Tag Archives: control automation

Women in Automation- Emerson Exchange Zooms In

Insiderlogo3Emerson Exchange Casts Spotlight in Changes in Women’s Contributions to Automation
by Joy Ward

This is another article that would have been in the October INSIDER– part of the coverage of Emerson Exchange 2017. If you like this kind of reporting and analysis, subscribe to the INSIDER at www.spitzerandboyes.com/insider.

The recent Emerson Exchange did an excellent job of showing the range of how women and female insight can add to the automation industry. The two women who starred, Robyn Benincasa, the founder of WorldClass Teams as the keynote speaker and Janeen Judah, the President of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, the Women in Innovation speaker, gave listeners much to learn from and use in their careers.

Emerson started their recent meeting with one of the most exciting and challenging keynote speakers I have seen in a long time. Benincasa is a firefighter and adventure racer with nothing to do with automation, except that she had some of the best advice to members of the industry. Yes, we’ve all endured keynote speeches given by well-meaning but apparently automation-clueless speakers trying very hard to reach their audience. This speaker not only reached her audience but gave it marvelous advice and direction. Her message was one of cooperation, not competition. Too often we have been fed the message that life is about competition but not from this speaker. Through wonderful examples of her experiences adventure racing around the globe in some of the most challenging environments on earth, Benincasa showed how working together is a much stronger strategy than all-out competition. She also exhorted the crowd to work to win, not just NOT lose. This requires a different way of thinking and is a good lesson in today’s accounting-driven world.

Then Emerson continued the good words from the women’s side with a luncheon speech by Janeen Judah, the president of SPE, and a working petroleum engineer. While her message was not as physically exuberant, it was still both challenging and in the same vein — cooperation is the way for everyone to progress. She gave some sterling advice on how thinking of colleagues and doing well for them can come back to do well for everyone.

In summation, both women brought the same message to the Emerson crowd. Cooperation and what sociologist would consider traditionally female forms of interaction are healthier and ultimately more productive for individuals and companies. Is it possible that we are getting this type of message now because enough women are in the workplace and feel comfortable interacting and managing as women, not just women in steel boots? Whatever the reason, it is a healthy movement. Kudos for Emerson for hosting these two wise women and their messages!

Joy Ward has over thirty years’ experience in consumer psychology research and is Director of Qualitative Research for Spitzer and Boyes LLC. Her MIND OF THE CUSTOMER® research methodology has been used in areas from politics to the automotive industry to satellite manufacturing. Contact Joy at joyward@sbcglobal.net or 314-283-5259 for information on how Joy can bring the Mind of the Customer® to your enterprise.

Computer Crash Takes Out October INSIDER

Insiderlogo3As a result of a normal upgrade of Windows 10, the computer on which we make the INSIDER has suffered a catastrophic failure. According to the repair shop, it isn’t worth repairing, so they are taking the data off for us. It will take about a week to get the data back, and so we have decided to produce an October/November issue at the end of November.

But we’d like to try something different.

Over the next week or so, we are going to post some of the articles that would be in the October issue of the INSIDER on this blog, on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, for everyone to read, whether you are a subscriber or not.

If you find that you like what you’ll be seeing, you can become a subscriber by visiting http://www.spitzerandboyes.com/insider. Individual subscriptions are quite reasonable, and large company subscriptions that allow circulation to all within the company are also available.

If you’d like to talk to us, use this form:
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We hope you like what you’ll see.

