Ignition Community Live: Behind the Scenes of IntegrateLive!58 min video / 48 minute read
Co-Founder and Creative Guide
Co-Founder and Technical Guide
Co-Director of Sales Engineering
You already know Inductive Automation helps build great SCADA solutions and information platforms ... but did you know they have also helped build an incredible friendship resulting in a new community that is uniting industrial automation changemakers from around the world? Learn more about this exciting new project as we are joined by Allen Ray (head of the Ignition Cross-Industry Collective) and Jeff Knepper (Canary Labs) for what is sure to be an entertaining episode where we look behind the scenes at what it takes to build a service-oriented community.
Kevin: Hello everyone, and welcome to Ignition Community Live. This is the next edition of it, this is Episode 36, Behind the Scenes of IntegrateLive!, and this is exciting. I think that probably a good portion of you who have come to this Ignition Community Live are already familiar with the content that we're gonna be talking about; we gave a little bit of information about it inside, what we were sharing there at the beginning and inside the description, and we're happy to have you here as part of this overall. So very quickly about me, I'm Kevin McClusky. I'm acting as the host moderator today, and I am the Co-Director of Sales Engineering here at Inductive Automation. I've been with the company for going on 13 years now, so it's been... It's been quite a while. I work with a lot of our customers on big enterprise rollouts, architecture discussions, new features that we have in the product, and also new things that they're adding to their Ignition applications and work. I'm an engineer by training and by trade, and so I love all the nuts and the bolts and the bits and the bites, that is something that we probably won't get into too much in today's conversation, but it's certainly something that the questions can direct us toward if they wanted to.
Kevin: But today's conversation is with these two gentlemen who have been doing some really cool things inside the community, so rather than me doing a poor job at introducing them, I'll go ahead and ask them to introduce themselves. You can see their smiling mugs on their webcam right now, so Allen Ray, let's start with you.
Allen: Thank you, Kevin. My name's Allen Ray, I am the Co-Founder and Technical Guide of IntegrateLive!, and have the pleasure of really working with Jeff, not just with IntegrateLive!, but the history we've had, and so it has been a joy to be able to combine our history together and then really exaggerate our strengths to make each other better.
Kevin: Thanks, Allen, and Jeff, go ahead.
Jeff: Everyone, hi, good morning. My name's Jeff Knepper as Allen mentioned Co-Founder with him at IntegrateLive!, and I am Allen's creative complement to his technical knowledge. So high relationship drive, I'm the Labrador, I suppose if we were in, you're more of the technician, you're the Doberman, Allen. That's how that...
Allen: I'm good with that.
Jeff: There you go. See, I know you would be.
Kevin: Starting with some good analogies here. On a personal note, both Allen and Jeff, we go back a long time, so I met Jeff years ago, and I believe CSIA Conference was the first place that we met, and then Allen, I've known for years just from his industry involvement and work with Ignition and all the technologies that surround it, and so it's been fun to have a relationship and build it over the years. And so on a personal note, I'm very excited to be talking to you guys here and also sharing our conversation with the rest of the community.
Jeff: Thanks, Kevin.
Kevin: So today's agenda, but we could talk through this quickly, I skip past the animation there, now, I think that it's showing up right. So actually Jeff, let me turn it over to you, you can just mention each one of these guys quickly, and then we could dig into the conversation after that.
Jeff: Yeah. So we're gonna have a lot of conversation today and we're gonna talk through just Allen and I's backstory, how we got into automation, how we became involved with Inductive Automation, how Allen and I met each other. What is the ethos, the why... The story behind IntegrateLive!, where are we headed? And can't wait to get the feedback from your audience. I do wanna go ahead and just ask for two like two graces and mercies. Number one, I can guarantee you at least five times I will refer to Inductive Automation, the company as Ignition, and I don't know if you're in the audience, you do the same like put that in the chat, I have such a hard time of not calling the company the product, because the product is just on top of my mind all the time, and...
Kevin: That's such a problem with a single product company, right? That's pretty much what we sell. We do training and we do other editions of Ignition, but it's not like we have five different software packages; we've got one platform, so I think that we can forgive you, Jeff.
Jeff: And we've got a lot of... Let's also just call it out, we've got a lot of similarities in naming of IntegrateLive!, Ignition Community Live, Inductive Automation. Integrate that we're gonna stumble on it, so... Just laugh at us when we do. And we'll just move on.
Allen: Here's the point that I think is important in that discussion, because the reason Ignition gets used more than Inductive Automation is because Ignition evokes a passion and an excitement whenever you talk about it within this community. Right? And I'm not saying Inductive Automation doesn't, but Inductive Automation is the... Is kind of the brick and mortar of the... What you're building, what you built was an incredible community based around Ignition, and so that evokes emotion and so I'm okay calling it, hopefully Inductive Automation is, but I'm perfectly okay referencing you guys as Ignition because it brings about a level of excitement within our community.
Kevin: Oh, well, Jeff's right, it's a mistake to call us Ignition, but just mainly giving you a hard time, Allen. No, it's not a big deal, we certainly refer to ourselves as Inductive Automation and laugh a little bit when folks refer to us as Ignition, but at the same time every... Lots and lots of folks do it, it doesn't bother me at all.
Allen: That would be one mistake that I'm okay with based off all the other mistakes I'm gonna make today, so I'm good with it.
