Tonight I got a really good look at just how big Advantech is, in the world outside North America, and also in the world outside process automation. I finally got to meet Ming Chin Wu, Advantech's President, and found him a considerably knowledgeable individual, about his business, and about automation issues in general. I got to meet several "partners" like Tom Barczak, from InSource Solutions in Baltimore, who also happens to be a major Wonderware distributor, and Arman Saffari, managing director of Patsa Industry in Tehran, who has been an Advantech distributor for decades. There were lots of partners from Europe, Asia, and the Middle East here for the World Partner Conference. The theme of the conference is Globalization and Collaboration. Advantech, like other large global enterprises, is working on integrating its business units and partner channels better, across the globe. They understand, they say, the need for this to continue to operate profitably in a world where simply being in a low-cost-of-manufacture area isn't enough any more. Advantech is going to be placing more emphasis on direct marketing and selling, said John Liou, director of sales for direct marketing for North America and Europe. We had a nice chat reviewing the competition from Omega, AutomationDirect, ezAutomation, and others. At the same time, Advantech is committed to working with its channel partners, according to Wesley Moore, channel manager for North America. Advantech is much more than an automation company, too. And it is far bigger than people in North America and Europe really understand. It is extremely likely that Advantech will appear on both the North America Top Fifty and the Global Top Fifty report that Larry O'Brien and I are putting together for the December issue. As I write this, it is 11:15 am in Chicago, and 12:15 am the next morning in Shanghai. I'm off to bed.