There is something different about this ICC.
There was the normal collection of thought leaders from Inductive Automation reflecting on the past year in the Ignition community, envisioning what the future holds for industry while sharing exciting glimpses of where the Ignition platform is headed and what that means for its users.
And there were those users in attendance—industry veterans and first-time ICC attendees—who gathered to share and to learn and to be inspired.
But this 2020 version of the Ignition Community Conference was virtual, of course, adapting to the state of the world while still delivering the core tenets of this eighth-annual event.
“This is our first fully virtual conference,” said Don Pearson, Inductive Automation vice president of sales and marketing. “And whether you’re just starting with Ignition or you’ve been using it for years, you will find some exciting announcements today. The ICC conference began in 2013 as a place where all of you brilliant industrial professionals could assemble and share your knowledge and enthusiasm. This year we can’t all get together in person, but I hope that same community spirit comes through in this virtual conference.”
Spoiler alert: it did.
Pearson went on to laud the Ignition community as the most innovative collection of industrial professionals in the world—a global network comprised of engineers, integrators, plant managers, IT pros, C-suite executives and industrial-automation experts doing amazing things in oil-and-gas, water, general manufacturing, discrete and process industries, food, automotive, energy, chemicals and more.
“We’re excited to see how this community continues to grow,” said Don, noting how attendance for ICC has increased every year. “We welcome you and thank you.”
Unprecedented times, seamless service of customers
“We are navigating unprecedented times,” added Inductive Automation Founder & CEO Steve Hechtman, who detailed how Inductive Automation—all the way back in March—formulated and launched a pandemic-response plan to ensure the seamless service of customers. “We never expected that many of our staff would be so much more efficient working remotely.”
Hechtman explained his company’s focus during this challenging period: improving productivity, organization and community support. “The silver lining is that remote work mandates that we reevaluate and refine our internal systems and procedures, and this has made us a far more efficient company.”
The CEO listed examples of this enhanced efficiency:
- Inductive Automation has improved support by bolstering its staff and support software system during the pandemic.
- They improved training and documentation with new courses and enhanced remote-training programs, prioritizing university engagement to connect with the next generation of controls professionals.
- They released Ignition Maker Edition, a free personal-use version of the flagship software to enable users to develop fun innovation projects at home.
- They reshaped Ignition Perspective to make it even easier for users to develop new working worlds.
- They released Ignition 8.1, a long-term supported version stocked with new features and functionalities, improved stability and ease of use, user-interface upgrades, and stronger back-end elements for larger-system users.
“This group makes the world go round. It is you and us who facilitate the production of almost everything made in the world. Thank you. We promise to continuously improve our product and company while adhering to our core values,” added Hechtman.
Following Hechtman’s remarks, Pearson touched on other recent Inductive Automation initiatives that facilitate communication and collaboration with its user community:
- Integrator roundtable meetings held each week to spur collaborations and information-sharing.
- The Ignition Community Live webcasts that draw huge audiences to explore novel applications of the software, such as the greenhouse in Sweden where owners monitor conditions with a home-built system.
- The ICC Discover Gallery, which spotlights the most innovative applications of Ignition from users reaping rewards in the real world.
- The Ignition Exchange, a new online community-driven library of free resources on a wide spectrum of industrial projects.
Insights from internal innovators
Then Pearson then passed the mic to his colleagues who explained their work over the past year, while previewing their ICC sessions that would follow this keynote. Directors of sales engineering Travis Cox and Kevin McClusky stressed the value in infinitely scalable industrial systems reliant on edge-to-cloud solutions.
“All of these products are about helping you focus on things that lead to innovation,” explained Cox. “That’s why we listen to you…our customers. You build amazing things.”
Next up were Ignition developers Colby Clegg and Carl Gould, who beamed about the new capabilities users will have with version 8.1 of Ignition. “It brings together the complete vision for Ignition—a game-changing platform for industrial visualization and application-building,” said Gould, sounding like a proud father.
Pearson then returned to close out the keynote and challenge the audience to continue to propel innovation with Inductive Automation tools. “This is really just the beginning for us,” he said. “Our cooperation is needed now more than ever. I believe the world needs this community and its best ideas and best innovations to overcome the new challenges we all face today. We can envision new possibilities. We can build a brighter tomorrow. And it can all start right here, right now.”