Integrator Roundtable Discussion: Winning More Business with New Technology

53 min video  /  47 minute read

About this Webinar

Learn how other leading integrators are taking on some of today’s big challenges.

Successful system integrators continually need to find and secure new business. When approaching a prospective customer, you need to be confident that you can deliver whatever the customer needs. That confidence is based on your own skills as well as knowing that you have the best possible technology and support behind you.

In this webinar, a panel of experienced integrators will discuss their successes in finding new business by leveraging today’s best new technology.

What you will learn:

  • Customers' biggest pain points and how to solve them
  • The top skills in demand in the integration field
  • How integrators are helping enterprises deal with Big Data, Windows XP end-of-life, and more
  • The biggest advantages of being an Ignition integrator
  • Plus, get answers to audience questions from our expert panel

Webinar Transcript

Don: Good morning everyone, and welcome to today's Integrator Round Table Webinar, Winning More Business With New Technology. I'm Don Pearson, Chief Strategy Officer for Inductive Automation, and I will be the moderator for today's session. Just to give a little idea of what we're gonna cover. First I'll just say a few things about Ignition, “The New SCADA,” to introduce it to those who are not really familiar with it. Then we're gonna go into looking at discussion that will cover three main areas. First one being the needs of customers. Let's say your end users, the industrial organizations that you work with, and how integrators like yourselves can be successful in the current marketplace. And then how Ignition and Inductive Automation can help integrators to even be... To be more successful. And then we'll wrap up with some audience Q&A. We'll get to as many of your questions as we can during our time limit. Some of you did submit questions, which we always welcome prior to the webinar, so we'll definitely cover those too. But if you think of a question during the discussion, please type it in. We'll do our best to answer it in the last part of the webinar. But if we can't get to your question, we'll definitely follow up on that too.

Don: Just a little background on Inductive Automation. We were founded in 2003. Our CEO and founder is Steve Hechtman. He actually comes from about... At that time, 20 years of background in the integration business. It was really an interesting rocket ride over that period of time. We've become the fastest growing HMI, SCADA, and MES software company in the world. Ignition now has tens of thousands of installations. Actually it's in 85 countries now. We're over 1100 integrators serving those countries. And really, it's used in virtually every industry that you can imagine. Both discrete and processes manufacturing, oil and gas, water, wastewater, food and beverage, automotive, government, transportation, really, data centers, packaging, and any, almost any you can think of. We're pleased to have 30% of Fortune 100 companies as our customers and 20% of Fortune 500 using software in various ways to build their HMI, SCADA, and their MES systems.

Don: Just quickly, I'd like to discuss what Ignition is and why it's different than other SCADA solutions, because it's not just another brand of SCADA software. The best way to describe it that we've found is to really call it the new SCADA because it is the first and only software of its kind when you put it into the business model and licensing package, along with the technology. It really is an expansion of the definition of that acronym, Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition...

Don: And it encompasses really the entire enterprise and puts control back in the hands of the user, wherever that user may sit, and whatever their needs may be from the plant floor to the top floor inside organizations making real-time data available. And so it really connects well with both the plant floor and on the back end to the ERP systems. From the platform itself to how we deliver that and how we support that, everything about Ignition is just focused on creating the best possible user experience in the industrial software industry today for all types of industrial organizations. Probably the best way to talk about the new SCADA is to do it as we do, we say there's four distinguishing pillars to Inductive Automation’s business model, and they're really differing old SCADA from the new SCADA, new technologies, new licensing model, new business model, new ethical model. In terms of new technology, it's web-based, unlimited server-based licensing, combines industrial grade security with its unified architecture, and it offers real-time controller monitoring, rapid development tools, and a wide variety of SCADA and MES modules built on top of that platform.

Don: Also, our new licensing model, instead of limiting your system, the goal with Inductive Automation is to unleash innovation and creativity with you, with your customers, for their organizations. So the new SCADA is licensed to scale your company, no matter how large it grows, and allows you to really get the full benefits of the software. So unlimited clients, tags, devices, concurrent designers, etcetera. New business model too 'cause the new SCADA is more than just software, as I mentioned, an entire organization and really building out all of the seven major functional areas of our organization to support you. So our support of the Ignition community is to have a strong integrator program, strong support, industry-leading training, and to really build an organization behind the technology so you get what you need to accomplish your task with your customers. And last, but I think also important is a new approach and a new responsibility to our community.

