Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Why Software Developers Should Attend IMTS 2010

I wrote this for the IMTS Insider, but it is worth restating it  here.  If you go to the Who Should Attend IMTS section at IMTS you see the following:

  • Executives building a business
  • Decision makers involved in manufacturing equipment purchases
  • Engineers who identify equipment needs
  • Plant superintendent who will set it up
  • Operators who use the equipment and know it better than anyone else
  • All staff members and suppliers you count on for new ideas
  • I would like to add to that list:
  • Software Developers looking for innovative ways to build new applications.
  • Yes, IMTS has been largely about the hardware over the years with software somewhat under the covers.  But if you have been paying close attention over the years, you have noticed an increasing presence of software all throughout IMTS.  The size of the software section of IMTS continues to grow and in 2008 and the Emerging Technology Center (ETC) with MTConnect was the absolute hit of the show.

I would strongly encourage software developers to attend IMTS because we are witnessing an inflection point in manufacturing.  The inflection point I am referring to is the ability for software to be the "tail that wags the dog" in manufacturing.    You will see first hand how software will be the key purchase that truly improves productivity in all phases in manufacturing.  It will be software developers that will be commanding the big bucks in manufacturing - just like the computer industry.

What we like to say in the computer industry is, "while you date your hardware vendor, you marry your software vendor."   What this means is that it is much easier for a large enterprise to upgrade or swap out all their PCs then switch out all the Microsoft applications to to a different vendor.   Anyone who has gone through a transition to a new ERP system can appreciate this saying.
The somewhat hidden message in that saying is the importance of selecting the right software that has the ability to easily integrate and grow over time can not be overstated.

So, why should software developers go to IMTS?  Because it will be software that will just continue to grow and prosper in manufacturing.  Software developers should attend IMTS to learn about what is happening in manufacturing, see who the players are  and get in early on the manufacturing software boom.  Also, if you get a job offer, ask for lots of stock options :-)