ABB Doubles Down on Electric Business-Buys GE Industrial Solutions

ABB appears to be signalling that electrification is more important to them than anything else, including manufacturing and process automation. And GE is divesting itself of one of its historical core competencies and businesses. Read the press release:

ABB today announced the acquisition of GE Industrial Solutions, GE’s global electrification solutions business. GE Industrial Solutions has deep customer relationships in more than 100 countries and an established installed base with strong roots in North America, ABB’s biggest market. GE Industrial Solutions is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, and has about 13,500 employees around the world. In 2016, GE Industrial Solutions had revenues of approximately $2.7 billion, with an operational EBITDA margin of approximately 8 percent1 and an operational EBITA margin of approximately 6 percent1. ABB will acquire GE Industrial Solutions for $2.6 billion; the transaction will be operationally accretive in year one. ABB expects to realize approximately $200 million of annual cost synergies in year five, which will be key in bringing GE Industrial Solutions to peer performance. As part of the transaction and overall value creation, ABB and GE have agreed to establish a long-term, strategic supply relationship for GE Industrial Solutions products and ABB products that GE sources today.

“With GE Industrial Solutions, we strengthen our Number 2 position in electrification globally and expand our access to the attractive North American market,” said ABB CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer. “Combined with the long-term strategic supply relationship with GE, this transaction creates significant value for our shareholders.”

He added: “Together with the GE Industrial Solutions team, we will execute our well-established plans in a disciplined way to bring this business as part of the global ABB family back to peer performance. With this next step of active portfolio management, we continue to shift ABB’s center of gravity, in line with our Next Level strategy, by strengthening competitiveness, mainly in the North American market, and lowering risk with an early-cycle business.”

“This combination brings together two global businesses with a broad complement of electrical protection and distribution assets,” said John Flannery, CEO of GE. “ABB values our people, domain expertise, and our ability to operate in the segments where we have depth and experience. GE will also benefit through an expanded strategic supply relationship with ABB as the two companies work together.”

GE Industrial Solutions will be integrated into ABB’s Electrification Products (EP) division, resulting in a unique global portfolio and very comprehensive offering for North American and global customers. They will benefit from ABB’s innovative technologies and the ABB AbilityTM digital offering coupled with GE Industrial Solutions’ complementary solutions and market access. Included in the acquisition is a long-term right to use the GE brand. ABB will retain the GE Industrial Solutions management team and build upon its experienced sales force. After closing, this transaction will have an initial dampening effect to EP’s operational EBITA margin. ABB commits to returning EP to its target margin corridor of 15-19 percent during 2020.

Tarak Mehta, President of ABB’s EP division, said: “This acquisition strengthens our position as partner of choice for electrification globally and in North America. We look forward to working with GE Industrial Solutions’ and ABB’s customers and channel partners to create new opportunities in this highly attractive core market for our division. We have a clear integration plan to realize the synergies of this combination and to bring our combined business back into the target margin corridor during 2020.”

ABB’s EP division delivers more than 1.5 million products to customers around the world every day through a global network of channel partners and end-customers. EP offers a comprehensive portfolio of low- and medium-voltage products and solutions for a smarter, more reliable flow of electricity from substation to socket.

Given this transaction, ABB has decided to put the previously announced share buyback program on hold.

The transaction is expected to close in H1 2018, subject to customary regulatory clearances. Credit Suisse and Dyal Co. acted as financial advisors to ABB, and Davis Polk & Wardwell provided legal counsel.

ISA Fires Pat Gouhin, Longtime Executive Director

ISA has announced the firing of Pat Gouhin. I suppose that if you weren’t in the know, this will come as a huge surprise. I heard about it a few days ago and was sworn to secrecy. Now the announcement has been made:

International Society of Automation Plans for New Leadership of Professional Staff
Research Triangle Park, NC (21 August 2017) – The International Society of Automation (ISA) announced today that Executive Director and CEO, Patrick Gouhin, will be stepping down. ISA’s President, Steve Pflantz, announced that a Search Committee will be formed in the immediate future to identify Mr. Gouhin’s successor. The selection and announcement of a new Executive Director are expected to occur in the months ahead. Peggie W. Koon, Ph.D., CEO & Founder of Leading Change, LLC, will serve as Interim Executive Director.