Don: A new ethical model, if you will, because we really are... It is true that Inductive Automation we're driven by responsibility to create not just the best possible industrial automation software, but also to make that back... Yeah, back that up with the support, with the organization, with the connection to the community, with the development going forward to really contribute to a prosperous industry for all the people that are working in that industry.

Don: So obviously if you wanna know more about Ignition, you can certainly go to our website, you can download the software. I'll mention that again later, but basically take time to become familiar with it. But in today's group, what we're really gonna try and focus on is really to have a number of panelists in the integration business talk about their business, how they're approaching challenges in the marketplace, how they're using newer technologies to win business, the role that Ignition can play in helping you build the integration business. I will talk a little bit about our integrator program and the support we give to integrators. But more than anything else, today is a time for you to get some feedback from peers in the integration business in the various ways that they've found their business improving. I do know that there's the challenges faced when you're looking at just daily life and integration. Don't leave a lot of time to sort of stop, take a time out, and start something totally new.

Don: So how people have evolved within that business to be successful and the role Ignition has played is what we'll explore today. As I introduce our panelists, I'll also say that we're looking at it from a perspective of how they have addressed all those challenges and how they might be able to share something with you that could be of value as you look at the challenges you're facing. And with that, please feel free as I said earlier, to ask whatever questions you want. Now, let me just introduce our panelist. I'll start by introducing Mark Daugherty. He's the principal of Overbridge Technology based in Pennsylvania. And Mark, I think it's best that you do the introduction of yourself. Tell us a little bit about yourself, a little bit about your company and background, years in the business, industry, service specialties, etcetera, that kind of stuff. So, Mark.

Mark: Good morning everybody. My name is Mark Daugherty. I'm at Overbridge Technology of Mays, Pennsylvania. I've been in business, with this month, it's 30 years. We're a little bit different than, the, what you might call the traditional systems integrator and that we've never done any controls works, panel work or anything of that nature. We do primarily, always have done process-based business systems, from manufacturing floor all the way up. We've been using Ignition for about four years. It is our platform of choice for everything we do these days. And it's turned out to be an incredible tool that's opened up a lot of opportunity for us. Prior to using Ignition, we were working primarily in the paper and printing industry. An industry on decline, and we looked at what was going on. And so we need to find a way to expand our business. And Ignition is the tool that has allowed us to do that. And today when we do our business, very little is done on paper printing and it's done in a bunch of different industries.

Don: Thanks, Mark. Appreciate the introduction and a little bit of background. Now I'm moving to J.C. Harrison. Is the Systems Engineering Manager at Roeslein and Associates. Roeslein is headquartered in St. Louis with other offices in the US, the UK, and China. So J.C., tell us a little bit about yourself, your company, your background, years in business, industry served, etcetera.

J.C.: Thanks, Don. Good morning. Yeah, our company is a full systems integration company and construction management and systems integration company. We service primarily the packaging industries, the beverage industry, the canning industry around the world. And we do have offices also in Denver. And I've been doing this over 20 years now and continue to enjoy doing it.

Don: Thanks J.C., and welcome. Really appreciate your time today. I'm gonna move on to Dee Brown. He's the Principal of Brown Engineers based in Arkansas. He already told me, Dee, that the weather's really good out there today, so that's good. I'm sure you're having a good day, and I'd like you to introduce yourself and take a little minute, tell us about Brown Engineers and how long you've been in the business, industry served, etcetera.

Dee: Okay, thank you, Don. Good morning, everyone. Yes, my name's Dee Brown with Brown Engineers. We're in Little Rock. I've been doing electrical engineering for about 22 years. Eight of that of the past years have been with Brown Engineers. And so we are an electrical and mechanical engineering consulting firm. But we've also found a niche with some system integration and control system work in the electric and water and wastewater utilities industry. And so we have found the Ignition product to be particularly useful in helping integrate lots of areas of those businesses with these new tools.

Don: Great. Thanks and welcome Dee. And our final panelist, I'd like to introduce Gabriel Rodriguez. Is systems integrator for WaterHammer Inc. based in Southern California. So Gabe, can you give us a little bit about your background in the company, just something about industry served, and take it away. Go ahead.