Jeff: Okay. There we go.
Kevin: It sounds good. Well, alright, let's go ahead and dig in. So that we can make our mugs large here, I can pull this out, you might be able to see our webcams, and I just turned off the screen sharing right here, and I don't know if it's gonna give you a default slide or not, but regardless you can... If it is giving you a default slide, you can still pull up our webcams and you can make this big on the screen, and we can just talk through some of these things that we just mentioned and basically have a conversation here. One of the nice things about IntegrateLive!, which is part of what we're talking about today, which is something that Allen and Jeff are going to dig deeper into, is that it's really conversational, it's really about folks having a relationship and talking through things that are interesting to the whole community. We decided that it would be nice to try to channel that during today's Ignition Community Live here as well, so we're doing a little bit of a different format than we normally do, but... I've been enjoying it so far. And Jeff and Allen hopefully you are. Maybe you guys can talk a little bit about the first item we just talked about there, the journey into automation, and Jeff, this time starting with you.
Jeff: Yeah, thanks. So I'm not a degreed engineer, anybody that knows me would not have to guess hard at that. I had no idea that industrial automation was such a niche field or the number of verticals within it, I didn't know anything really about it. But seven or eight years ago from moving to Central Pennsylvania, I met the men that had founded Canary, my current employer. Started a conversation with them, I heard a lot of great things about the product, but what they considered shortcomings on the sales and business side of the product, and that was my background. My background was in sales to marketing, small to medium business management, building teams, leading teams, and we said, “Hey, this could be a really interesting fit.” So I had a lot of hesitation, because I was jumping into a field... I didn't know what a PLC was. I didn't know the first thing about it. I knew raw goods went in one side of the factory and some type of a finished product came out the other side, but I started taking a day or two each week, and for four to six months. I took my days off from the current job and would go into Canary and spend six to eight hours learning the product, learning the people, sitting in on calls, and by the time that was over, I think it was a seven or maybe an eight-step plan that I had that I thought, man, if we do...
Jeff: If we can execute this, this company is gonna grow like crazy. They took a chance on me, I took a chance on them, and it's been a great relationship, and so... It's funny, I felt like such a fraud, there's still moments where I feel like a fraud, to be honest, because I don't have that technical, deep background that a lot of people do. And it wasn't until maybe two years of spending time in boardrooms and meetings with engineers meeting with all these specialists that I started to realize, “Hey, your knowledge has hit a place where you could start to add value." I don't know about you guys. I'm a passionate learner. I consider one of my greatest gifts to be that drive for lifelong learning. There's been times I've taken a few boot camps on Java, I've done... We were joking around earlier, I've learned regular expressions because it applies to Canary's product. So I've proven to myself that I have the technical ability to do it if I wanted to, I think. But it's definitely outside of my job scope, like if I find myself sitting down and if I'm supposed to be writing C# script, then something has gone horribly wrong within our company and I probably shouldn't be doing that, so... Yeah, that's kind of... Kind of my background. Yeah.
Kevin: Yeah. Thanks for sharing and... It's fun to hear a little bit about that. I've known you for years, but I've never really asked that question or had that understanding of where you came from. You actually... From your own words, you have felt like an impostor right? As an impostor, you fake it very well, so... Great, and that's not super kind but... I'm saying it tongue in cheek, I'm joking like, I wouldn't have been able to peg you as someone who didn't know a lot about historians before coming over to Canary, because by the time I met you, we were able to have a deep conversation, we were able to talk about some of the technical behind the scenes. I'm an engineer, and that stuff is near and dear to my heart right? And I was able to hop in and have a conversation with you where it answered those questions, and we were talking about compression ratios and we were talking about data storage format for things that are going in and all of that stuff was... Yeah, you came across as an engineer to me, Jeff, so, well done.
Jeff: Well, I think for anybody who's listening this could add value to... I've never been afraid to say, "Hey, I don't know. I don't know that word, I don't know that term, I don't understand that acronym. Will you teach me?" And that's... There's no faster way to develop a relationship with somebody than to sit at their feet and say, "Hey, do you have something for me? Will you take time out of your busy and if you will, I'll latch onto what you say," and so I think that ties back to that learning... My mentor while growing up was a brilliant attorney named Martin Palmer in Hagerstown, Maryland. And he once told me that what changes us are the books that we read and the people that we meet, and I believe that to be very, very true. If we're not reading and consuming, if we're not meeting and growing from those relationships where... Yeah, then we would be impostors right? We would be faking it. So yeah, I'm glad I fooled you, Kevin.
Kevin: I think maybe you... Simply weren't giving yourself enough credit, maybe the only one you fooled is yourself.
Jeff: Hey, there we go. So this is a good transition because Allen and I have a similar kind of like story when it comes to this, this concept of just being ordinary common dudes that have found themselves in positions that...
Jeff: Undeserved. That's right, you wanna... That's a good segue. Allen, you share your experience...
Allen: Mine is... My story is... Starts in high school. My senior year in high school, we... I got married, had a kid. And dropped out.
Jeff: That's exactly what you want... That's exactly, so that is the life advice for everybody listening, that is the plan.
Allen: If you wanna eventually be a senior operational technology architect, that's the route you wanna take. And just laying it out there, it worked for me, it'll work for you. One plus one equals four. I get it. So...
