The Roaming Editor at CSIA

I feel a little like the Roaming Gnome from the commercials...People keep asking me to go places and sit down in chairs. This week I'm blogging from the 12th Annual Executive Conference of CSIA, the Control and Information System Integrators Association. I've been involved with CSIA for a number of years, first as an interested party, then as a representative of ISA, then as a consultant, and finally as an editor. I find the CSIA meeting generally to be one of the two or three best of the year and I learn more every year. Most of the associate members (vendor companies) tell me that it is one of their most important, too. The reason for this is that system integrators are a fast-growing part of the automation community, and because the trends toward downsizing and outsourcing aren't diminishing in scope, system integrators are likely to continue to be an ever more important part of the controls landscape. But both vendors and process and discrete manufacturing companies have sometimes not had the correct view of what a system integrator is, or what a system integrator does. Over the years, CSIA has done much to increase the professional standing of the integrator in the community. It used to be that anybody could open up his garage door and say, "Yup. Last week I were a PLC tech, now I are an Inty-Grator." No longer. The integrator of today must have both engineering and business smarts, and be a well-organized, agile competitor. Comments? --Walt Boyes