Gabriel: Yes, thank you, Don. Well, good morning everyone. As Don already said, my name is Gabriel Rodriguez and I have been a system integrator for WaterHammer for about a year and a half now. The company was started in 1998 by Sonya Scribing, and we've been doing business for 16 years, primarily in the water and wastewater system integration, but we've been expanding into new industries with the adoption of Ignition software.

Don: Great. Welcome, Gabe. We really appreciate your time this morning. So thanks to all of our panelists for joining us. I just wanna maybe set the table a little bit for today's discussion with a little bit of a look from a couple different perspectives at the automation industry overall. JP Morgan and the Control System Integrators Association, CSIA, released the survey results in July, taking a look at overall industry health. And the survey did show what they called a steady lift in the automation industry, forecasted 5% to 15% growth in the coming months, increased activity in food and beverage, chemical, oil and gas industries. And basically pointing out there really are opportunities for integrators to grow their businesses in the current market. And today what we wanna do is discuss some ways to seize and maximize those opportunities because I think you can look at something like this...

Don: It's a relatively optimistic forecast, but what we're also finding through our integrator program is our integrators are also ending up with customers that are doing more because they're seeing more opportunity with the capabilities and breadth, innovative possibilities with Ignition. So we're gonna basically discuss some of the things that have to do with ways to maximize those opportunities as you look at the integration business you're working with. I'm gonna start with the first step to success for any integrator is actually understanding what your customers need. So I think that's probably not a bad place to begin our discussion today. So in terms of technology, let's take a look at concerns and pain points. And with that, I think I'll begin with asking this question to Dee Brown. Why don't you give us your thoughts on technology, customer's biggest concerns, customer's biggest pain points.

Dee: Okay, Don. Well, we work with a lot of utilities, both small, medium, and large. And it's interesting, one of my engineers was in Oklahoma last week reviewing a wastewater plant that their control system hadn't been upgraded since we worked on it the first time about well back in 1999. And you do see some areas where folks have not embraced new technology or made any changes to their system in a long, long time. And then on even at large utilities, they have a huge investment in some of their control system technology. And they can sometimes think there's no way we could ever afford to change gears or change to a new platform. But we're seeing some advances in technology that are making that a game changer. We see that across the spectrum, small and large utilities.

Don: Thanks Dee. Gabe, why don't you give me your thoughts on this question too, in terms of the technology. What are biggest pain points, biggest concerns for your customers?

Gabriel: Okay. Well, most of our customer’s concerns is pretty much like Dee already said, is having them believe that a new SCADA, MES options are... Like Ignition are possible. With not having upgraded for a long time, not being aware of the new technologies, it's probably been the biggest issue.

Don: Great. We do, we certainly see that understanding what the possibilities are is sometimes difficult to get across 'cause the technology has moved so fast in this area for a traditionally slow-moving area. We find that there's pretty good receptivity when you start using newer technologies once people get across that barrier of looking at something new. How about J.C. Harrison, your thoughts on this?

J.C.: One of the things that we face is the newer generations coming into the engineering marketplace, they come into the marketplace with no fear, if you will. They believe anything that they think they can do, and they're working for people who are used to having limits set from the very beginning. And we have to convince them that there's ways to do this, to continue to provide a way in which for people to be creative without limits, but at the same time give confidence that a system is reliable and will continue to work 24/7.

Don: Good, Thanks, J.C. Yeah, it does seem like you might have... There might be some generational thing there with newer people coming in. They're not used to having limits, but they're coming into organizations that may be comfortable with their legacy systems, not looking at them regularly and they have to basically start moving a little bit faster with that employee who wants to see the possibilities. Thanks for your comments. How about you, Mark Daugherty?

Mark: Yeah, we work primarily, we're in the area of manufacturing execution systems with data integration. And it's based upon history that most of our clients and prospects have experienced it when they've attempted these systems in the past. It's been very painful to try to integrate this data because of the different systems out there, the different levels of automation, the different ways to get the data. A lot of those experiences have been negative and they've left an impression on them. With Ignition, since it is an all-encompassing platform from the OPC data all the way up using architecture to deal with the ERP systems, it just opens that up and it's the pain point they have is based on past experience, it's cost and won't really work. And what we have proven with Ignition is that indeed it does work.

