This is a very interesting experience for me, because this is the first time in years, I think, that I've been at a user group meeting without having to help produce a show daily. I can actually go to the sessions I'm interested in, as opposed to the ones I have to cover. The choices are nearly overwhelming!
This is the Invensys Operations Management user group meeting, the second since the Great Reorganization that finally took advantage of the strengths of the companies Invensys bought in the 1980s and 1990s. Analysts, including me have been hoping that the venerable brands of Foxboro, Eurotherm, Sim-Sci Esscor, Avantis and Wonderware could be brought together in such a way as to leverage their strengths and diminish their weaknesses.
Well, it has happened. In a year, IOM has completed the reorganization, is finalizing branding, and is working on leveraging the strengths of its varied distribution channels, from direct sales to manufacturers' reps to stocking distributors to control system integrators. Steve Blair, President of IOM-USA said, "Our objective is to not mess up, and if we can do that, we'll come out of this with an immensely stronger distribution organization. We're working on the 'who does what' right noiw."
One of the most interesting things IOM is doing is figuring out how to replace the 27 year-old Foxboro I/A DCS without scaring off all its huge entrenched installed base.
But as the roadmap Sudipta Bhattacharya showed this morning indicates, InFusion, ArchestrA and InTouch are the future for the software part of I/A and the 100 Series controllers will be upgraded and improved. They also introduced a PAC this morning, and noted that the Eurotherm control system, that has mostly been treated as a red-headed step-child by the true Foxboro believers, will be going forward as the smaller control system it was intended to be.
With over 1100 attendees, and a roadmap that makes sense, IOM is serving notice that the "sick man of DCS" isn't. Sick, that is.
They have real challenges, and real product weaknesses, to be sure. But their willingness in the past year to rise innovatively to the many challenges they've already solved leads me to believe that if they don't lose their courage or the market goes to smash again, they'll rise to the occasion and IOM will flourish.