Ignition Community Live: ICC 2021 Preview

55 min video  /  48 minute read


Don Pearson

Chief Strategy Officer

Inductive Automation

Doug Dudley

Director of Marketing

Inductive Automation

Kent Melville

Director of Sales Engineering

Inductive Automation

Travis Cox

Co-Director of Sales Engineering

Inductive Automation

Scott Whitlock


Flexware Innovation

Reese Tyson

Team Lead

Flexware Innovation

Chris McLaughlin

SCADA & MES Specialist


Ryan Crownover

Integration Manager


Esteban Núñez

Business Development 4.0

NV Tecnologías

Kevin Hannigan


Automated Control Concepts

Guru Thakkar

Sr. Project Manager/Team Lead

Automated Control Concepts 

Keith King

Security Architect

This year’s Ignition Community Conference (ICC) is almost here! Whether you can’t wait for ICC or you’re just curious to know what it’s all about, then you don’t want to miss this broadcast where we’ll take you behind the scenes like never before. Get a look at the new platforms, Attendify and Wonder, that are raising the bar for virtual conference-going. Gear up for this year’s Build-a-Thon, which features integrators competing for the first time. Hear from some of the speakers behind this year’s fascinating sessions. Find out what to expect from the Discover Gallery as well as the Keynote, Exchange Challenge, Virtual Meetups, and more. Join us to get ready and get the most out of ICC 2021.


Don: Hello everyone and welcome to Ignition Community Live. Thanks to all of you for joining us today. This is Episode 29: ICC 2021 Preview. My name is Don Pearson. I'm Chief Strategy Officer here at Inductive Automation. And I'm co-hosting today's episode with my colleagues Doug Dudley and Kent Melville. Doug is our Director of Marketing, and Kent is our Sales Engineering Manager. And they both know a thing or two about ICC now and in the past. We have a plethora of guests today, many more than usual. They are Travis Cox from Inductive Automation, Scott Whitlock and Reese Tyson from Flexware Innovation. Chris McLaughlin and Ryan Crownover from Vertech. Esteban Nuñez from NV Tecnologías. Kevin Hannigan and Guru Thakkar from Automated Control Concepts. And security architect Keith King. So rather than having all of them introduce themselves now, we'll have them introduce themselves as we bring them on to speak about ICC. These guests are just some of the many industry leaders who are playing an important role at ICC this year, and we're grateful that they are willing to share with us a little bit of a preview on our presentation today. So we've got a lot to get to. So Doug, can you start us off with just kind of an overview of this year's ICC.

Doug: Yeah, sure. Happy to do that. So the conference is coming up here pretty soon, September 21st and 22nd, that's just six weeks away. So if anyone on the call hasn't registered yet, make sure you do that. We're really excited for it coming, and that's not too far away. So like last year, this year is gonna be an all-virtual event that is free for everybody. We've also made some pretty big improvements in this year's conference versus last year. So one of the reasons we wanna do this webinar was just to show some of those things that we're doing, give you a little bit of behind-the-scenes look and a little preview on some of the main events and exciting things that are going on at the conference, as well as some of those improvements we made this year in the hopes that this really is the best virtual event that we've ever done.

Doug: So to start off, let's actually start with our theme this year, which is Evolve. Evolve feels like a very apt theme for 2021, because we've really seen a lot of change, a significant change in the world in the last year. And change is often a catalyst for growth. Companies that meet the challenges that changes present with fresh ideas, courage and innovation can oftentimes come out stronger on the other side of that. And we've seen that in our own company, as well as our community in the last year as we've evolved to be smarter, faster, and stronger together. And that's really what this theme is in celebration of. In this year's conference, we'll be sharing content with our attendees that will really help them bring positive change to the processes, companies, and communities. And that's really what we wanted to have the theme of the conference be this year.

Don: Thanks a lot, Doug. That is oh-so true. And one area I think you're gonna really see that show up is in the Discover Gallery, 'cause one of the ways that we really, really get a look at that evolution that you're talking about is at the Discover Gallery. It's a video showcase of the most exceptional real-world Ignition applications built by members of the global Ignition community. And Travis, you're one of the judges for the Discover Gallery. So can you tell us a little bit more about it and what to expect this year? 

Travis: Absolutely. Thanks, Don. I love Discover Gallery every single year. It's really my favorite part of ICC. We get to see all the amazing projects that the community has built with Ignition. These projects are super innovative, and they utilize Ignition in ways that we've never imagined. And as the developers of the platform, it's really cool to see those kind of use cases come to life. And it continues, of course, every year they get bigger and better. And with more sophisticated projects, bigger projects, and all of that. Back in January of this year, we started collecting all the submissions. The community really responded. And after an extensive judging process, to which I was one of the judges, we narrowed down to exceptional projects that will be featured in the gallery this year. So I'm really excited to unveil those companies whose projects have been selected here. This year we had projects from 12 different industries in eight different countries. They're showcasing amazing features of Ignition from Perspective to IIoT and MQTT, Edge and our Onboard program, cloud applications, leveraging AWS and Azure, large architectures and systems. Systems that have tons of tags and clients out there.