Kevin: Start as a high school dropout and everything's groovy and smooth sailing from there.
Allen: I went to work on a drilling rig and ended up working offshore on offshore drilling rigs, on the drilling and operation side, and then I had this incredible opportunity to spend five weeks on an offshore platform, working kind of as an assistant to the electrician, and something clicked with me and I just was soaking up everything he was telling me, so I was spending anywhere from 16 to 17 hours, I would spend... We were working 12 on, 12 hours on 12 hours off, I would work that 12-hour shift with him, and then I would spend six, seven hours reading and doing homework he gave me.
Allen: I did that for like five weeks, I did go home for two days, my wife finally said I had to go home, in that five weeks, so I went home two days out of that five weeks. At the end of that five weeks, his name is Horace Sharplin, he grabbed me and took me up to the superintendent's office and said, "Have you found the electrician yet"? And they said, "No." He said, "Well, I'm retiring next week. This is your electrician," and he walked out of the office. And the superintendent and the tool pusher looked at me and said, "Can you do it?" I said, "Absolutely." I had no idea that I could... I actually didn't think... You talk about an impostor. That was when I was truly an impostor, but I got this...
Allen: I literally was made a drilling electrician on an offshore platform. And through a ton of prayer and sweat in a whole year of just sheer panic, the platform never had downtime, I was able to always kinda figure it out, and that was really my journey from being in operations in the technical and got moved to another offshore platform and they didn't have anybody who would work on the old Freon and analog microwaves, but they had all the test equipment and they have all the books there. So I taught myself how to do the maintenance on all those old microwave systems that led to me being given the opportunity to spend three years changing all of that equipment out to new digital equipment, so me and another guy changed all the telecommunication stuff out on 11 offshore platforms and realized I didn't wanna do telecom, it was not what I wanted to be, so I went back to doing some programming and instrumentation, electrical, and I got hired as a senior programmer when I shouldn't have been, but I was given the opportunity, I took it, and I went through the cycle of programming and then leading a bunch of software engineers.
Allen: Then we're seeing all the capital projects in the oil and gas company to managing an integration company, to finally this very unique situation where I love my job. I felt like I was doing really good at just managing this oil and this integration company, but we adopted a special needs child and we adopted him from Hawaii. We had to move to Hawaii to adopt him, and through some really strange circumstances because of my insurance, the way things went, I was literally having a conversation with my wife about leaving her in Hawaii for maybe six months while I moved back to California with our other kids, until we could get his Med-QUEST transferred over to Medi-Cal. That next day, I get a phone call from a company called Aera Energy that said, "Hey, we'd like to offer you a job." I said, "Hey, how does your insurance work?" And they said, "It works the day you start, you get insurance." And I said, "Can I start on October 20th, 2008?" And they said yes, and we flew home two days later with our new adopted son with no insurance, but enough medication to last us two weeks, started work on Monday, our son got into the doctor that Monday morning with my wife, and that really was the mechanism that got me to Aera Energy.
Allen: What's special about that is 2013, 2013 I'll never forget the day because it was our team around in a conference room and Travis Cox is on the, in the video chat, and that he's gonna give us a demo of Ignition and first of all, I'll just say... I think all of us have probably been there one time, but had zero confidence that Ignition could ever perform what we needed in a large industrial space, but he did some...
Allen: 2013, Well, this was my opinion of Inductive Automation, see that Kevin and Ignition, before I knew anything about them. Their price point, I was convinced because of their price, they would never be able to function within our industry.
Allen: The moment I asked Travis, I said, “Can you show me how you take a tag from a PLC and send it to a database, and then show me how I can get data from a database back to a PLC,” and he did it within three minutes and at that moment I was... That was it. I was all in, I was like, I will do whatever it takes to get this product ready for our industry, 'cause it is going to transform the way we handle data, and that was my journey into one, working with Inductive Automation. Two, really into that Digital Transformation of, "Hey, can we think about our industrial control systems in a manner that will transform the data and actually be able to start to leverage it as value for our companies?" But we took our team to Folsom, we drove down there three, four times a year for three or four days at a time.
Allen: And the interaction, the collaboration, working with Carl and Colby and Travis during those times... Yeah, it was something that I'll never forget within my career is looking back and saying, “Man, I was a part of something that really made an impact.” Not just to... Not just to our industry, but to Aera Energy, it led to us completely taking out the old system and putting Ignition across the entire company, millions of tags, 160 gateways, it was a big seven-year project, and that relationship with Inductive Automation and that relationship with really being able to move into an operational technology architect where I was overseeing the portfolio and the road map and all that stuff, has led me to be able to get to where I am today, which is Co-Owner and Director and Founder with Jeff.
Jeff: Did you just say that our relationship is the pinnacle of your career? Is that what... Kevin, is that what you heard?
Allen: I actually was referring to Kevin, Jeff, sorry.
Kevin: I'll take it, I'll take it.
Jeff: Kevin, CSIA, you're right. That's where you and I met. I'm trying to think which one. Did you do Puerto Rico?
Kevin: No, it wasn't Puerto Rico. It was... We had the big cafe that year, Inductive Automation did. I don't remember what city it was in though.