Don: Yeah. Mark, just a follow on question. I know you do a lot with the manufacturing execution systems, like you said MES solutions, and having conversations with you before, not that others don't, but I know you enter at the C-level very often in some of your discussions. Do you find the pain points, I know you did mention one being cost and will it work? Any other comments on the pain points if you're addressing a C-level person versus someone on the plant floor or a different level throughout the organization?

Mark: Generally, I think again, it goes back to the history of particular marketplace. Whenever they think of this thing, they think of a CapEx large-scale project. And that is a pain point when you think about it because in general, large-scale CapEx projects of MES don't really work that well. With Ignition we're able to scale it appropriately. Again, Ignition is a platform, once the platform is in, we can then build on top of that. And because of that we scale our projects according to a really defined solution, and then we do it on an incremental basis. So that has really alleviated that. The biggest fear we have from the C-level is that number one, cost, number two success, and three, how is it gonna be communicated downstream in the organization of what they want it to do.

Don: Great. Thanks for your comments on that. Let's take a look at enterprises that are dealing now with a lot more data than ever. They're moving more data to the cloud using different types of databases. We're looking for other types of data solutions. Maybe I'll start this one off with you, Mark. Just your comments on the evolution of some of the disruptive technologies, Big Data, the cloud, social, mobile using all these different types of databases and looking for other types of data solutions. Thoughts on that?

Mark: Yes, I do, as a matter of fact. The end result is this, I literally can have too much data. And what I mean by that is, in the old days, you went seeking a piece of data and you worked at it and you got it, and then you managed that piece. These days you can get data so readily and store it, manage it, store it in all different places, have it available to all different members of the organization, that it becomes a case of putting a value on the data. Now we have all this, what really... What is really meaningful and how do we really manage it? And if you sit that on top of the architecture where data is everywhere, it becomes a really interesting situation to determine how to get the... How to value data and how to get it to where it needs to go, to the right people.

Don: Good. Thanks, Mark. Gabe, your thoughts on the... Some of the newer technologies and obviously moving data to the cloud, using different types of databases where data is stored. Your thoughts on that from the perspective of your customers?

Gabriel: Yeah. Most of our customers are typically enterprise wise, have an Oracle database, which gives us the ability to present all of their ERP and SCADA information together in a single platform when using Ignition. So, I mean, moving into the cloud isn't always their forte.

Don: Sure. Good, thanks. And, J.C., what do you think?

J.C.: Well, the cloud comes into the play in my answer, and actually next month when we come out there and to the conference, I'm actually gonna be giving a seminar on some of the applications that we've deployed based on the tags presented in Ignition's MES module. Our customers, they run their plants 24/7 and downtime is something that they have to be aware of almost immediately. So, we've taken Ignition's tags and developed some really nice applications for the customers.

Don: That's great J.C., I look forward to your presentation as we bring together you at the conference, so that's gonna be great. Just one thing that comes to mind as I was reading an article in which ML from General Electric was being interviewed in a fast company article, and his comment was on locomotives and jet engines and things, and what they're becoming these amazing generators with all the sensors and data gathering. You're talking about one day's work of a 787 engine is a terabyte of data. You start talking 20,000 locomotives around the world. I mean, we're talking about huge huge quantities of data and like you pointed out, Mark, you gotta basically look at that from how do you get value out of that? It's not just quantity, it's what quality and what filtering and how do you analyze to get actionable information from that. Dee, did you have any other comments on this or not?

Dee: Well, I think other types of data solutions, we see a lot of folks that are now have the tools to integrate database-type information into their SCADA system or their HMI system and literally get away from clipboards, pen and paper and whiteboards on the wall. So we're just continuing to see an integration of other parts of their business or other departments into what used to be only the process control system. And there's a lot of benefit to that.

Don: Great. Thanks. Just if anybody has any comment on this, and it was mentioned yesterday in the dry run that you had one customer that was... Had 55 different forms of the into Excel, and then you had the challenges with technology of how that got transferred and operator error. Any comments on the handling of data and the changing of the way some organizations traditionally have to using newer technologies?

Mark: Well, this is Mark speaking and it actually goes along with something that Gabe just said. He mentioned an Oracle database and what we end up in, the type of systems we get involved with, we may have more than one database engine type out there. It's not uncommon for us to be talking to Oracle at the ERP level and talking to SQL server at the production management level and via Ignition. When you think... Normally when you think of a SCADA product, you think that it's going to talk to a DBF or access or a single database engine. Because of the way it works, we can have simultaneous connections with different engines and have the data integration taking place, and that's a technical thing that has really come to the forefront on how we're using it.

