In January, I published the article linked below about important market transitions and what industrial automation suppliers & distributors could do about them. Here’s an update with a few SURPRISES and some I TOLD YOU SO… either way, it’s STILL time for you to act!

I said Amazon is for real. It’s now September and they’re growing stronger every day. I searched for industrial products and found thousands of new and used products available there, along with books and training and other forms of help. If you don’t have a great plan in the works, you may want to re-read my original advice. Kudos to those who shifted to include high-value-add services, added and featured more technical expertise, and improved, targeted marketing. For the others, it’s still not too late, and I told you so.

I said Boomers are retiring. Wow! The impact is much larger than I originally thought, with dramatic affects on literally every department in every company. I’m proud of the investments that some of your companies are making in training, communication, recruiting and job redefinition… but shocked by the passive stance and waving of arms by others. None of the amazing technology trends comes close to the impact of the changing workforce. The good news… its probably not too late if you spend some serious time and effort on real organizational development to remake your company… Surprise for the worse!

I said Industrial Internet of Things is real. Today, the technologies continue to evolve, and are incredibly useful, however bad behavior from too much hype and too many vendors labeling their products IIoT ready (for no apparent reason) is causing the manufacturing base to pause and become skeptical. If you can cut through the hype and really help customers apply these technologies, there are great benefits. Unfortunately, that’s tougher today. The opportunity & challenge is still out there… told you so.

I said The way your customers do projects and purchase products & services is changing. And are they ever! Since January, I’ve been told customers don’t even have time to “check in” a sales person and get them coffee, since they are now doing 3-4 jobs due to lean, the last economic downturn, Boomer retirements, and lack of new employee training programs. You can still shift your customer-facing resources to align with their challenges…Their change is permanent… Sorry to say, I told you so.

I said IT/OT Convergence is real. Yes, and surprise… now there are additional voices from analytics, corporate database, and mobile dashboard experts all with differing opinions, agendas and expertise. Consider adding talent that speaks those “languages” and can help guide multiple stakeholders and disciplines in a common direction. Surprise with the new voices.

I said Cyber security is for real. Today, it continues to be an important, although quieter topic. While still a chaotic market, IEC-62443 and focused efforts from several groups are beginning to gain the traction needed to provide companies with the protection they need. We can’t let the “quiet” lull us into complacency. This fight will be there a long time. Sorry, but I told you so.

What does it all mean? I’ve been labelled an optimist by some, and I will proudly wear that label to say I do think there are actions you can take based on these changes that can help you and your business grow more so in the next few years than likely in the past 20.

WHAT ARE YOU SEEING? I’d love to hear from you. Not sure where to start? Let’s talk. – Brian