Travis: So a couple of highlights. Perspective is definitely on display this year. There's a new technology for the Ignition platform, and whenever we put out that new technology, we see how the community responds and what they do with it. Around half of the projects this year include Perspective. Projects like Aruba Data Center showcases converting Vision projects over to Perspective, and fully taking advantage of the latest and greatest technology there and mobile technologies. The project for BHP showcases a staggering 900,000 tags and high performance HMI screens built in Perspective with innovations to APIs like ServiceNow integration with Splunk. XOCEAN has designed and developed a fleet of unmanned service vessels (USVs) to provide data collection to surveyors, companies, and agencies globally.

Travis: They leverage Ignition Edge and MQTT to perform over-the-horizon operations with USVs in any marine location and remote islets in any location with internet access. And those are the couple of cool projects, as you can see here. I highly encourage everyone to check out all the projects, see what these customers and these innovators are building out there, because they're all truly amazing. And I wish we can showcase more that were submitted, because there were just... There's so much out there that hopefully will inspire you and to utilize Ignition in ways that you never thought possible as well. So again, I'm really looking forward to it. Back to you, Don.

Don: Thanks, Travis. Listen, Doug, I want to talk a little bit about the Discover Gallery awards. You were really involved in that for your marketing team, so give us a little bit of... Just a little preview of what you got on the screen here.

Doug: Yeah, sure. This is a preview of the awards, it looked really cool. And we wanted to make awards that really kind of reflect some of that amazing work that our community has done, and the Firebrand Awards are given to the companies that put together the most outstanding Ignition projects from our Discover Gallery every year, and these awards represent not just the excellence in Ignition application design and implementation. But also that kind of collaborative community spirit and commitment to outstanding customer service that has become a hallmark of the Ignition community at its best. We wanted the design of the award to communicate that positive energy of our community, as well as their innovative thinking, and of course, reflect the theme artwork that we have for this year. Of course, the most impressive thing about the Firebrand Award isn't the way it looks, it's the work of the company that wins that award for the projects they're doing, and all those videos of the Firebrand Award-winning projects as well as the rest of the projects from our Discover Gallery finalists will all be available to view on our conference website when the conference starts in September, so I'm really excited. I wanna reiterate what Travis said to see those projects and the amazing work that our community is doing.

Don: Thanks, Doug. Yeah, absolutely, and actually, I just wanna take a minute here to round out this segment, because we have Scott Whitlock from Flexware and Chris McLaughlin from Vertech. Both of these companies won a Firebrand Award last year, and they're both being featured in the Gallery again this year. So Scott and Chris, I just want you to tell us a little bit about your companies first off, and then I'd like each of you to talk maybe a little bit about winning the Firebrand last year, and a little bit about your Discover Gallery projects for this year. So why don't we start with you, Scott and then we'll go over to you, Chris.

Scott: Hey, thanks, Don. We've really enjoyed this relationship with Inductive Automation and the community, it's been great for our business, it's been a lot of fun. A little bit about Flexware:  we're a 25-year-old consulting and engineering company, founded in the MES space in 1996. We concentrate on production-oriented industries from life sciences, utilities, steel and metals, food and beverage, and even pork production. We have two offices in Indiana and one in North Carolina, and our team has recently grown to over 100 Flex-Dogs, as we call ourselves. Our professionals deliver solutions from the shop floor to the top floor with teams that span from automation engineering all the way up to ERP implementation and business intelligence services.

Scott: Ignition has been a huge part of our recent growth with over 20 certified professionals and a dedicated Ignition team that's currently at 12 people. Clearly our Firebrand Award last year, being in the Discover Gallery last year and this year has really aided that growth. As for our Discover project this year, we're excited that Avery Dennison collaborated with us on a solution accelerator we call LIFT. This is a logistics and supply chain solution that manages Avery's autonomous vehicles, their human-driven vehicles, production lines, a shipping area and an expanded warehouse area. This platform completely... it's built with Ignition, includes custom modules built to communicate with ERP, WMS and the mission control for these autonomous vehicles or AGVs. And it's... The cool thing is it's completely configurable by the end customer, so if they add vehicles or sites or lines to pick up from or new missions, it's completely configurable by them, so we're excited to share this project with the community because as we've all seen supply chains pretty critical right now, we found...

Scott: We have a number of customers that they're finding value in solving this AGV challenge, this middleware challenge with a platform that's most of the way built with the Solution Accelerator as we call it, and not starting from scratch every time, so we're excited to feature this in the Discover Gallery.

Don: Thank you, Scott. Most perfectly that's exactly what I wanted you to share with folks. Let's have you do the same thing Chris? 

Chris: Thanks Don. Yeah Chris from Vertech we are a Premier Certified Integrator with both Ignition and Sepasoft, and we provide world class industrial automation solutions, and has been our mission to find the best and the brightest talent, and we have poured our heart and soul into Ignition and pushing the envelope wherever we can, and just being a part of this community. And so last year we had the honor of getting a couple of Firebrand Awards for AriZona Iced Tea and the Waste Management projects. And again, we just love the Discover Gallery and what you guys have set up because one, it is a huge deal of what we're gonna submit and we pay a lot of attention to that within our company, and for those engineers that were part of the projects it’s also a big honor.

Chris: And then afterwards, we look at every single project and video that was in the Discover Gallery and learn from them. See what the community is doing, see what is increasing, what the new trends are, and see how that can make us better, and so we really enjoy being a part of this. This year we have a fire... Sorry, a Discover Gallery project that is going in for Warren County Water District, who is in Kentucky, and they are spanning three counties and over 100 sites, so those are pump stations, tanks, turnouts, and all of that is rolling up into a Perspective application where they can monitor and control their entire district. And so it's a cool application, look forward to showing that off to everybody, and once again, just very honored to be a part of this community.

