2018 Smart Industry Conference: Day 1

Sept. 24, 2018
Kicking off, diving in.

The 2018 Smart Industry Conference kicked off with tours of three local facilities capitalizing on digital capabilities. One shuttle headed east to the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute, a showcase for modern machines and the thought-leaders who operate them. Another bus headed to the Alter Brewing Company, where the relationship between data and beer was explored. And the last group traveled to the TRUMPF Smart Factory to see advanced metal-fabricating machines and their respective digital twins.

Presentations followed a networking lunch. After some introductory remarks by Smart Industry VP of Content Keith Larson that explored the growth of digital transformation in parallel to this fourth-annual conference, Spencer Stuart’s Suzanne Burns took the stage to explain how changes within enterprises’ work culture must precede successful digital transformations. She described workplace culture as the unspoken rules that have a massive, underestimated influence, particularly during the implementation of new digital strategy.

Spencer Stuart's Suzanne Burns

Next up was the panel discussion “Organizational Transformation in an Age of Information Abundance,” during which the IoT Talent Consortium’s Trent Salvaggio moderated Marie Getsug of Jacobs Engineering Group, Mahyar Khosravi or Canvass Analytics and Hicham Wazni or Arconic. All on the panel agreed that, during this period of unprecedented access to data, it is the insights that can be gleaned from that information that is the real goal of digital-transformation efforts.

"Have you seen major changes driven by this new access to information?” asked Salvaggio.

Khosravi responded that, with his enterprise’s reliance on Artificial Intelligence, data is critical. “You can’t do AI without a lot of information,” he said. “The problem is the human brain’s capacity to process that data.”

Wazni detailed his team’s hiring of data scientists to help process the mountains of data they are now producing, and the challenge of folding those new hires into the corporate culture. And Getsug stressed the importance of properly aligning digital-transformation tactics with one’s digital transformation strategy.

After a short break, Air Liquide’s Arnold “Marty” Martin presented on the impact digitalization (or “IoT-ization”) has on the customer relationships. Next, AGCO’s Peggy Gulick wowed the crowd with the breadth of her enterprise’s digital-transformation projects—augmented reality, Google Glass, Artificial Intelligence, etc. She elicited laughs when she admitted that, during early efforts at AGCO, “We didn’t know we were doing the Internet of Things, but we were.”

Day 1 of the Smart Industry Conference presented by Stratus Technologies concluded with cocktails and speed-networking, enabling attendees to connect with peers, potential partners and old friends, exchanging business cards after a full day of exchanging ideas.