Jeff: I remember very distinctly, not the where, but the how. And in the previous industries that I was in, we always had these 20 groups... I don't know, is 20 group like a foreign concept? So basically, even though you might be like, let's say retail, you might have direct competition, like direct competition, these are the men and women you compete against from a business standpoint, but you get together four or five, six times a year and you collaborate... You share information. You share ideas. It's this concept that IP doesn't really exist, it's the execution of IP that matters, right? And I loved that about 20 groups. So you would take the 20 top performers in the country and they'd get together and they'd go over their books. [chuckle] And so that type of collaboration was super helpful, and so I came to CSIA, remember brand new, trying to learn, and started going to all these other booths and these other companies that had historians or were doing SCADA, doing control, had database technology, and just trying to learn from them, and I was basically told within 30 seconds of meeting any of these other folks to get away...
Jeff: Like, we don't want to talk to you, we don't wanna share ideas with you, and then I walked into the cafe and Kevin and you were like, “Yeah, come on over. Let's talk... What's your technology like? Here's our technology,” and it was... It kinda felt like home a little bit because this was... I'd learned this is how you thrive, this is how you grow by not being afraid of conversation, by not being afraid of what could be competition, but just make friends, make alliances and get better together.
Allen: And that is, I would say, the underwhelming... I guess not underwhelming, but the undercurrent of IntegrateLive!, that's what we want, we desire to build relationships, add value, and share anything that we have that's gonna help somebody else.
Kevin: That's a perfect segue into the story behind IntegrateLive!. So we've mentioned IntegrateLive! a few times here, but we haven't actually said what it is [chuckle] and how it works, and so is this something where you go out and you... You have a camp in the woods and you call it an IntegrateLive!? I don't think that's it. Right? So maybe the audience wants to know a little bit about IntegrateLive!, and the best way to do that might be talking a little bit about the story behind it... Right? How you guys got together, Allen, this is the pinnacle of your career, and that's quite a storied past that you have with all of that, and it's fun hearing that too. As a side note, before we do that, I'll just mention that certainly, a number of those conversations that you were having, where you said that it was an influential time for Aera and for oil and gas, and that we, it was also an influential time for the development of Ignition. So at that same time, we were working on building out our next level of connectivity, so when we started our relationship, we didn't have the Ignition Gateway Network, we didn't have IIoT technologies, we didn't have anything that did a tight connection between scale-out architectures.
Kevin: You could always connect over OPC or to a remote system, but didn't have the ability to share alarms and do centralized management and have remote backups and license management and all of that stuff. It all came about as part of the conversations that we were having with you and Aera, and part of the conversations we were having with some other folks in the oil and gas space and water/wastewater space, and some of these really big distributed systems, have a lot of geographical separation as part of them. And then we were working with a number of enterprises too that have manufacturing and automotive and some of these other industries where they just have lots and lots of different facilities that are split around the world, we're working with one company that has over 1,000 facilities around the world that is using Ignition all over the place. And so that was right at a moment in our evolution, we were switching from a company that was focused on individual plants, and that's all we really knew, and individual locations to a company that really scales well, both for the individual plants and for the enterprise overall, and so yeah.
Kevin: You hit at a really interesting moment. I mean we're continuing to evolve on all sorts of things on the Inductive Automation side, but before that, we didn't really have a fantastic enterprise solution. And now we do, and you were part of that transition. So thank you for your feedback and everything that you guys were doing for that period. Yeah. Go ahead.
Allen: I'll give you this credit too, because what made that really impactful to the industry was you listened. And so we brought a very high dollar cybersecurity consultant that Aera paid for. We brought them to Inductive Automation. We sit him down with Carl and Colby. This was before you had any security team or anything. And we walked through why you should never have a default password. We walked through all the Purdue model and we walked through... This was before GAN or Gateway Network. I always wanna call it GAN, it was called GAN at the beginning. And then I was told in a meeting, at Inductive, “We don't call it GAN anymore.” And it's everything. I still want to call GAN, but Gateway Network and everything that we had brought to you guys and talked to you about is now in the product, security zones, no default password. You model around the Purdue model, you have certificate based... I mean, all of it is there. So yeah, you listened. And used to be able to walk into the old clock tower building, literally get in the elevator when somebody would get in, go up to that... Third floor. Was it the third floor?
Kevin: Fourth floor.
Allen: Fourth floor. And I could walk directly to Travis's desk or Carl's desk or any of them. And now you guys have got everything locked down and special cards and doors, but anyway, that was the good old days.
Kevin: Yeah. They might have stopped you at the front of the old office if they noticed a strange man walking in.
Allen: They never did.
Kevin: Oh, you tried this on for size a couple of times. [chuckle]
Allen: I acted like I belong there and they just let me walk through.
28:16 Kevin: So you're the reason why we now have cards, doors.
28:24 Jeff: Yeah. Right. That's what we've been doing our entire careers, Allen. Act like we belong there and they'll just let you walk through.
Kevin: Go ahead, Jeff, go ahead and get us started with IntegrateLive!.
Jeff: If you don't mind tossing information up there.