Don: Chris thanks, thanks so much. That's perfect. Another kind of a big part of ICC is the sessions. They're presented by Inductive Automation and by members of the Ignition community. So every year we have just a wide variety of sessions from beginner to intermediate and advanced levels. Doug, you're very intimately involved in the development of the sessions and working with the community and the IA speakers. So can you tell us a little bit of what we're planning for this year.

Doug: We plan to deliver some really strong sessions this year, we have a good collection of both live and pre-recorded sessions for our conference attendees to watch, so we've got expert speakers from a variety of industries and countries, covering topics about technology trends, development tips and strategies for enterprise. We've also got sessions for both new and advanced users, so there's really something for everybody to watch and to learn from. So the sessions will be released throughout the two-day span of the conference, that way there's always something cool and new to watch and take part on throughout the full two days. So you can kind of see a snapshot of those sessions here, we're gonna be going into detail on a few of these in the upcoming slides, but you can also visit our website and you can see the website address there at the bottom right of the slide, it's icc.inductiveautomation.com. That's got the full schedule along with descriptions and speakers and things like that, so you can really dive down in and get a really good preview of what we're planning to present. And I'm really excited about the sessions we're gonna be presenting at this year's conference.

Doug: So I'll go into this next slide here for the keynote, it's one of our most popular sessions every single year. It's a great opportunity to kind of talk to the community about how we've been progressing as a company and a community since our last conference, and this year is no exception to that. In this year's keynote, we'll really be highlighting growth of our Ignition community by showcasing their excellent project work and how IA is working every day to support our community's success. So to do this, we'll be highlighting the community's amazing work by showcasing those Firebrand Award-winning projects that we were talking about earlier, and really giving the audience a preview of that really amazing work and how that project work has changed over the years.

Doug: We'll also be giving our audience a look at what goes on in IA, and how we are working every day to support our community with the best software and services possible along with what's changed and what's going on and how we're doing as a company in the last year. So this year's keynote will feature interviews with our CEO Steve Hechtman, our COO Wendi Hechtman, as well as our VP of Technology Colby Clegg, our VP of Marketing and Sales Don Pearson and then many more people. So, it's gonna be a great highlight of what's been going on the last year, and we're really excited to show it. So certainly one you won't wanna miss and it will be available as that first session, the first day of the conference, so tune in right at the beginning to jump into that keynote. It's a great way to get the conference started.

Don: That sounds great, Doug. So now take a minute on the Dev Panel though, 'cause we wanna know, what can we expect from Carl and Colby this time around? 

Doug: Yeah, absolutely, the Dev Panel is that other session that is also really, really, super popular, that and the keynote are always our two most popular sessions every single year, and there was no exception last year as well. So last year was the first time we streamed the Dev Panel live and answered live community questions online, and people really loved it, so we're gonna be following that same approach for this year. So on the panel, we're gonna have our VP of Technology Colby Clegg, as well as our Director of Software Engineering Carl Gould, and then Paul Scott, who served as our moderator last year, did a great job, is gonna be reprising that role as a moderator this year. So as far as what they'll be talking about, Carl and Colby keep their plans for what they'll be discussing in the panel pretty under wraps, I can't say too much about that, but I can say that there's some exciting stuff they're planning to talk to the community about as far as the future of Ignition and where things are going, so it's definitely one you do not want to miss. So that'll be streaming live on our conference platform at the beginning of the second day of the conference, so it's a great way to get that second day started off, definitely tune in to that when it's time, we're really excited about that.

Don: You know, there's something else that's really exciting this year, and we have a brand new international session track, and we've got 26 sessions and events presented by Inductive Automation distributors from around the globe. You can choose, as you see on the slide, there are sessions in Spanish, French, Italian, Norwegian, German, Portuguese and English. We're reaching a lot of Ignition users and people interested in Ignition around the world. The distributor sessions will be presented in their respective languages and time zones, so please note that you'll need to register for the individual live events hosted by our distributors that you'd like to attend. Some of these events take place on September 23rd, which is the day after the conference. What's really exciting about this expansion of our conference schedule is about the amazing growth of our distributor program, so please take advantage of those sessions that you would like to.

Don: To give you a little sample of our sessions, we've brought on a few of our session presenters. We have Kevin Hannigan and Guru Thakkar from Automated Control Concepts, who are presenting a session called “Keeping the Cure Secure: COVID-19 Vaccine Batch Monitoring.” We've got Keith King here who's presenting “OMG APIs: How and Why You Should Integrate with Ignition Using APIs,” and his co-presenter, Michael Myers. And we have Esteban Nunez from NV Tecnologias, who is our distributor in Central America. And NV Tec is gonna be presenting several sessions in Spanish this year. So let's start maybe with Kevin, Guru, we'll go to Keith and then Esteban, and have you tell us a little bit about yourselves and your companies. And then tell us about your session and what it's all about, and what did you want to share, the subject. So I think I'll just bounce... I'll ask you a couple of questions first, Kevin, and then we'll go over to Keith and Esteban. So Kevin, tell us a little about yourselves and your company.

