As the countdown begins for ARC's 16th India Forum there is palpable excitement in the air. Our office becomes the back stage where we prepare the list of speakers, finalize the agenda, check the numbers registered, ensure the requirements at the venue are in order, etc. Besides all this, it’s a rich learning experience for all of us about new technologies and their applications, across a spectrum of industries. As the presentations come in I begin to wonder how these will capture the forum’s core theme of Digitizing and Securing Industry, Infrastructure, and Cities.
The first ARC Forum that I participated in was way back in 2006! Then I was flitting in and out of the hall, barely understanding the gist of what the speaker was explaining about winning strategies and best practices. Some of the jargon seemed incomprehensible and the solutions sounded similar. I made some embarrassing gaffes in those early years. In fact I once told Andy that these solutions are like old wine in new bottles; and a senior chided me - “you can’t talk to the CEO like that!”
Gradually over the years it all began to make sense and became words that slipped off my tongue easily – collaboration, seamless integration, context mapping, virtual simulation, cybersecurity etc. I felt the India team was doing a great job – but the bubble burst when I attended the Orlando Forum in 2012. It was a mega event - easily thrice the size of the India Forum – and management and operations were streamlined. When I entered the hall I could see an ocean of heads and the speaker was talking about the linkage between processes-technologies-people. Today that linkage is taken for granted, and we’ve moved to the next level of IT-OT-ET (information-operations-engineering) integration.
Where we are now
This year’s forum will stress more on the digital journey, the IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things), integration between IT-OT-ET across domains/industries; and the importance of cybersecurity.
The automation industry appears to be evolving at a faster rate right now than at any time in its history, with IIoT being one of the primary drivers of change. Leveraging the power of the IIoT, companies have embarked on their digital journeys. A few years ago, new technologies, such as cloud computing, mobility, IIoT, Big Data/analytics, and 3D visualization, seemed like mere business jargon; but today, these technologies are driving industrial growth.
However, the downside of increased connectivity is cyber vulnerability. Organizations are voicing the need for more integrated, collaborative cybersecurity strategies. All these issues will be further discussed at this year’s Forum.
Growth via collaboration
What was of particular interest to me at the last India Forum was growth via collaboration between suppliers. The strategic alliance between Bentley Systems and Siemens made me view the two suppliers differently. Previously, I’d thought of them as cut throat competitors fighting for their share of market pie. To move from competition to cooperation and collaboration certainly requires serious rethinking about business models and strategies; and a change in mindset and attitudes. Besides the financial involvement and commitment of both companies, what sets an example to the industrial world is the understanding that a collaborative effort will increase their strengths and deliverables, and accelerate digitization globally.
Another joint presentation by Mitsubishi Electric and IBM highlighted the strategic customer benefits of the close collaboration between the two suppliers. Speakers from both companies pointed out that, when technology suppliers coordinate their development efforts with each other, the resulting technology convergence is more agile and can often cater to a broader customer base. Ultimately, these types of alliances benefit the customer as competence levels rise through knowledge sharing and enhanced capabilities.
At this year’s forum we are likely to see more such collaborations between suppliers. And I think that is what the digital journey is all about – learning about the pain points from each other, improving operational processes, building on combined strengths, and moving forward collectively.
Curtains up on ARC’s 16th India Forum
The stage is set, the time has come for the curtains to rise on ARC’s 16th India Forum from July 5-6, 2018. This is the right place and opportunity to network. If you haven’t registered as yet, please do so by sending an email to email@example.com.