Pandemic, pivots & (perpetually) people pushing progress

July 7, 2020
A letter from the editor.

By Chris McNamara, Smart Industry editor in chief

This sucks. There’s no mincing words when describing the world we’ve lived in—professionally and personally—for the past few pandemic-clouded months. It’s a sad, scary, bleak, confusing, unprecedented period in our collective history.

But there is hope—on a daily basis I am witnessing ways we’re pulling ourselves out of this mess, professionally and personally. Stories of big-hearted people in the industrial space performing inspirational acts have brightened our website. Frankly, I receive too many of these positive press releases to publish, but kudos to all of the manufacturers who have pivoted their operations to produce personal protective equipment and to all of the solution-providers who have offered their software free of charge to enable remote maintenance of facilities.

Those stories are encouraging. We are honored to share them.

Once we gain a little more distance and some perspective from this period, we’re going to recognize how drastically this crisis has accelerated automation. In short—the pandemic has propelled countless digitalization efforts.

Data reveals it. So, too, do the anecdotes from many of the presenters from our recent Base Camp Digital webinar program—professionals are witnessing and/or contributing to the quickened pace of implementation of remote-monitoring programs, or drones to perform inspections of dangerous locations, or AI to inform autonomous production within plants. Digital initiatives that were once merely something to consider have become critical to staying afloat.

I encourage you to read those inspirational stories at and attend, in an on-demand capacity, our lineup of Base Camp Digital webinars. (You can even pose questions to the webinar presenters via email…how cool is that?)

The breadth of IIoT topics covered during Base Camp Digital is impressive. We are thrilled with the depth of expertise on display throughout those sessions. (Of course, we weren’t surprised by the smarts showcased by representatives of Inductive Automation and GE Digital, Accenture and Intel and more.) We are energized by the rate of turnout for the live broadcasts of these sessions and are continuously pleased with the trend of our community members attending events like this “Netflix style”…when you want, where you want.

There is a huge hunger for knowledge, currently, and an eagerness to find it—if not in person at a traditional conference, then online (either live or on demand) while you’re driving or working out or reading emails at your desk.

I suspect we’re all a bit starved for positive human interaction during this lockdown period; inspirational stories can counter-balance negative news, while webinars can provide a smidgen of socializing to an otherwise digital day.