Kevin: Thank you Don. We're very excited to be here today. I'm Kevin Hannigan, I'm the president of Automated Control Concepts. ACC is a 38-year-old systems integration company. It's kind of scary to say that, I don't feel that old. I haven't been here all those years though. Yeah, our business focus is in three areas of our manufacturing customer's businesses. OT Infrastructure, which includes cybersecurity and managed services. Automation and Process Control Systems, which is really the classic systems integration items that we really were founded on all those years ago. And MES Applications. Our industries really were focused in life sciences, probably more than 50% of our business is there. Food and bev, water utility and consumer products.

Kevin: So we're a company that's been around almost four decades. And to really continue to be viable and profitable and grow, we're always working to change and adapt to all of the technology advancements that we see in manufacturing, and Ignition really has been a major part of our growth, our strategy, and the transformation that we've been trying to achieve in our company over the last five years.

Don: Give us a little bit of background on this session. This session couldn't be more timely.

Kevin: Guru, can you take that one? 

Guru: Thank you, Kevin and Don. Everybody, hello. This is Guru Thakkar. I'm one of the team leads at ACC. I'm a Senior Project Manager leading projects and helping customers meet their automation needs. Our session at ICC is going to be about data monitoring we provided for J&J's COVID vaccine manufacturing process. When the project started, their monitoring was done sort of offline by exporting CSV files from their existing site historian, and we were asked to provide a remote monitoring solution for people that were not onsite by injecting data into an Azure cloud system, and ACC came up with a solution to accomplish this in a secure way using Ignition platform along with MQTT and Azure Injector modules from Cirrus Link. This solution allowed J&J to monitor the process in near real time and run analytics on the data including predictive modeling, and this allowed them to adjust the process on almost real-time and avoid issues that may otherwise possibly result in lost batches. And we're glad that we were part of this project, COVID vaccine-related solution and excited to present the solution at ICC and thankful to Inductive Automation and the team there to provide this opportunity.

Don: Maybe you or Kevin could give us just a little snapshot of what would you like the takeaway for the attendees to be from your session at ICC this year? What do you want them to go away with? 

Kevin: Yeah. Thanks, Don. So I'll take that one. This is really... Some of this is to reinforce a lot of the value proposition that I think Inductive Automation has with Ignition. Project Warp Speed really had no tolerance for failure or delays, and Ignition really gave us a solution that we could rapidly build and scale to really satisfy the growing need there for our customer. They also had a variety of control platforms, PLC, SCADA systems, historians databases, and integrating these together into this common data pipeline, as we called it, was very simple and very quickly achieved. Obviously, the MQTT modules gave us a standard methodology to configure things rather than having to do a lot of custom programming. And really, to reinforce something Guru was saying, prior to completing the project, I think four or five batches had been executed and each of them had an issue. After the system was in place, every batch was able to be saved coming out of their bioreactors, so that was really a feather in everyone's cap here. And then lastly, just from the perspective of the life sciences industry, I really wanted us to demonstrate that Ignition can really be successfully deployed in the life sciences validatable environment and provide a high degree of data integrity, data segregation, and compliance with a full audit trail, and really satisfy GMP requirements and 21 CFR 11 requirements.

Don: That's great, Kevin. Thank you. Thanks for that little update. Now on a little bit of a side note though, since a lot of people here are sort of checking out and get a little sense of ICC this year, besides your own session, what's something else just you might just share with folks that you really look forward to about ICC? 

Kevin: Yeah, absolutely. So I alluded to it at the beginning, we really use ICC as a source of inspiration for us and we've integrated it into our strategic planning process every year. So we love being part of the community. We love coming out. And in particular this year, just seeing how people are using the cloud, how are they putting Ignition up there, how they are integrating with it, enabling digital transformations of their customers. And a hot topic for us really going forward is machine learning and analytics and how that's being applied and how we can possibly look for opportunities for ourselves as we continue to scale out our offerings to our customers.

Don: Thanks so much. And thanks to you and Guru both for just sharing with us today. So let’s move on to Keith. So Keith, maybe you can tell us a little about yourself and your company and then tell us about the session, which you'll be presenting.

Keith: Yeah, sounds good. So thank you. So yeah, a little bit about myself. My name is Keith King and I'm a security architect in the manufacturing industry and my co-presenter, Mike Myers, is a process engineer in the oil and gas industry. And so yeah, personally, I'm relatively new to Ignition. I've been using it at home for hobbies for a little bit over a year now. One of my favorite projects that I've worked on is actually for my chicken coop. I use Ignition so that we can open and close the door, we can monitor and log temperatures inside and outside of the coop, and then we can also control lights, and I do all of that by using a custom-developed API that's running on a Raspberry Pi.

Keith: So with that, yeah, just a little preview of our presentation, “OMG APIs.” So like I mentioned, I'll be co-presenting with Mike Myers and together we're going to give you an overview of APIs. Why would you want to use them? We're gonna cover some foundational topics with APIs as well. So really, our objective is to show some of the possibilities that APIs bring to the table, and hopefully that'll inspire others to look into what else they could do with Ignition by integrating with all these APIs that are out there in the world. And after a brief intro on that, we're gonna jump right into our demos. And the first demo that we're gonna do is to show how you can take GPS coordinates from a device to get additional information about that specific location. Another one is we're gonna show how you can integrate with weather APIs to get up-to-date weather information into your Ignition applications. And then we'll shift gears a little bit and show how you can integrate with a firewall API and that way you can get information from a firewall. And then the last one, the last demo that we're gonna show is something fun, but we're keeping that a surprise. So make sure you attend our presentation.

