Smart *—I see live people

May 25, 2022
Business suits & swimsuits.

I write this column from the Honeywell Users Group 2022 in steamy Orlando, Florida, where the outside air chokes your throat and the conditioned air inside chills your fingertips. (Please excuse any tpyos.) This is a big daddy of the event season, welcoming more than 1,000 pros to convene around smart solutions that enable, as Honeywell puts it, a “successful transition to a livable world.” 

Amen to that. 

Since it’s the first such in-person event after a multi-year hiatus (thanks a lot, COVID), attendees and organizers here are excited. Look…there’s an actual face-to-face conversation in the demo area! Wow…I just spotted a few professionals having a glass of wine together! And each morning before full days of presentations and meetings and demonstrations get started, new human connections are made over the breakfast buffet line. Please pass the tongs. 

What used to be mundane is now marvelous. Those intangibles that happen when we convene in person with actual people are fondly remembered and enthusiastically enacted by those of us here—chance encounters, new and renewed friendships, fast-tracked progress on initiatives that might have languished in email inboxes forever. 

It’s amazing what shaking hands and rubbing elbows can accomplish.

During strolls through the lobby of the JW Marriott hotel where this “HUG” conference was held I encountered dozens of vacationing families coming back from bike rides or drip-dripping their way back from the pool. We were in Orlando, remember.

Whenever I am in those positions—business-suited and jealously eyeing the sunbathing set or, on the flip side, swimsuited and sharing a space with conventioneers—I consider how this intermingling of bikinis and briefcases is, probably, a very healthy thing. When you’re logging long hours at business events like this, fleeting interactions with vacationers remind you of why you work as hard as you do. Consider it inspiration. And when you’re sandaled and sipping a pina colada surrounded by business people closing business deals, the drinks tend to taste a little sweeter, don’t they? Consider it sunscreen schadenfreude.

My travel calendar is busier than it has been in two years—I’ve got two more trips to Orlando on my immediate to-do list. Based on the live-event schedule for those of us who operate in this industrial space, it looks like we’re heading back to normalcy. (Or as normal as central Florida can get.) Maybe I’ll see you at one of these gatherings in the coming months. I’m packing both my business and swimsuits.

Chris McNamara is editor in chief of Smart Industry