Wonderware U.K. and Ireland boss John Bailey made his annual press briefing foray into the south of England in September, accompanied on this occasion not only by veteran PR consultant Jim Crowther – for those who remember DEC in the ’70s and ’80s, yes, that Jim Crowther – but also by newly appointed general manager Sue Roche. Roche’s appointment marks the latest attempt by Bailey to take a step back from the day-to-day management of the U.K. and Ireland Wonderware distributorship and to adopt something more akin to a chairman’s role across the group. Regular readers may recall that since early 2007 the former Pantek has been restructured and renamed as solutionsPT, although the Pantek name has been retained for the ultimate holding company. solutionsPT, in turn, operates through three divisions: softwarePT which conducts the Wonderware business under the Wonderware United Kingdom and Wonderware Ireland brands as part of Wonderware’s recently introduced Star Plus Gold distribution model; hardwarePT which, as its name implies, handles Pantek’s expanding hardware interests, including its distributorships for Stratus and Advantech; and emsPT, its developing enterprise manufacturing solutions operation.
In recruiting Roche, Bailey seems to be following the precedent set at Wonderware’s parent, Invensys Process Systems, where president and CEO Paulett Eberhart was selected not for any knowledge of the process automation industry, but for her business acumen. Similarly Roche has no experience at all of the manufacturing software sector, but brings to the role an MBA from Manchester Business School and 17 years experience in U.K. manufacturing and industrial environments, the last eight in senior or general management roles. Most recently she was head of channel marketing for APAC and Emerging Markets for Promethean, a Blackburn, U.K.-based global supplier and manufacturer of interactive white board technology and software solutions for the education market. The fact that her division was the fastest growing of a company expected to post 160% growth in the current financial year is some encouragement to a distributor faced with the ambitiously upgraded targets imposed by the new regime at Wonderware under recently appointed president Sudipta Bhattacharya.
Bailey’s belief is that what Wonderware U.K. and Ireland needs in these circumstances is not further technical input, but proven organizational and marketing skills. However, he’s not leaving her entirely devoid of technical back-up, having at the same time recruited Paul Edwards from U.K. ArchestrA-certified integrator Cougar Automation to act as “pre-sales technical consultant.” As well as having proven project management skills after 15 years with Cougar, Edwards is a certified Wonderware InTouch, Historian and Application Server developer and will provide technical backup to the Wonderware U.K. and Ireland sales teams, with the aim of ensuring that customers’ requirements are understood and that proposed solutions match them.
Double digit growth
Those revised targets come, says Bailey, on top of another year of double-digit growth for Wonderware in the U.K. and Ireland which has outstripped by a significant margin the growth of the market as a whole. That additional growth, he says, can be attributed in part to end users and integrators switching from custom-coded solutions, but probably more importantly to an increase in market share at the expense of competitors. That may go some way to explaining recent references by Rockwell chairman and CEO Keith Nosbusch to “less favorable market conditions in the U.S.A. and Europe” and “weakening macroeconomic conditions in Europe.”
But if growth has continued this year, where, given the ever worsening economic outlook, is it going to come from in the future? Bailey is looking to two developments in particular, one the opportunities created by Wonderware’s recent acquisition of SAT, the other the growing importance of MES. With SAT’s IntelaTrac, he argues, Wonderware will be pushing at an open door in the oil and gas, petrochemical and chemical sectors, but the challenge is to extend the potential market into such areas as pharmaceuticals and food and beverage. Developing solutions for regulated industries based on IntelaTrac will, he suggests, take longer than some, including Invensys’ CEO Ulf Henriksson, may have imagined.
Meanwhile, in the MES sector, emsPT has to walk a fine line between, on the one hand, building acceptance of sophisticated solutions by working directly with users in areas where integrators are unwilling to accept the risk and, on the other, being perceived by those same integrators as being in competition with them. Bailey believes, however, that such an approach is essential if his organization is both to deliver the growth that Wonderware is demanding of it and, at the same time, develop the confidence necessary among integrators to enable them to take on MES projects in their own right in the future. That however, he argues, can only be done by delivering “point solutions” to meet the specific needs of users rather than attempting to sell the concept of MES with promises of vague and ill defined benefits. The strength of the Wonderware offering based on ArchestrA, he argues, lies in its ability to populate the MES space with an ever-increasing range of point solutions integrated through a common platform.