Don: That's great. So you kinda answered this, but is there anything else you wanna say about what you would like the viewers and the attendees to take away from your session? What would be the biggest takeaway you'd like them to get from it? 

Keith: Yeah, no, that's a good question. So I guess the one thing I would really like people to take away from it is look at APIs and get a deeper understanding of them. You hear APIs thrown around a lot, especially when you're talking to new vendors and they're trying to sell you on their product. They throw the word API in there. And what I find is it's kind of a mixed result of people who understand what they are and what they can do. And so some people may have never used them before and just they did not really grasp the concept of what an API can do for you. So I guess we're just hoping to demystify that a little bit and really show people that, "Hey, these things are possible, and you can do these things." It's not some really complicated thing. It's totally within reach.

Don: That is great. So the last question for you, like I did with Kevin, is separate. You as an attendee, besides your own sessions, what's something that you're really looking forward to at ICC this year? 

Keith: Yeah. Personally, I'm looking forward to all the presentations, networking with everybody. Last year was a great experience and I'm excited to learn even more during this year's conference. And actually, it's funny, the one presentation that really stood out to me was also the machine learning one. That was a really funny one. When Kevin said that, I was like, "Oh, you stole mine." That's what I was looking forward to as well.

Don: That's great. Well listen, thanks a lot. Really, thanks for your participation. Let's do Esteban. Turn it over to you, Esteban. Little bit about yourself, your company, and then what your session is going to be about.

Esteban: Yeah. Thanks, Don. Hello, everyone. My name is Esteban Nuñez. I am the Sales and Marketing Manager for NV Tec, and we are the Ignition distributor for Central America. Our mission is to bring Industry 4.0 technologies to the region. So yeah, indeed, we have several sessions ready that are in Spanish, and they are about historian tools protecting your Ignition application in regards to cybersecurity, MES data management. I think a couple of topics that our integrators are looking forward is getting the best from Perspective and understanding DataOps using MQTT. Those are relatively new topics or technologies into the community and we wanted to bring some Spanish information to the community. They were really asking for it. So we're looking forward to delivering that.

Don: That is great. Thanks, Esteban. I think you probably answered the question about takeaways, but if you wanna answer any more about what you want the attendees to take away, that would be great. And then wrap it up by just saying what, besides your own sessions there, what's something that you really look forward to about ICC, Esteban? 

Esteban: Of course. Yeah, I think the takeaway for people is to see that Ignition is becoming an industrial platform for... A universal platform for industrial applications. So keep your mind and eyes open to see what Ignition can do outside your typical HMI and SCADA application. I think Ignition has become really this universal platform for everything you can think of. And Keith has a great application here, great examples here, and Kevin and Guru as well. So I think that, keep your mind open. That's a big takeaway. And besides our own stations, this is my fifth year in the ICC, and I always get excited. I think everybody should feel the same. The Discover Gallery and the ICC overall attendance are definitely a source of his inspiration. I really wanna see what the community is building this year with Ignition, the trends and everything. Everybody, be sure to check the international sessions. I think there will be a lot of different flavors there. And, of course, I'm really, really looking forward to the Build-a-Thon.

Don: Fantastic. Yes, and thank you to you and your team, really. You've done some great work in Central America and we really appreciate all the sharing you're doing with your integrators and with the people down there. So thanks, Esteban. Alright. Let's move on to the... As Esteban mentioned, you're looking forward to the Build-a-Thon. So with that, let's talk about one of our most popular events at ICC, the Build-a-Thon. Kent, you happen to have been involved in all of the Build-a-Thons. You've contributed your musical talents to the Build-a-Thons. I think you're perfectly suited. And your humor, of course. You're perfectly suited to do a short recap of previous Build-a-Thons and talk about this year's Build-a-Thon and how it's gonna be different. So over to you, Kent.

Kent: Yeah, thanks Don. It kinda started back in 2018. As a company, we were about to release the Perspective Module, so a new web/mobile-responsive solution to HMIs and dashboards and all that. And we thought, this is really innovative. It may be a tough sell. We need to do something exciting to get people interested in this module, to get them to believe that it can do everything that they need it to do. And so we thought, what if we took Travis and Kevin, the two Co-Directors of Sales Engineering, we put them head-to-head and we had them see who could build the coolest project in one hour using this new Perspective Module. And we thought, "That's gonna be really exciting." But we also thought, "Oh, just watching people develop for one hour, maybe that is not as exciting as we think it is."

Kent: And so, yeah, we added musical numbers, we added all kinds of entertainment into this and we ended up calling it the Build-a-Thon. And we kind of thought it was gonna be a one-and-done thing, just we do a Build-a-Thon for one ICC, show off the Perspective Module and we'll figure out something different for the next year, but it turned out to be a wild success, and it was heavily requested to come back again the next year. And that actually worked out well for us because the next year, 2019, we had another big announcement that we wanted to do, which was the Ignition Exchange, a free open repository of pre-built resources for the Ignition platform that people can just go download and use in their projects. And that are not just delivered from... Are not just added by Inductive Automation, but it's community-driven. The integrators, the end users can upload their own resources and share them with the whole Ignition community.