Don: Great. Thanks Mark. Just moving along with one more thing: customers needs. There's been a fair amount for... Talked about for a long time, but in April 8th, that became a reality that when those XP end of life actually happened, and how has that affected any of your customers? Maybe so, maybe not. If so, or what solutions have you offered them to deal with that end of life? Gabe, why don't I go ahead and start with you. Your thoughts on the Windows XP...

Gabriel: It definitely has affected a few of... Of course. It definitely has affected a few of our clients, but, since Ignition works with virtually any operating system, it opens up that conversation of, "Hey, what's the next idea? What's our next upgrade possibilities?" And since it's so easy to put it with any operating system, when you upgrade to a new platform, it's always, ah, I can't think of the word.

Don: I think you made a comment yesterday about it becomes a painless path to upgrade because of the 'cause of the flexibility.

Gabriel: There you go.

Don: Yeah. So that's good. Thank you. And how about, J.C., your thoughts on this?

J.C.: Well, we don't face too many XP situations anymore. Ours are primarily new installations. So, maybe to have to defer this answer to another one of the panelists, Don.

Don: That's no problem. As like I mentioned before, when we're talking, if you don't have an answer to something, we'll just move on. We're just... We'll try and share as much as we can of things that might make sense to our audience today of integrators. So then, Mark any comments on this from your side?

Mark: Oh, just, and this is a general comment. When we started using Ignition, we took three of our legacy systems that were written in there, our own proprietary-type platform, and converted them over to Ignition. Based upon that, we knew that there was many, there were many XP clients out there, and we knew at some point that they were gonna have to go away. I went out to a client in Ohio a couple months ago, and I was out on the factory floor, and it was really interesting and in that all the XP machines are gone. They were all running the WinPro 7. And, they never even called us because it was just a seamless transition from the XP machines over to the XP Pro machines. So it's really, it's end of Windows XP doesn't really affect us using Ignition.

Don: I think that I do understand that. I'm pleased to hear you guys saying that because that certainly is one of the goals, is that because if you can take a platform like Ignition, you can say it doesn't matter, if you go Windows, various versions, Linux, MacOS, these are all just platforms that you can be enwrappled with Ignition. So it should give you more flexibility with your customers. Dee, any comments on the Windows XP end of life or any other thoughts on customer’s technology needs?

Dee: Yeah, the Windows XP issue has opened up some conversations for us with our clients. And, we've successfully implemented Linux or Java on top of Linux with Ignition in several instances and have had that work with very good success. And so that has helped clients kind of be willing to move away from Windows into some other things so they don't feel locked into that. And it's been a good move.

Don: Great. Thanks. Let's move on a little bit to the second area of discussion today, which is, “How Can Integrators Succeed?” I'll intro this by saying we have conversations every day with our integrators where the commitment to the integrator, as the person who's actually selling Ignition out in the marketplace, we know that that's only gonna be as good as they're successful in their business. So let's talk a little bit about some of the challenges that may be faced and how you as integrators can share some thoughts with the integrators on their webinar today for their business. So you have this... I mean, there's a lot of competition, there's a lot of commoditization that's going on in control systems and integration businesses, and how do you set yourself apart from other integrators? Gabe, I think I'll give you a chance to comment first on that. So how do you set yourself apart and handle the competition?

Gabriel: Okay. Generally, we offer services that span all the way from project concept through preliminary design, detailed design, construction, and aftercare. And I believe that's what makes us so competitive in these categories is our adoption of the latest technologies across all disciplines, creating a superior value.

Don: Great. Thanks. And J.C., how do you differentiate yourselves? How do you handle the commoditization of the competition world?

J.C.: Well, Don, when we're proposing work or entering in a competitive bid situation, we try to concentrate on our services and our... The abilities and the technologies that our company brings to the table as opposed to concentrating on other integrators... All of our engineers are trained... Most of them are trained to the highest level that Ignition offers. And so we approach it with a lot of confidence. And we just talked more about our company as opposed to the competition.