“Pat has been our Executive Director since 2006 and has been a dedicated employee of ISA,” Pflantz said. “Under Pat’s leadership, ISA has progressed on many fronts. We will continue to ensure ISA’s long-term vitality as we continue our commitment to advance the profession of Automation. The Board is committed to the strategy work that has been done thus far and is grateful for Pat’s leadership in bringing us to this point.”

“This is an exciting time in the history of ISA, and I am proud of what we have achieved and the work we are doing,” Gouhin said. “A strong foundation has been laid based on the effort of many passionate volunteer leaders and a wonderfully dedicated staff team that will allow the next Executive Director to hit the ground running.”

During his 11+-year tenure at ISA, Gouhin has overseen many significant milestones in the Society’s history, including the expansion of ISA’s brand family to include the founding of The Automation Federation and the Automation Standards Compliance Institute, and the acquisition of digital media powerhouse Automation.com. The world’s only consensus standard for industrial cybersecurity, IEC 62443, was also developed and expanded under his tenure.

Before joining ISA, Gouhin served as the Chief Operating Officer of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). He also served as the first Vice President of Operations and Technology Transfer for the National Institute of Aerospace (NIA) at Langley Research Center, a start-up resulting from $69 million government contract award to build a world-class research and education institute.

Interim Executive Director Dr. Koon’s experience and expertise lies in strategy development and execution, leadership coaching, and change management. Dr. Koon is the former Vice President of Audience for the Augusta Chronicle/TAC Media, Morris Communications, LLC. She has over 25 years of experience in IT, process control, and process automation for both discrete and continuous process industries. She was a General Motors Scholar, earning a B.A. degree in Mathematics from Smith College. She also completed 2 years of graduate studies in Industrial and Systems Engineering as a General Motors Graduate Fellow at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and she has a Ph.D. in Management Information Systems from Kennedy Western University.

In addition to her experience managing strategic change, Dr. Koon has also been a member and leader at ISA for more than 20 years. She has held a variety of prominent roles in the Society, including Society President (2014), Chair of the Automation Federation (2015), member of the ISA Executive Board (2016), and Chair of Workforce Development for the Automation Federation (2016).

For additional information, contact ISA Director of Marketing & Communications, Jennifer Halsey, at jenniferhalsey@isa.org.

What IS All This Talk About Emotion?

Over the past couple of months I have seen several posts and articles that have designated or referred to 2016 as “The Year of Emotion.” As a marketing researcher with over 20 years experience in customer service, customer experience, and brand development and maintenance, I am astounded that emotion is just now receiving the focus it has deserved since marketing began. Why is emotion important? There are several answers out there, but to me, none seems complete. Here is why.

On December 15 of last year, Bruce Tempkin, whom I admire tremendously and follow on social media consistently, coined the phrase and declared 2016 as “The Year of Emotion”. He stated one of the reasons that emotion is important is that, “research shows that emotion is the component of customer experience that has the largest impact on loyalty” and continues with, “but it is also the area where companies are least adept and often seemingly ignore.” He certainly won’t get any argument from me there. I’ve been preaching that for years.

He also noted that “over the past few years, neuroscience and behavioral science research has begun to fuel new techniques for affecting human emotions.” I began that work many years ago as a graduate student, conducting studies on “interestingness” and its effect on memory, using the work of D. Berlyne and S. Hidi as the basis for my research. Based on my research findings, I realized then that emotion has a strong impact on what we remember and that interestingness is simply an umbrella term for ‘emotion evoking.’ Taking that one step further, I learned that if a company can tap into emotion strongly enough, the brand becomes the product; for example, Klennex rather than tissue, or in the South, Coke, which is used in many areas as synonymous for any cold drink. When that occurs, the brand takes on a persona of its own; it develops its own personality.