Kevin: Sure. Yeah, yeah, happy to. One other thing I wanted to mention quickly. Obviously, all of us like to talk and have a good conversation here. So we're taking a little bit more time with all of this at the beginning than we thought we would, but the, you know, what you're talking about with the top 20 is interesting to me too, because there's the Ignition Oil and Gas Collective. The Cross-Industry Collective is another one that popped up that Allen, you'd been pretty involved in. The Oil and Gas Collective has a meeting next week that I'm flying out to Houston for. And then they're having another meeting that is around the corner right next to ICC. So anybody who's coming to the conference will talk more about that later. But if you come into the conference, you can join the Oil and Gas Collective meeting that happens during that time and learn a little bit more about what it's about, but it struck a chord with me, Jeff there, that these are the top folks who are using Ignition in oil and gas.
Kevin: Maybe minus a couple. And so almost everybody who's using Ignition in oil and gas has joined this Ignition Oil and Gas Cross-Industry Collective that is, or, sorry, not Cross-Industry Collective, but the Oil and Gas Collective, IOGC. And it's exactly what you just said. It's not necessarily about the intellectual property. It's about the engineering that you do. It's about the time that you spend to create solutions. And then it's... This group shares that information and figures a rising tide floats all ships, right? It's something that if you share, then it's going to help everybody. And of course there's certain things that folks don't share, and that's fine. But there's a real spirit of collaboration and communication and something that I've talked to a number of folks in the Oil and Gas Collective, and they say, this is really unique in the industry.
Kevin: This isn't something that happens with other software. This isn't something that happens across these companies that are technically competitors to each other. They say, we're gonna share information about, you know, Ignition. And I think that that's partially because of the community because of what you guys bring to the community. And the rest of our community brings that spirit of collaboration and connection and wanting to really help everybody be more successful in what they're doing. So, anyway, it made me think of that directly. So that was really interesting. And I think that's a great idea, like these top 20 groups that you were talking about.
Jeff: Yeah. It's expanding the... It's expanding your “us,” right? So, it's, no matter what, we're humans. We're always going to... We're always gonna struggle with us versus them, right? We, just by default, we group into us's, and we oppose them’s. Right? But keeping that “us” too small is dangerous. And so what we have to do is we have to just expand our us and target a higher level of them’s. Right. And that's what... That's what these groups do. It's not about us beating the oil company across the street. It's about us beating the oil companies from other countries. It's about, it's about us being better than many manufacturers from other soils that, you know, it's about us being able to onsource instead of outsource and that's the goal of it. And so great segue into IntegrateLive!. Well done, Kevin, by the way, there's the call to action. If you're not part of the Cross-Industry Collective, if you're not part of the Oil and Gas Collective, if you're not part of IntegrateLive!, join something today, right. Find something today that is bigger than your current us. Alright. So Allen, we've been talking about IntegrateLive!, tell 'em what it is.
Allen: IntegrateLive! is really a community of end users, integrators, and vendors. And we're bringing these integrators, vendors, and end users together united under these three common threads. And those common threads is openness. It's really working on, you know, the creating that bigger us, but being willing to work with a competitor as a vendor, it's working with other integrators that... I'll tell you a quick story about the integrator piece. We were in the... It was 2020, our most exciting Cross-Industry Collective, we had an ARC Forum and we had a roundtable event. We had all the roundtable, we had this really good discussion 'cause we were really focusing on trying to change it from the people who were talking to talking at the people to making discussion.
Allen: So we had these questionnaires, we were having this dialogue in this collective meeting, and we had an integrator say, "Hang on. You're literally asking me to give away information that is allowing me to put shoes and food on my table, like me sharing what you're asking to share has the potential of me losing money and losing business, and I don't think I'm comfortable with that." And I was going to start to respond, and yet other integrators within the community stepped up and said, "Let me show you what... Let me tell you what has happened since we have been a part of this, that we've actually, by giving more away than we've ever in our history of our company, we have gotten more business, not less." And it's a matter of really being open enough to allow yourself to be vulnerable, but also to be really about helping the community get better.
Allen: The second common thread is around transparency, right? And it ties in the openness and transparency of "Look, we don't have all the answers.” We don't have, like, “Hey, come to me and I'm gonna solve your problem." I'd probably cause some of the problems, but the point is, is that together collectively, we can help get to some solutions that will be effective for some companies. The solutions that we show in our workshops, they're not gonna fit for everybody. And we're trying to be very careful to say, "This is a solution." It's one that you can literally see it work in action. It may not be the best, it may not be the only. But it's one. And lastly, humility. We want to work with each other and within a community that is humble and willing to, as Jeff said, step up and say, "I don't know, but you know what? I know Hugh Roddy, let's go talk to Hugh. Let's go talk to Jason Hanlon. Let's go talk to Travis." And being able to tie those people together and really comes from that place of humility of being able to do that, and ultimately, all of those things need to lead to value. They need to lead to value for the individual, which will also lead to value for the companies they work for. And that's ultimately what we want. We want everyone's value to increase.
Jeff: And we're really trying to attract those that would consider themselves changemakers. Is those women, those men, those rising stars, those students that are saying, "We want to make a difference, we don't want to just sit in our role and accept the status quo, and just to get our paycheck. We wanna drive excellence, we wanna drive change. And we're looking for a better way to do things." And if you're open, if you're transparent and you've got a sense of humility that you don't think you know everything and you wanna be a learner first, come on aboard. And that's not just... By the way, we should mention, that's not just the end users or the integrators, the vendors that we're inviting to join have to also have those qualities. So things like open from a technology standpoint, you can't do platform lock. If data flows into your device or your platform, it has to flow out. You have to be transparent in your business practices, pricing should be made public, no one should have to go through five interviews with you, before you decide to show them the price of your product. And obviously, humility speaks volumes when it comes in the vendor world.