Don: I think actually J.C., I know you mentioned that yesterday too. I think it's a very, very positive and powerful point, is to focus on what you can do, focus on your competencies. The competencies of your team, and what you can bring to the party to serve your customers because it's a good, positive high road based on effectiveness that I think is a very strong differentiator. So, Mark Daugherty, how about yourselves and what you do with Overbridge?

Mark: Well, I think number one is we listen and understand what the issue is or what the solution the client thinks they're after. These days, we no longer discuss the cost of the platform, or what's involved as far as operating systems, etcetera. Because Ignition is an open platform, published cost system. There's no surprises. They can go on their website and see how much it costs and they know it's going to cost them. What we do is we... We're more of listening and consulting relationship with them, understanding the issue, come with a solution. And what it is, is we package our solution in the form of software and encapsulate it in Ignition, that becomes the vehicle to supply the solution. I think number one is, everything we do is based upon the individual customer's needs. There's nothing “can't” that we do. We go in, understand what they want to do, and put together a solution that's tailored specifically for them 'cause the way Ignition works, we can do it in a very cost effective manner. It's not a case where it's customized code.

Don: Thanks Mark. And Dee, your thoughts?

Dee: Well, I'd have to agree with what Mark just said, that we do have to tailor-fit the solutions to the client's needs. And even though we try to tout our engineering services and professional qualifications we obviously do design build projects that no two are alike. And so you've gotta be able to tailor-fit that. You've gotta listen well to what the customer's needs are. But we found that the tool set with Ignition really helps that because some folks are still happy with the one screen in the control room on the operator's console, but other folks are becoming more mobile. They want email alerts and text-based alerts, and that's how they rely on those to help them manage their system. Utility companies may operate very differently, say from a privately owned data center. We've done several data center monitoring system projects that have a different set of goals than what a traditional control system might look like. And so being able to listen to that and tailor it to what the owner wants is a real key.

Don: Great. Thanks a lot. I'd just like to take a look at basically... And you need to give a quick answer to this if anyone has anything on it, that when you're looking for growing your business, what kind of skills are you looking for when you're hiring an integrator now? I just... I'm not necessarily gonna ask that of everyone, but I just open it up if anybody wants to comment on that question. Anybody have any thoughts on what you're looking for when you're hiring people?

Dee: Well, this is Dee. I'll go first, but...

Mark: Oh, this is Mark speaking.

Don: So Dee, you'll go ahead and go first and then Mark, you follow up.

Mark: That'd be fine.

Dee: Okay. So, even though we're in a very technical business, I tend to have to remind our engineers that we're really in a people business. That the people skills, being able to communicate and follow through on what we say we're going to do for them, is really a big part of that. And so that's important to us.

Don: Great. Thanks. Mark.

Mark: I think these days, what we look for is people with a lot of creativity. Not necessarily looking for electrical engineering, that sort of disciplines, but we're looking at more so these days as far as software developments. So always manufacturing process knowledge, they have to have that. But in general, it's their creativity, the willingness to listen. And I think it was J.C. who mentioned that in a prior meeting also they need to have some humility and really understand what's going on and be able to convey their ideas.

Don: That's great. Thank you very much for you guys' comments on that. Basically, and I think as we talk about growing a business and winning business, I just want to comment, 'cause I was looking at the Q&A also that, for anybody who wants to... Every one of our people, they, these are certified Ignition folks. We're gonna comment a little bit on how Ignition has helped them right now win business. But we are more than willing to also follow up with anybody that wants a more technical dive or a deeper dive to see how that might be approached technically. 'Cause the goal today was really to have a discussion with integrators on how they're running their business and how integration is helping them in that area. That being said, let's start with some of you guys have already kind of entered this. I'd like to give you a chance to elaborate on it with any additional information. Let's start with you. Mark, how have you as an integrator helped use Ignition to help you win business?

Mark: Well, as I mentioned in my intro, we started off our business working in the paper industry. Paper and actually printing. When I say printing it's a large, large web presses. If you put one in today it cost you $20 million. Due to the upcoming... Due to the way things are changing print and paper and all that, all that type of market is going down. Just decided a few years ago, we had to find a way to branch out, just take the manufacturing knowledge we learned and branch out in other industries and we use Ignition as the platform to go talk to other industries. It's manufacturer's manufacturing, but to be able to have a platform that can put something together on rather quickly and can cost faculty for a solution, it really works well as is all of that. If I would go through now what we've done in the past year, four years ago, we were doing nothing but print and paper. In the past year, we did modeling, we did produce processing, we did frozen food processing, we did cement, we did convert industry with fabrics. And we have more things that are coming up, sort of truly pretty limited markets that you go into these days.

