I have to say that it is truly an honor to have been asked to write for automtionmedia.com. I have always been a fan of this website, and truly hope that my ramblings will provide everyone with both information and entertainment. I fully believe that information does not necessarily need to not be entertaining. Everyone needs a a new perspective in these uncertain economic times, and I will be working hard over the next few months to do just that.
The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades
When one writes for publications and blogs, one often finds inspiration in odd places. Coming back from a recent business trip to Europe I had some time to kill between flights and wandered into an airport watering hole. The TV above the bar was tuned into an MTV 80â€™s Retro special and I could not help but chuckle at some of the videos that I used to watch as a teenager. While I did enjoy the Wang Chung video, it was the Timbuck 3 video that really stuck with me.
For those who donâ€™t remember Timbuck 3 (or are ashamed to admit that they have that song on their iPod), they were a Grammy nominated German band who were mostly known for their Top 20 single â€śThe Futureâ€™s So Bright I Gotta Wear Shadesâ€ť. While the original meaning of the song was rather grim, it became misinterpreted as a positive perspective in regard to the near future. This is how I remember it, and I think that it is that positive perspective that I use to look at the end of 2009 and into 2010.
2009 has been truly a year of turbulence in all areas of everyoneâ€™s life. My father used to always say that the measure of someoneâ€™s character does not come from how they handle the good times, but rather what sort of resolve they show when times are not so good.
In my role as Director of Technology Marketing for the PTO, I have been travelling across North America conducting PROFIBUS Training Classes, and I am continually amazed by the resolve that I have been seeing in the people that I meet. Regardless of whether they come from the process or discrete manufacturing verticals, everyone is looking positively to the horizon. It speaks very highly of the integrity and character of automation professionals in America. Regardless of being asked to do more with less, everyone that I meet is embracing the challenge and standing tall. What is actually more amazing is the desire for increased technology training. Engineering professionals that I ran into were extremely interested in learning all that they could about open standards. While interest in open standards like OPC, PROFINET, PROFIBUS, FF, and Ethernet IP has always been strong, I would say that the current economic situation has really caused individuals putting projects together to take a serious second look at the value of open standards.
Organizations and end-users are being more cautious, and cost conscious, when architecting their systems. They are looking for proven technologies that integrate into current systems, yet are scalable for the future. This provides a huge market opportunity for those companies who produce open standard based products.
If we look at the overall goal of industrial standards, they are to provide end-users with the best opportunity to create system architectures from a variety of vendors that truly embody a best-of-breed solution. Everything now is based on cost and efficiency. I would say that vendors who understand these qualities are the vendors who will weather the current economic storm. I am very excited about where the rest of the year brings us all.
Speaking of weathering the current economic storm, I was recently in the Mid-West, and folks there were starting to see growth. Projects are coming back online, and contracts are once again being tendered. Overall companies that I spoke with are predicting that things will average out and be flat for the remainder of 2009. Recovery and Growth most definitely seem to be a bright star in the sky to navigate these uncharted waters.
I look forward to writing automationmedia.com in the months to come, and I look forward to meeting more of you while I am out on the road. I should be easily recognized, as I will be the one in sunglasses. After all, â€śThe Futureâ€™s So Bright I Gotta Wear Shadesâ€ť.