Jeff: Speaking of which from the vendor side, we're currently sponsored financially through their giving and their time by Software toolbox. Of course, by the company that you know me from, most of you, Canary, by Flow Software, our buddies at Opto 22, Kepware, and Phoenix Contact. So those six companies have stepped up, there's others coming on board from a financial giving standpoint. And then our steering committee, our steering team consists of Inductive Automation. Kevin, your team has been instrumental in helping us plan for the future, Cirrus Link, Dee Brown and Brown Engineering, our friends at Vertech, have all had active roles in helping guide us because... Listen, the reason Allen and I embrace humility is because we know first hand, that we're not equipped to do this alone. And this was why this team approach is so important to us, so thank you so much to our sponsors, and to our...
Allen: I think it's important to point out here... Can you go back to that last slide?
Jeff: Yeah, sure thing.
Allen: It's important to point out that if you know these companies, you know that they're competitors. And yet they're very active in recognizing that, “Hey, we wanna work together,” and so... Yeah, it's really been a joy to not just, not just be willing to bring sponsors on, but the excitement that the sponsors are wanting to be a part of this and they're seeking us out and they're talking with us, and so it's been a joy.
Jeff: Absolutely, and something that's important to note, Allen, as we talk, is that this isn't a pay-to-play situation, so we will continue to highlight technology that the community finds to be appropriate and believes in whether or not companies have sponsored IntegrateLive! Or not, because frankly, how messed up would it be if we didn't do it, that would... That would be part of the problem, not part of the solution, so.
Allen: Our sponsors are joining us to be a part of building a community.
Jeff: That's right, that's right. And so they've bought into the vision basically, and this vision is collective, this is... It's funny because I was looking at it the other day thinking like, this is so much bigger now than when I would have pictured it could have been just six months ago and where it's headed and Allen I know you've shared the same thoughts, we were at ARC together last week and sitting with David from Inductive Automation, David with the... I'll get his position incorrect, Kevin, so help me out, David, on the education.
Kevin: University Engagement Program.
Jeff: University Engagement Program, thank you, and he was asking questions about, “Okay, so tell me about IntegrateLive!, where is it headed? What's your plans?” And he started giving awesome ideas and feedback because our vision is really to build a real authentic community. So what does that mean? We can look on LinkedIn and we can see people connected, but let's be honest, LinkedIn feels like more of a marketing campaign than it feels like a conversation amongst friends or respected peers, there's a lot of trolling that goes on LinkedIn, and there's a lot of fake bots now messaging me on LinkedIn, there's all these things. It's moving the wrong direction, and so we need to land a place online where people can virtually interact, and it's probably not gonna be the Metaverse but we wanna have a place where people can share ideas and they can connect. And so the common theme is it's for folks that identify as changemakers inside of industrial automation, but the real fun, exciting part is we're gonna help those individuals connect on deeper levels through secondary and tertiary common passion.
Jeff: So for instance, Allen and I are both very passionate about coffee brewing, and I will bet that there's 50 to 100 men and women inside of industrial automation at a minimum that geek out on coffee, so imagine what we could all build together if we started working on these fun little collaborative projects towards trying to brew the perfect cup of Puro, why not start a group about that? And so that's what we wanna build. A place where gearheads and gamers, trivia nuts, musicians, creators, they can join together with the common thread of industrial automation, and then Allen, why don't you speak to the concept of actually coming together in person?
Allen: Yeah, ultimately, that's really what our vision was from the beginning of coming together in a couple of different aspects, right. One, we really want to partner with STEM programs, specifically university, and then bring in some of the high school STEM programs, but that's where the conversation with David was so impactful for us because that kind of is in our DNA that we want to... You've already gone, I met with the STEM lead at the University of Arkansas and saw the lab and started those conversations around that, so we want to have in-person one-day events where we're bringing together people to solve a real problem, and ultimately having a full four-day conference, and we don't even like calling it a conference 'cause we don't think it's gonna be a conference, it's going to be a... We're gonna solve a big problem or problems during a four-day event, we're gonna do the same model that we do in our one-hour event, but we're gonna try to tackle a bigger problem, and so bringing people together, bringing the solutions together with real problems.
Allen: Solving them being transparent about what works, what doesn't work, what the problems are, what the successes are, and ultimately at the end saying, “Hey, we solved this problem and this is what it cost to solve it,” everything we do, the people and all the things that we did, this is what we did, so interesting enough, our steering meeting, the one of the first meetings we had, we kind of shared our vision and this is what we want, this is what we wanna build, we wanna get to this conference, and Don Pearson said, “That's awesome.”
Jeff: Slow down.
Allen: Yeah, “You may wanna go build the community first,” and that led to Jeff and I coming up with our Virtual Workshops and our Rundowns, and so that's what... That's kind of led to that, but ultimately leading to a full in-person event.
Jeff: And where it can go, we're still dreaming, but I've had the joy of being a member of Rotary, and I love this idea that we might be able to achieve together with the right vision, the right guidance, and everybody's coming to the table with good ideas, we might be able to achieve an industrial automation society that meets together on the first Tuesday of every month and 18 different major metro markets around the world. How cool would that be? And it's not about a vendor, it's not about an integrator, it's just about gathering together to grow, and ultimately, if we do that, so we're gonna all level up together, so we're gonna be guided by experts, we're gonna grow into experts, and we're going to have a way to better ourselves, better our professional careers, our personal lives, and our companies that we touch, and so that's really the goal now where are we at now?