Don: Mark, you had mentioned, you used the analogy of a painter and a canvas. And I'm certain that one of the goals of Ignition as a platform is to give the integrator the flexibility to go in whatever industries they find opportunity and in which they have interest.

Mark: Correct. And it's as the statement I've made is that we no longer... When we go in to see a client or a prospect, we don't dwell on the software these days. It used to be the case because you'd have to have many different types of software to make something work, something under vendor A underneath vendor B to get all together these days with Ignition don't need that. So that conversation goes by the side. Once they put the platform in, it's done, we can then build on it. And what we say to them is, and they tend to understand it very readily, is that it's more or less it's a canvas to paint on. It's there, once it's there, we can then look at a particular project, scale it appropriately, and then just go build it for that project on top of that platform. If a new project comes up to the same sort, we'll build that project. And because of Ignition's online platform, we know that they'll all be stable and they'll all integrate together very nicely.

Don: Thanks, Mark. Dee, can you make your comments and just basically the winning of business and how Ignition helps you do that?v

Dee: Well, for us, it's an answer that a lot of folks may have heard already, but it's being able to say “Yes” when the customer says “can you do web-based deployment?” “Yes.” “Can you do mobile platform? Can you do email alerts?” All those things. And connecting the databases everywhere is really just being able to say, “Yes, we have a platform and a tool set to do that.” And sometimes they can't hardly believe that the answer is yes. But that's been helpful.

Don: Yeah, I know I've commented before that our CEO and Founder Steve Hechtman says as an integrator, when he first started developing the legacy products and was using 'em in his integration firm, he began to just really enjoy going into an organization and just say, “Yes.” Can you do that? Yes. It's an unusual but very positive and powerful place to be in. Gabe, I'm not sure if I asked you for comments. Did you have any comments on this question or anything additional to add?

Gabriel: No. Nothing additional to add. Everybody pretty much covered it very well.

Don: Okay. And J.C. Harrison, how about yourself?

J.C.: Well, I have to agree with the people who've been talking about Ignition selling itself. You can point them... You can point somebody you're fixing to have a meeting with to the website. They can download white papers, they can download information about the modules, and the software's already sold itself before you show up and you can concentrate on exactly what the customer needs are.

Don: Thanks, J.C. One of the things I'd like to, as we move into the overall Q&A is to just ask, it's certainly a commitment here. I'm very involved in our integrator program with the Sales team and with the support organization here. We're trying to make our organization as user-friendly as possible to assist you to be successful. I'd just like to ask each maybe to comment on the integrator program and your experience, because I think there are people who are listening in here, who are on the phone, they're integrators on our program. Maybe they're considering it, maybe they're looking for a path to become more active and how that works and how you were able to scale up and make it be something that has impacted possibly your business. Maybe start with you, Dee Brown, your thoughts about the answer to this question.

Dee: Well, I think it still goes back to being able to say “Yes,” but the training part of what we've been able to get with Inductive has also been a huge part of the relationship there. For example, we haven't often had to call for some emergency kind of help, but we did have a situation where a client said their control system was down and called for some help. And I know for a fact we were able to get at least two engineers on the phone with Inductive pretty quickly and engage them in the process of troubleshooting with this, and in fact turned out to be a networking issue at the client side. It really wasn't a control system issue at all, and certainly wasn't a software issue, but just being able to know that kind of help is ready and available to assist is worth the time.

Don: Thanks Dee. And Gabe, how about your experience with WaterHammer?

Gabriel: In addition to the integrator support being free of charge, all the techs are extremely helpful and versatile with the software, which is just a huge help here at WaterHammer. And I would say the second biggest advantage would be, being part of the integrator community that is growing by leaps and bounds.

Don: Yeah. It was actually good, when we first met, it was last year at our Ignition Community Conference here in Folsom when I first met you guys and gotten more introduced to WaterHammer. So you guys been very active and we appreciate working with you too. So how about you, J.C. Harrison?

