When Diana Nyad came out of the water in Key West, Fla., after succeeding on her fifth attempt to swim the 110 miles from Cuba to Florida, "She told reporters something very interesting," said Steve Sonnenberg, Emerson Process Management president and CEO, to the nearly 3,000 attendees of his keynote speech Monday at the 2013 Emerson Global Users Exchange. "She said that it looks like swimming is a solitary sport, but in reality it is a team sport.
"She's the hero of the story, the one who made the swim. But she relied on a team of nearly 40 people who were her trusted advisors on everything from navigation avoiding jellyfish stings, Sonnenberg said. "My goal is for you to think of Emerson as part of your team—as your trusted advisor—when it comes to automation."
Emerson's focus in 2013 has been to make the needed changes to earn that trust—changes customers asked for in their responses to "thousands of surveys," Sonnenberg said. He outlined the four elements of its strategic direction—introduced last year—that provide a framework for Emerson's efforts to earn a role as your trusted advisor: Connecting to customers; technology innovation; lifecycle services; perfect execution.
To better connect with customers, "Our aim is to intimately understand your situation, your pains and your goals so we can provide solutions that are right for you," said Sonnenberg.
Emerson is strengthening its industry expertise and solutions capabilities. It now has "more than 800 industry, application and technology specialists who work together—and with you—to solve your toughest problems," Sonnenberg said.
Emerson is also developing pre-engineered, industry solutions—proven combinations of technologies and services tailored to specific applications.
Sonnenberg said. "We have over 20 such solutions so far, with many more on the way."
The second area is technology innovation, traditionally an Emerson strength. Here Sonnenberg emphasized continuing investments in human-centered design—designing products for the way people work instead of making people change the way they work to fit the products.
"We're applying human-centered design to more products all the time—even re-designing some of our existing products for better usability and maintainability," Sonnenberg said.
Another trend is pervasive sensing, where the falling costs of sensors and wireless technology are accelerating their use to address business-critical issues such as reliability, energy, safety, health and environment. Emerson introduced five new wireless products this year and have several more planned for next year. "The adoption rate for Smart Wireless is astounding and is now approaching 2 billion operating hours in the field," Sonenberg said. "It shows this is another innovation that you clearly found useful."
The final way Emerson is accelerating technology advancements is through acquisition, most recently of Virgo Valves and Controls, which will enhance Emerson's ability to supply engineered on-off valves, especially for oil and gas operations.
The third element in Emerson's strategic direction is strengthening lifecycle services. Emerson has added seven new service centers and expanded others. Over the next two years it plans to add 12 more, for a total to more than 400. It also added 215 additional service people this year, for a total of almost 2,700, and deploying centers close to customers so they'll get faster response.
The fourth and final strategic element is perfect execution. "To help you improve your operations, we need to improve our own operations," Sonnenberg said. "In particular, we need to be easier to do business with. That includes having simpler business processes, consistent project execution and delivery dates you can count on."
Emerson's ability to draw on both local and global resources can bring significant force to bear on a problem or project anywhere in the world, and it has added more than 500 project personnel in the past year, bringing the total to more than 5,100. It's also extending the role of its Project Management Office, which develops common tools, processes and project expertise.
"By combining those elements, we're working to become problem-solvers and trusted advisors, to make Emerson Process Management easier to do business with," Sonnenberg concluded.
"You are the true heroes of every automation story, whether it's a greenfield project, an upgrade or turnaround for an existing unit, or just keeping everything running the way it's supposed to be, day in and day out. You may not always get the credit you deserve—which is why my predecessor, John Berra, called you the ‘unsung heroes'—but I have some understanding what you're up against and what it takes to reach your goals.
"My hope is that you'll let us help you get there—that when you run into obstacles or need a hand or just some advice, you'll trust us to be part of your team."