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Editor's Ramblings
The value of the original social networking events

by Manny Mandrusiak (Guest Contributor)  |   September, 2009

Fall brings a lot of things with it as the leaves begin to change color. Fall generally means the end of summer, and back to school. For those of us in the automation industry it means that it is time for return of the tradeshow in North America. I consider this to be the original form of social networking for the automation industry. This is the place where engineers, end-users and vendors met to exchange new ideas and display new products. This was the place where sales were made, and projects were often architected on the back of product data sheets under tradeshow floor fluorescent lights.

Like the economy, tradeshows have had their share of ups and downs over the past few years. Attendances are not what they once were, and vendors have to consider every dollar that they invest in a tradeshow booth. Despite all of the ups and downs, tradeshows continue to be an extremely effective source of lead generation, and product awareness. Next to actual training events, there is no better opportunity for product reps to get face time with end-users. In my opinion there is no better dollar spent than those that bring companies closer to their clients. It is this interaction with clients and end-users that provides the inspiration for product and hardware development throughout the industry.

A quick Google search for major vendors will tell you about the major tradeshows happening this fall. Some of my favorites are: the the Emerson Exchange, Wonderworld 2009, and Rockwell Automation Fair . Each of these tradeshows offers unlimited opportunities for interaction with corporate staff, and distributors; as well as a fantastic opportunity to attend built in training.

End-users benefit from being able to access unlimited resources when it comes to architecting a system using any of the three corporate giant’s offerings. That is the true beauty about attending these shows. A systems architect can sit with all the key individuals needed to ask the proper questions about the ins and outs of building a particular system based on the individual project connectivity needs. Design help, product information, and sales support are never more than a few feet away at any of these vendor specific events. This quality makes these events continually well attended, and well covered by the media.

There are also more vendor neutral tradeshow events that exist this fall. The most notable is the ISA EXPO 2009 happening in Houston this fall. The ISA has taken a unique approach this year in putting together its’ ISA EXPO agenda. As an organization they have considered the economy, and partnered with groups like the ARC Forum to create an event that truly stretches an end-users’ travel dollar. Toted as North America’s only “true vendor-neutral technical conference for instrumentation, automation, and control professionals, the ISA EXPO boasts a packed schedule of keynote speakers, forums, panels, hands-on workshops, and tradeshow floor interaction with some of North America’s top automation and process vendors”.

There are also organizations that are looking at taking training events closer to home. Realizing that the current economic downturn has restricted travel, the PTO (formerly the PROFIBUS Trade Organization) has taken it upon them to bring the events directly to the end-users. What is that old saying” If Mohamed won’t come to the mountain, then the mountain must come to Mohamed”. Creating a series of one day Fieldbus training events, the PTO has been extremely successful at creating an environment for end-users to reap the benefits of tradeshow training classes in a convenient one day format. PTO fieldbus training classes exist for PROFIBUS, PROFINET, and PROFIBUS PA technologies. Information can be found at .

In closing, no matter what events you attend this fall I encourage you to get out there and share your ideas. Interact, market, sell, construct, discover, and learn. These are all the things that make us all professionals at what we do inside this industry. By attending Tradeshows this fall you as individuals not only gain from expanding your horizons, you impart your knowledge and participation into expanding ours as an industry. A drill instructor that I had once told me that the horizon was always a fixed point you will always reach. The key to real adventure was to find a group of people who were compelled to seek what is beyond the horizon. You find those people, and they will show you the path to the future”. I have always figured that those people exist at tradeshows because tradeshows are the place where innovations, and ideas for the future, are born amongst the many sets of fluorescent lights. To me, that is the true meaning of social networking. Sorry Twitter, I will take human interaction over a Tweet anytime.

Until next month, take care.

Manny Mandrusiak
Guest Editor
Director of Technology Marketing for the PTO
Vice President of OPC Marketing for the OPC Foundation

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