Now let’s move forward a bit. What is loyalty? It is an emotion. But what must a company do to provoke and promote it? The answer lies in a quantitative research finding that I discovered years ago. When a customer has an issue and that issue is resolved successfully, the person is more likely to remain a loyal customer, even over and above those who never experienced an issue. Why? Because of EMOTION, darn it! It’s all about delighting a customer and evoking EMOTION! That emotion gets linked to the brand and that is what causes a brand to become more than just the place where you make a deposit or buy your groceries. You LIKE the brand, just as you like certain people, because of its ‘personality.’ Just as we are loyal to those we care about, we are loyal to the brands we care about. Why? Because caring is an emotion.

So, knowing this, how do we use it? There are lots of methods, both qualitative and quantitative, out there for measuring and/or reporting on loyalty, and some that purport to measure emotion. I have yet to see one, however, that can pinpoint emotion to the degree needed to accurately develop concise messaging, branding, or customer service/experience emotions to the degree needed to truly be successful. The key to doing this is in combining the two research methods.

Using personalized interviews, in the past I have used qualitative research to uncover emotions and desires associated with a specific industry, brand or message, then developed quantitative testing based on those findings to pinpoint needed staff behavioral changes, messaging options, segments, etc. This methodology has allowed me great success in understanding customers’ needs, both emotional and rational, as well as who the primary target audience would be for specific actions and messages. Because I have spent so many years doing this work, I find it quite interesting that there is suddenly all this fuss about emotion. I guess I should have spent less time designing studies and digging into data sets, and spent more time seeing what others were up to.

So, to answer the question, “Why is emotion important?” It is important because emotion is in the Mind of the Customer™. It forms links in the mind to a specific brand or company and engenders loyalty, which in turn promotes larger share of wallet, referrals, higher customer experience ratings, and both organic and inorganic growth. It is important because of words like ‘caring, personality, and loyalty. It is important because from our earliest years, it is what drives us all.

You Can’t Blame A Guy For Trying

Last year around this time, we gave ABB a bit of a hard time for posting a very positive title on a pretty dismal annual return. Revenues for our industry in general have been so flat this year, that we just didn’t have the heart to give them grief again. We do however, want to summarize their return and commend them on their “glass half full” philosophy and some changes they are making to overcome the slump caused by the current economy.

To review, earlier this month ABB posted the following headline for its 2015 results:

ABB: increased profitability in changing markets

In summary, operational revenues are up (less than 1%), but revenues are down 11%, and orders are down 12% in U.S. dollars, compared to FY2014. Cash flow is also up, in part due to a 3% overall reduction in staffing (approximately 4,500 positions). Not exactly the results the headline would lead us to expect.

The exciting news is that ABB is moving forward with some exciting new offerings in areas not impacted by oil and gas; areas that will potentially drive profitable growth. For example, at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP21), ABB introduced a fast charging robot for public buses to enable sustainable, emission free public transportation. This solution removes the longstanding barrier typically associated with these systems, i.e., long charging times for short driving ranges, by incorporating an automated rooftop connection and a typical charge time of 4-6 minutes. The system is easily integrated into existing bus lines, and when combined with the new electric vehicle (EV) fast-charging services platform that ABB developed in partnership with Microsoft, it provides a sustainable transport solution and advanced management features. In addition, the ABB/Microsoft collaboration “will also take advantage of machine learning and predictive analytic capabilities to drive future innovations.”

Plans for profitability in FY 2016 are multifaceted. Part of ABB’s profitability initiative includes a “shift in the company’s center of gravity” which will realign its operating sectors into four groups, Power Grids, Electrification Products, Discrete Automation and Motion and Process Automation. There are also more job cuts on the horizon. ABB makes note of its white-collar productivity program which is “aimed at making the company leaner, faster and more customer focused. This program is focused on the three structural pillars: lean business functions, global shared services and market-oriented complexity reduction.”

We do offer one word of caution. It is difficult to save one’s way into a profit, and while trimming costs through payroll reduction and other operational efficiencies will increase cash flow, the only real way to increase profits in our industry is to provide fiscally healthy customers with innovative products and services that will meet their needs and help them perform more efficiently. ABB is definitely moving in that direction.