Kent: And so Round 2, Travis and Kevin had a rematch. And while Travis won the first year, Kevin won the second year. It was a battle for the ages, and we announced that Ignition Exchange was a lot of fun. Coming into 2020, COVID-19 hit. We ended up not doing the Build-a-Thon last year, and we thought maybe we'll pick that up again some day, but it's tough to deliver that content online. People wanna watch it live. And some of the biggest feedback we got last year from the whole ICC experience was people said, "Where is the Build-a-Thon? We want the Build-A-Thon back." So even though this year we're still just online, we wanted to make sure that we could deliver some Build-a-Thon content that we could livestream that. And we had to go bigger, bigger than ever, and so rather than having Travis and Kevin just go head to head again, we actually decided to reach out to the community.

Kent: And so this year, two of our top integrators, Vertech and Flexware Innovation are facing off for the Build-a-Thon belt. And so it's exciting 'cause Travis and Kevin couldn't truly stay away, they are gonna be acting as coaches this year, providing color commentary and of course, back by popular demand, I'll be returning as MC. There may or may not be some additional musical entertainment, so definitely stay tuned and come to watch that. It'll be a little different this time around, it'll be broken up into two parts. The first part is that we're giving the integrators a month of development time right before ICC to develop and test some Ignition resources, which they will bring to the Build-a-Thon, and these are just not complete projects, they're just individual Ignition resources. For the second part, they'll get to use those pre-built items and any Exchange resources that are publicly available to pull together that project, that application live during the Build-a-Thon. And rather than having them both build the same thing, Vertech is going to be building a next-gen dashboard, while Flexware Innovations will be building a next-gen HMI. All of this will be live streamed from Folsom, California, and through the building platform, we're gonna have real-time voting, so the audience will once again get to choose the winner.

Kent: And so with that, let's talk a little bit about these competitors and how they're getting ready for this epic match-up. And so from Vertech, we have Chris McLaughlin, who you heard from a little bit earlier. He will be acting as the coach and then their champion for Vertech will be Ryan Crownover. From Flexware, we have Scott Whitlock, who you heard from earlier, who will also be coaching and then his champion Reese Tyson will be competing. And so we have some questions for you. Starting with Vertech, I wanted to ask, can you talk a little bit about what it means to be in the Build-A-Thon this year, and the idea of having integrators compete rather than just Travis and Kevin? And so yeah, Team Vertech, starting with you.

Ryan: Yeah, Kent, thanks for asking. At Vertech, we put a premium on providing world-class solutions, and Ignition is a huge component of what makes that happen. And so for that to be recognized and seen in the community is just honoring and humbling. It's big shoes to fill to go up on stage under Travis's name and banner of Team Travis. We also know that there's a huge community of integrators who use Ignition in the exact same way we do to just deliver on world-class solutions. And so to participate in the competition with Flexware, representing the entire community really fits into the story of Ignition continuing to thrive as a community-driven platform. And so we think it's just gonna be a whole lot of fun and a great addition to the conference.

Kent: Yeah, thank you, Ryan. And going to Team Flexware, same questions:What does it mean to you guys to be part of the Build-A-Thon, and your thoughts on integrators competing for the first time? 

Reese: Yeah, well, first of all, it's just what Ryan said, it's to be following the performances of the previous competitors of Travis and Kevin, it's a big task and really a bit humbling. It means a lot to be named Integrator of the Year last year, and now being able to participate in this competition it's kinda just cherry-on-the-top, so it's been a fun ride really the last couple of years, and very excited to be continuing that success and competing in this competition. Then I would add that I think sharing the competition with the community is a great way to get other viewpoints and creative applications of Ignition, and that's not to detract from what you guys at IA have put out by any means, I love the innovation and the variety of the new things that were put on display the previous Build-A-Thons. But I feel like involving integrators in the community allows Ignition to be showcased in a great different light, and really excited to see what the competition fosters in the community.


Kent: Absolutely, and it's fun listening to how civil you guys are being, and talking about the community and the shared experience for all, but I also know that both of you are looking at dominating competition and winning this for your team. And so Team Vertech, what's your approach to win this thing and to build this next-gen dashboard? Obviously, without giving away any secrets.

Ryan: Yeah, Kent. Our plan to win this competition is really simple, we're gonna build an Exchange resource that truly is a next-generation dashboard that people can use and adapt quickly in any industry. So whether you're an end user looking to wow people within your organization or you're an integrator, you're gonna be able to wow your customers, 'cause we're gonna do this with a whole lot of style. So the whole industry needs to just buckle up and reimagine what it means to build a dashboard.

Kent: Alright. Team Flexware, are you gonna take that? How are you guys gonna win this thing, and what's your approach for building the next-gen HMI? 

Reese: Well, to say this competition is civil is kind of not accurate, but... The approach kind of for ours is, with the next-gen HMIs, really to create something that is a revolutionary in this space across any application or industry, whether that's food, food and bev, pharmaceutical, water, wastewater, personal playground at home. It's gonna be a game-changer. The resource we're bringing to the table is born out of feedback that I've personally gotten when talking to the Ignition community out on customer-exploration-type trips. It's gonna be an incredible, incredibly useful tool and something that everyone will wanna download and use, and I think in addition to providing the best Exchange resource to date, really we wanted to put on a show for the community, so we're cranking up the entertainment value to a whole ‘nother level, and I'll just put it this way, this is something that you will absolutely do not want to miss out on this year.