Jeff: Currently, once a month, we get together on back-to-back Wednesdays. And so the first session on a Wednesday, it's called a Virtual Workshop, and Allen hinted at it, but this is a hands-on live demo, where we have a guide who's a system integrator that takes a tech stack, so a couple of vendors, hardware, software vendors, and they're presented with a challenge, a problem that needs solved, and over the course of an hour to an hour and a half, there is a walk-through of the technology, a live build-out of that technology integrated together to solve the problem that was proposed. When we get done, there's a breakdown of the pricing of the hardware and software that was used so that you have a complete understanding of what it would cost to solve that exact same problem, you have a sense of what the lift would be to do it from the live demo, and then you can have a live panel Q&A on the back side of it, that's on the first Wednesday, and then immediately after that, the following Wednesday is the Rundown. Kevin, you've been on a Rundown before, how would you describe it?
Kevin: It's kind of like what we started off doing right here, it's conversational, we're talking about how did things go, what might have went wrong in the workshop? What are some of the things that maybe you think about? And the conversation just goes in the direction that it goes. I think it's nice, and I think I mentioned this to you as well, Jeff, at some point. But for me, I was part of the second meeting, which was the first Rundown, I think, and that was... It was really a breath of fresh air inside this industry, there's a lot that is very structured and a lot that is to the point, and we're gonna focus on the engineering, and there's not a lot that's focused on, let's take a step back and reflect and just do it in a casual way and just have a conversation with each other.
Jeff: My favorite part about all of these ways that we're currently getting together is on our very first session, I asked Allen like, "Hey, how do you wanna kick this thing off and open it... When we hit the go-live button?" He was like, "Can I tell a dad joke?" I was like, "Allen, I love dad jokes." And so we decided just to tell everybody, "Hey, we're gonna... Be prepared for dad jokes," and what we didn't realize at the time is that that was gonna be the stickiness, that was gonna be the thing that people started to really comment on the most and enjoy, and so it's peppered throughout all of our Virtual Workshops and Rundowns. One thing I've learned is that if you don't give developers a ton of lead time and specific instructions that you don't start a joke by saying, "I am now going to tell you a dad joke," that can be a point of awkwardness for them, but... That's okay, we're all growing together and having fun.
Allen: Yeah. This is the transparency part. I actually really enjoy that, that moment of awkwardness where you know it's being passed to that guy who's dreading to tell a dad joke and you are like watching 'cause you know it's coming. And then he's, "Okay, here I go." It seems like it's what I do, I guess, is what I'm saying.
Kevin: It's a part of leveling up together here is you're helping people level up their comedy game.
48:20V Jeff: Exactly, that's right.
Kevin: If you'd call dad jokes, comedy, that's a little debatable to you, right?
Jeff: Whatever. We hit this slide, I'm going through it, as I worked in the Q&A section, and we're time-sensitive, I'm just gonna start with a question, if it's okay to you, Kevin, then we can ask the audience, so I need like 30 seconds to get your questions going. Kevin, do you know what a drummer names his triplet girls?
Allen: I know.
Kevin: I do not...
Jeff: You don't know? Anna 1, Anna 2, Anna 3. [laughter]
Allen: Anna 3. I'll tell you a story that happened last night, I dropped a dollar bill in a toilet, and I realized there was no way I'm sticking my hand in the toilet for a dollar. So I got this brilliant idea. I took a $10 bill out of my pocket, I threw it into the toilet, because I would absolutely put my hand in the toilet for $11.
Jeff: Absolutely. Why not? That's the way to do it. I told you I was in a hotel, another sales call, I was supposed to visit yesterday, a bicycle factory here in Indiana, and I was supposed to meet with the guy who's in charge of tires wheels, and he stood me up, instead I ended up speaking to his spokesperson.
Allen: That was Kevin. Yeah, Kevin.
Jeff: You’re like that guy that won't laugh...
Kevin: I get it. I get it.
Kevin: They're funny and they also hurt at the same time.
Allen: He laughed at mine, I'm pretty sure.
Jeff: He didn't laugh at yours.
Allen: But I'm immature, I know this because my wife told me I'm immature, to which I said, "Get out of my Ford." [laughter]
Jeff: That's funny, 'cause my wife always says that I'm preoccupied with vengeance... We'll see about that. [laughter] Alright.
Kevin: We actually had a question come in and this is... It's a little bit on topic, it's not asking for more dad jokes, so... I think everybody's thankful. How do we get involved? I'm joking, kind of... So yeah, Sean asks, "So how do we get involved?" That is the question, and I think that's a great question. So Jeff, Allen, how do you folks get involved in IntegrateLive!?
Jeff: Alright, so that's the easiest thing right now, 'cause we are building the community currently, in the next 90 days, we will actually launch where you can become a member, you can join and be involved for the immediate, will you please go to LinkedIn? And will you follow IntegrateLive!? If you do that, then you'll see all of the future upcoming registrations for Virtual Workshops, and that's also where we stream the Rundown. So LinkedIn, IntegrateLive!. And if you have any problem finding it, just yell at me on LinkedIn. I appreciate.
