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Tom Cutler

Editor's Ramblings
The future of Automation lies in Twitter

by Manny Mandrusiak (Guest Contributor)  |   January

I was recently involved in a conversation that became quite heated about "whom" the exact person is that will make the decisions about designing the plant systems of tomorrow? One of the individuals involved in the discussion stated that the future of automation systems will lie with the large automation players: the Siemens, Rockwell's, and the Honeywell's etc. His theory was that the major players will influence the trend of how systems will be architected through control of market share, and evangelism. While I agree with some of his comments, I disagree with his corporate way of thinking. It was a fine way of thinking 10 years ago, but the thing that I think that is missed in looking toward the future is "Who will be the decision maker in automation ten years from now"? Keep reading and I will explain who I think it is.

We live in an age of massive technological advances in the way that we receive, and seek information. Schools are no longer teaching the memorization of facts and figures, they are teaching how to ask the right questions to search for the answers that are required over the internet. We live in an age of rapid information transfer in our nonworking lives. Let's face facts, a viral video on YouTube about a baby dancing to a Beyonce song travels much faster than the latest debate about immigration or healthcare reform. An individual in India or Japan will have access to the video at the same instant as someone in North America.

The individual who will influence the future of building automation systems is more than likely sitting at the edge of the couch texting their friends or reading Tweets on Twitter. It is that young mind that will look toward all of these new communication mediums for information on which products and technologies to use and adopt in the future. This individual will search the internet for the answers to their questions. Read the reviews of products and technologies on forums and blogs; aswell as view product demonstrations on You Tube and Flickr. Reviews from individuals all over the world will be easily accessible by anyone with a mobile device 24 hours a day.

These advances in communications technologies have forced technology companies to improve quality control over products and offer an increased level of customer service to continue to ensure brand loyalty. It is an exciting time to be a Marketer in the technology field as there is so much room for exploring unconventional techniques. There is also a great satisfaction in acquiring unsolicited reviews of products and technologies on the web from end-users.

In closing I think that is a unique opportunity for those seasoned engineering professionals to take a moment and see what the engineer of the future is looking at, and what opinions they have about the information that they are seeing. I try to live my own life by the creed: "If you do what you have always done, then you will get what you have always gotten." Life is about constant learning and evolution, and I think that those of us in the automation space are often reluctant to embrace new ideas and mediums because we have always done have worked, and is proven. I'm not saying that watching a You Tube video is going to cause you to dump your current control system, but it may show you where it can be improved, or expanded.

The future is uncertain, but the individual who will be responsible for it probably just Tweeted that they are going to the mall. Companies looking to stay on the cutting edge of automation technology need to embrace the fact that they way future engineers are receiving their information about products and technologies has changed, and they need to change with it to remain competitive.

Interested individuals can follow the OPC Foundation on Twitter @

Let me know what social media channels you use, and what you would like to see from the the OPC Foundation. (YouTube video tutorials etc.)

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