Scott: I would just say we already know what Vertech is building because we're sniffing out their computers and we've already got a pretty good understanding what their next-gen dashboards are.

Kent: Team Vertech, you can go and work with Mr. King on security over there. No, but... So I...

Ryan: He got our honey pot, so he knows what he thinks we're building.

Kent: There you go, awesome. Well, in the same spirit, in the same vein, Team Vertech, any parting words of warning for your opponent here? 

Ryan: Yeah, Reese, Scott, Flexware as a whole, just watch out. We've got two keys to success:  innovation and execution, and also we're Team Travis, the OG, Build-a-Thon champion team, there's just no way anything is gonna get in our way.

Scott: This is Scott, Kent, I would just say in all seriousness we've had a lot of fun working with Chris and Ryan. And the entertainment value Reese mentioned is serious, we're having a lot of fun to the buildup of this, but we're even collaborating outside of the Build-a-Thon on best practices within our businesses and really want to credit Inductive Automation and the community for bringing us together in this capacity as competitors, but we're finding a lot of value in the friendship as well.

Kent: Well, perfect, I'm glad that we've been able to bring together Vertech, Flexware as frenemies, and we think it'll be highly entertaining to watch them go head-to-head during the Build-a-Thon, certainly not something that you're gonna wanna miss, so...

Reese: After Ryan's words, I feel like I need to say something about them.

Kent: Tell us about it, Reese.

Reese: Well, I mean, you mentioned, he mentioned, Team Travis, but really Team Kevin has a leg up on the competition this year because we're the most recent winner of the Build-a-Thon, and that went to Team Kevin, so we definitely have the momentum going for us, and I would just say to Ryan and Vertech, I know you guys have putting on some great stuff, I'm not discounting that, but I'm confident in my abilities and our ability at Flexware, and I'm interested to see if they can step up their game and provide some worthy competition to the Integrator of the Year award winners of last year.

Kent: There you go. I think we're all excited to see that.

Don: I just wanna throw this in 'cause I see a question here, and it actually goes your direction, you kind of slid over the subject of entertainment value and music, but there's a question here from Phillip here says, "Any new music videos from Kent and the Ignition 8 for this year? Sure would be great." So I just happen to know that we had a meet-and-greet at the company last week in our parking lot, and the Ignition band did a whole set, you've taken it to a whole new level, so there's no pressure on the music video side... I'm just saying, just saying, there seems to be some interest, so, I'll leave it at that.

Kent: Thank you, Don. And we did, the IA band did get back together and we had some discussions internally. They overrode my decision on the name, we are no longer Kent and the Ignition 8, we are the IA Department of Funk. And we...

Don: Oh cool! 

Kent: We are indeed, let's just say I can't make any announcements or anything about the entertainment for the Build-a-Thon, but let's just say it wouldn't really be a Build-a-Thon if we didn't have something musical that was gonna go down, so stay tuned and be excited.

Don: Fantastic, thank you for sharing.

Kent: Well, sounds good. So yeah, we're excited to see who wins this year, Team Vertech or Team Flexware, as was alluded to, the real winners of this are really gonna be all of you, because the things that they build, both ahead of time, the resources they build and their actual final projects will all be uploaded to the Ignition Exchange so that you can leverage those and use those for your future projects. And that kind of leads us into our next topic, which is just like last year, we are holding another Ignition Exchange Challenge as part of ICC, and so we are calling on the entire Ignition community in the US and internationally to upload their most creative resource to the Ignition Exchange by the end of this month. Because at the end of August, we're gonna take a look at all the new resources that have been uploaded and we will choose the most innovative resources and give them a shout-out during ICC and will feature them prominently on the Exchange after the conference.

Kent: And so to enter this Exchange Challenge, all you need to do is upload a resource publicly to the Exchange before the end of this month, August, and we'll consider any resource that has been uploaded since ICC 2020, so if you've already uploaded something in the last year, you don't need to go and re-upload that, it's already submitted, it's already in for contention. So that's it, there's nothing else to do. And if you needed one more reason to enter, every developer who submits a resource between last year's ICC and the end of August 2021 will get a free custom-designed Exchange T-shirt. Got these, I already got mine, 'cause I've submitted a resource to the Exchange as well, and it's a good-quality shirt. So be excited. And so this whole thing, it's an offer you can't refuse, we look forward to seeing you, and your latest and greatest resource, and with that, back to you, Doug.

Doug: Yeah, those are some good-looking T-shirts, and I'm really excited to see what people put into the Exchange this year, so this last segment here, before we close out the webinar, I just want to talk about some of the improvements we're making for the overall user experience in the conference, and the main way we're doing that is with two new platforms that we're using to really kind of up our game and make it that much easier to both consume the content of the conference as well as network with other conference attendees. So the first one I'll tell you about here is a platform called Attendify. Attendify has integrated streaming and communication features that provide a holistic way to facilitate more engaging livestreams and improved networking so attendees can use direct messaging, group chat, and the mobile app to easily connect with other presenters and attendees during the conference, by using Attendify we'll also be able to host more live interactive content this year, which will be interspersed throughout the conference, they'll both be pre-recorded sessions as well as live sessions, and all of that will be 100% accessible inside Attendify.