Allen: Integratelive.com, and you can click the register button there, and you can register there also, and then you'll get the emails.
Jeff: Yeah, well, kind of, I failed a little bit on integratelive.com because...
Allen: Oh, no.
Jeff: The register's only if there's an upcoming webinar and there's not an upcoming webinar posted because next month, shameless plug, we're doing a double Rundown edition. So this Wednesday is the Rundown for the project we completed yesterday, which, it was awesome, you should tune into that, you can do that by following us on LinkedIn. But in July, we're doing a double education edition, we're gonna be highlighting Deloitte Smart Factory @ Wichita State, New Kensington Digital Factory, Penn State Project, University of Sheffield, AMRC Factory Future 2050. And the joint venture with University of Arkansas at Carnegie Mellon, MIT, University of Osaka, Japan around Insert, Insert, NCREPT, N-C-R-E-P-T, a advanced electronics program. So we're gonna hear all about these kind of rising stars, future factories and programs from the men and women that are behind that, and so it should be really fun content to be a part of. Fun content that everybody's gonna wanna be a part of, coming down the pike on our calendar, September IntegrateLive! has just booked a party house on Sutter Street in Folsom. Why would we have done that in September Kevin? What's going on?
Kevin: I have no idea. There's no interesting events happening in September, except for the ICC. So this is our Ignition Community Conference. Yeah, this is a huge event. It's our biggest event of the year, and it is happening in-person, and we're really excited about it, we just launched the website a couple of days ago, and in fact, I'll go ahead and share my screen. I've got a little simple slide on this, this is Ignition Community Conference X or 10, this is our 10th one that we're doing, so we've been doing these things for a decade and it's been a long time getting here. We've got some fun announcements that we're gonna have during the conference, we have a lot of different sessions that people can attend, and obviously, you could go and visit the IntegrateLive! Airbnb that's on Sutter Street and say hi to those folks. We also have a number of other panels, got a keynote, got the developer panel, and we have the Build-a-Thon that's coming back this year, and if you've been following on social media or anywhere else, you'll know that the 19 teams that are competing, just went through the first round and we have narrowed it down to 10 teams, they're gonna continue the second round, and then by the end of the third round, it'll be narrowed down to two teams who are going to compete live during ICC, so it is a big competition.
Kevin: This time around, we really wanted to be inclusive, we wanted to let any Premier Integrator who wanted to be part of this apply for it, and then we had a lot of applications and we decided to select a good portion of them as folks could be... Be part of this. So a lot of tight competition, and we put together some pretty cool... A cool application. So we'll be posting more on that, but in any case, register with the conference now, if you wanna come, we'd love to see you in person, we have a virtual piece of it as well, which happens a couple of weeks following the conference, and you could register for that as well. That piece is free, the virtual piece is free, the in-person, you buy tickets for, so book your travel, book your tickets, do that early so that you can make sure to get a seat. We're expecting a lot of folks are gonna wanna come because it's the first thing that we're doing in three years and... Physically in person, and we're pretty excited about it. So that's a little plug for ICC there, go ahead.
Jeff: To me the in-person is free because the price of the ticket is so reasonable and the amount of food, swag, and fun that I have every year. It's like I'd pay that all day long. Our house on Sutter Street, Kevin is two and a half blocks from the Fat Rabbit and, confession, I've never had a party where the cops showed up, and I'm just thinking, this might be that opportunity. It's in Allen's name, the house in Allen's name. We can just do whatever we want.
Kevin: Well, we don't control anything after it leaves the grounds of ICC, so I cannot endorse what you might choose to do, that's up to you.
Jeff: It'll be fun.
Allen: I'm not sure I endorse it, but I'll be there for the... I'll be there for the arrest and bailout.
Jeff: Imagine the material we'll have, Allen. More dad jokes looming.
Allen: So Jeff and I will both be at ICC, look forward to seeing you, and if you don't know us or haven't had a chance to interact with us, find us.
Jeff: Yep, I'll be there wearing my Canary hat by day and IntegrateLive! hat on the afternoons and evenings. So look forward to seeing everybody there.
Allen: Sounds good. Yeah.
Kevin: Yeah, I'm definitely looking forward to it. And for everybody here, we're wrapping up right now. We're right at the end of the hour. But thank you so much for joining us. Thank you for being here, Jeff, Allen, thank you for talking to us for the last hour here, I always enjoy talking to you guys.
Jeff: Hey Kevin, thank you buddy. It's great seeing you again, look forward to seeing you on...
Kevin: Highlight of the last hour.
Jeff: That's right, highlight of the last hour right? Thanks Kevin.
Kevin: Yeah, yeah, appreciate it. And to everybody in the audience, this wraps up this Ignition Community Live. We'll have another one in about a month, we generally have a cadence for these things on a regular basis, we also have a podcast that you can subscribe to and listen to, and we also have our monthly webinars that have a lot of content and are much more focused on new technologies and engineering and things that you can do with Ignition and trends, and we have a lot of focus on Digital Transformation, so get out there and check out our content or connect with us and give us a call, and we have all these logos that you can see right there that we do a lot that's online, so happy to have you here and appreciate you being here. Thanks, everybody. Talk to you soon.
Allen: Thank you.