speed of decision-making, the steady stream of fresh ideas, and the ability to learn from mistakes.

Partnering with our customers

That culture extends beyond the confines of a company’s offices. As Myers explained, it is imperative to “create a culture where employees are focused on delivering a customer experience of industry insights, business outcomes, and lifecycle support; in helping our customers be more successful.”

VP of Global Marketing & Digital Business, Ninveh Neuman, further explained the impact of culture on customers by referring to customer interviews they’ve conducted across the manufacturing spectrum. What those interviews revealed was the value of consultancy. “[Customers] are looking for expertise and perspective,” Neuman explained. “They’re looking for someone to get on the journey with them.”

The goal is to provide smart, sustainable solutions in ways that:
  • Simplify project execution
  • Bring innovation
  • Demonstrate the value of collaborative working relationships
At MECCO, we take this philosophy to heart. Our culture is one where people, not sales, come first and where innovative relationships lead to innovative solutions for our customers.

Takeaway 3: Don’t fear the future.

In the evolving world of manufacturing, what does the next era hold? This was a topic discussed at length at the conference: the shift to digital, the automation evolution, and a changing workforce.

As you could predict, workforce changes were a primary focus among PartnerNetwork Conference attendees. When McDermott conducted a live poll on the first day, “workforce challenges” ranked as the trend/concern that was top of mind with our customers, receiving 54% of the vote. Tied for second with 13% was cyber security and analytics/insights.

But, overall, the consensus was to embrace the future, not fear it.

“There's a little bit of a fear factor,” said Neuman of her conversations with customers. “But ultimately, they believe that automation has a positive impact.”

For those still apprehensive of the change, VP of ManpowerGroup Chris Layden explained that automation shouldn’t be as intimidating as it’s always made out to be. While automation may replace 5% of full jobs, it’s more likely (45%) to replace activities within those jobs.

Therefore, we need to redefine what skills are needed for the transition to automation.

Mark Blyth presenting at PartnerNetwork Conference 2018As Layden showed in his presentation on the workforce, the top 10 in-demand skills for the workforce will see a bit of a shift by 2020. The top three will be “Complex Problem Solving, Critical Thinking, and Creativity.” New skills to the list are predicted to be Emotional Intelligence and Cognitive Flexibility.

“Manufacturing matters more than ever,” said keynote speaker Mark Blyth, Eastman Professor of Political Economy at Brown University. Manufacturing output will increase and people are a vital resource. The changes we’re seeing lead to improved efficiency, so while the workforce requirements may change, there are plenty of opportunities.

Moret summed up the importance of skilled people to the future of automated manufacturing when he said “Technology alone won’t save us. It requires people to stitch it together.”

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