Doug: So when people sign up for the conference this year and then come, they'll be able to get access to Attendify and all of our conference content will be in that one environment, which will make it really easy to get to everything the conference has to offer from your desktop and your mobile phones. For the networking, we're using a new networking platform called Wonder, and so oftentimes at virtual conferences, you don't get the feeling of being in the same space with other people, Wonder solves that problem by putting a virtual you in a virtual room, so when you're in a virtual Wonder room, you can video chat with up to 15 people at a time, and you can easily hop in and out of conversations, as well as turn conversations public or private to allow people in.

Doug: It basically is a user interface that allows you to organically meet and start video conversations with other people, and this will be a great way to network with people at the conference, and so what we've done is we've actually planned several virtual meet-ups throughout the conference, to allow people to interact with each other. Here's a look at those meet-ups, we'll start off our first virtual meet-up with the opening reception at the very beginning of the conference, and then we also on that Day 1, have a meet-up where you can meet many of the exhibitors that we're gonna have at the conference this year, we're also gonna have a way for people to meet the various staff members of Inductive Automation, those will be those first virtual meet-ups, each will be an hour long and they'll be at planned times throughout that first day of the conference.

Doug: And then on Day 2, we're gonna have a virtual meet-up where you can meet some of the engineers at Inductive Automation, including our sales engineers. We'll have a meet-up where you can kind of meet and interact with the Discover Gallery folks that put great projects in this year, and at the end of the conference, we're gonna have a bit of an after-party meet-up for people who kind of decompress and talk to each other and share their stories about what they enjoyed at the conference, those are all planned throughout the conference and we'll be using the Wonder platform for that, and it'll be a really great opportunity to meet and network with new people for your fellow attendees at the conference, so we're really excited about using both Attendify and Wonder to improve our user experience and improve our networking at the conference this year.

Don: Thank you so much. Yeah, we're very excited about Wonder. I think it's gonna give this opportunity a little more... A little more touch with you in the community, which we're totally looking forward to. I also wanna just make sure I invite anyone who hasn't registered for ICC yet to sign up at icc.inductiveautomation.com, as it's been mentioned by Doug, it's totally free, you get access to all of the sessions and events we've talked about this morning as well as many others, the sessions will also be available on demand after the conference dates, so you can watch them at your own convenience. You can also use the #ICCevolve hashtag on social media to spread the word about ICC and see updates about the conference as they happen. It kinda looks like we got most of the questions that in the process that I see in the queue, before we do finally wrap up, Kent, I just wanna ask you if there's any other questions that came up throughout that you see in the queue there, or that you wanna make sure you focus or emphasize before I give us a final wrap-up.

Kent: Just to be really clear here, 'cause there are a couple of questions that people had asked and then felt weren't answered around what do they need to do to get access to this content? And so maybe, Doug, if you can really quickly just talk about what content do they just need to be just generally registered for ICC to see, and what content has its own separate registration, like the International sessions from the distributors? 

Doug: Yeah, that's a good question. Happy to cover that. So when people register for the conference, they will be getting an email from us shortly before the conference starts, which will have a link that will allow them to jump into Attendify and be able to access the content we have for the conference, so the content basically breaks out to two different types as far as how they interact with it, there's gonna be pre-recorded sessions that will be available at certain times of the conference where people will be able to click on that when the time for that session is coming, and they'll be able to watch the video when it's released. There's also gonna be some live events that are basically live sessions that are planned throughout the conference, those will be at certain times now, some are those events you'll be able to watch livestreaming through our platform. An example of this will be the Build-a-Thon will be a livestreamed event as well the Dev Panel, but then some of the events will require additional registration, those events that require additional registration are part of our international track, as well as we're gonna have some of our exhibitors also presenting some live sessions this year.

Doug: Those will require an additional registration to be able to view it on their platform because we have various distributors as well as exhibitor partners that are going to be showing their content through their platform, whether that be a GoToMeeting or some other type of platform, which is why it'll require an additional registration, so that will be very clear in the Attendify platform, when you click onto that session, there'll be a clear registration link that will require you to register to be able to view that at the time it happens, that also is visible if you go to our conference website now, and there's several different tabs under Schedule, if you look at either the international tab, or I think it's the Exhibitor Session tab, you can see there's either already a register link there or there's a Coming Soon register link, and if you see that, just know that that's one of the ones you have to put an additional registration in to view that, so that's the difference there, but everything will be accessible through Attendify either watching it, just straight up, it's there or having an additional register to take part in it but it's those live events that will require those in some cases.

Don: That is fantastic. Is there any other questions at all? Kent, do you see or can I give it a wrap-up here? 

Kent: So for those who may have missed past ICC and you're excited to hear about these past Build-a-Thon we've had or past Dev Panels or even keynotes, a lot of that content is available for free on the ICC website, so you can feel free to go to icc.inductiveautomation.com and go under the... I think it's called Archive, and you can see some of those past sessions, and so if you just can't wait for ICC, you can get a little bit of a fix there by going and seeing some of the past sessions, always good to go look at that content, and also if there was content here that you're wishing that other members of your team could see, all of these Ignition Community Lives go up on our website, and so feel free to check it out there and send any links to anyone, who needs to know about ICC. But with that Don, I think that's all the questions.

Don: That is fantastic. With that we'll move to a thank you, and we'll see you at ICC and we will be back with Episode 30 of Ignition Community Live in October. Stay connected until then, follow us on social media, subscribe to our weekly newsfeed and on our podcast. And thank you very much for attending today. Have a great day.


Posted on July 27, 2021