J.C.: A couple of things. Inductive Automation seems to have figured it out in terms of support for our guys. Some of our guys like to talk to people on the telephone, some of our guys like to do a form, and email support, and whichever method that they like we can get that type of support from Inductive Automation. And they've also been very impressed with your people being willing to stay late, get there a little bit early to answer questions, because we deal with many different time zones, we may call for support in Australia or China, and they've been very flexible in helping us with all that as well.

Don: That's great. Thanks J.C. Mark, any thoughts you can share that might be of value to the listeners as they're evaluating how involved they get with Ignition and Inductive Automation’s program?

Mark: Oh, no, I think primarily it's just that Inductive Automation, you guys listen whenever I call, and Harrison talked about somebody to listen to. They understand what we're up to, and there have been a couple cases where we would... We needed some functionality or needed to understand how to take the existing functionality and at least to know a different way. And it's just part of being an integrator. Someone is on the phone and we gotta figure it out. And also to the point where we come up with some of these features that might be good to have. And as you roll out releases, you put those features in. So it's a company that listens, not only do you listen, but you respond and you react. Very positive experience.

Don: Thanks for your comments, Mark. I appreciate it. As we've done these round tables and I will say that all of these individuals will be our Ignition Community Conference in attendance later in September, I do wanna say on the integration and the importance, so that those on the webinar today get this, Inductive Automation was founded by an integrator. He basically started by listing all the pain points he experienced as an integrator, and those became the pillars of Inductive Automation's philosophy and our mission and business model. That's where we all grew to unlimited licensing or free support for integrators, because we really see that you are the face to the customer. You're the people who are selling Ignition, you guys are implementing the programs, so if we can get you certified, give you free tech support, do good in-person training, then you are gonna be successful with your customers.

Don: And I think that makes it... It makes it a win for everybody. The program has, as I mentioned earlier, over 1100 integrators now and counting. If you want more information, just go to and you can find out all you need to know about that. And I often get asked, because if you go to our website you'll see we have Premier Integrators, people kind of move through the ranks in terms of certification. They can take our core course, they can register as an integrator, become certified as an integrator. They do advanced training and they can become Gold Certified integrator. And then the premier one certainly has all of the training. You get your MES certification here. But also on top of that deep, solid knowledge of Ignition, there's a volume of production, both in number of projects and type of projects and the volume of work you're doing and diversity and a solid business model as an integrator so that you have successful projects, happy customers, because we wanna make sure that we are supporting and flowing the highest level of exposure to the integrators who have that knowledge and the capability of really doing the projects successfully with their customers.

Don: So if anyone here, and I do have many conversations with integrators about their... And have many on an evolution to become Premier, please just, you can contact myself and I'll follow up with you and we'll develop whatever steps need to be taken for you to qualify as a Premier, if that's a route that you wanna go. And this was not designed to be a technical discussion today, it was really about integrators and how they use their Ignition in their business and how they address customer's needs. But please feel free. You can download the full version of Ignition on and just try it. You can develop a full project, you can try before you buy. We're trying to do everything we can to give the integrator the opportunity to really become familiar so that if they're making that kind of choice for their customers, they're comfortable with it.

Don: With that, I think I'd like to... There's a couple of questions here that are just... We'll just go into quickly, but one of them is, someone asked if anyone on the panel was a Cisco partner. So I'm curious if anyone on the panel was a Cisco partner. If you can, can you identify yourself? You may wanna have a conversation afterwards, but go ahead anybody? So the question... One of the reasons I think for the question is to know if anyone's bumped into Cisco composite software data virtualization. So Dino, I don't... We don't have anything to add on that there. And here's a question I'm gonna just address to the panel, is it that after the normal company activity, and having come across such a great company like yours, would there be, not be a possibility... Oh, I'm sorry. This is addressed to us, for you to present an accreditation to me or enhance ordering equipment. So I'll follow up with that question afterwards, 'cause it's more I think, for Inductive Automation. Overall question here is, “How important is it to have a good team of employees to support management?” And I think, anybody wanna address that question, the importance of good employees to support management in your efforts?

Mark: I'm not quite sure what side of the fence of the employees, is it on the client side or is it on the integrator side?

Don: I think you could answer it from both sides. I actually read it to be on the integrator side, but I don't know that that's, 'cause that's all it says from Aaron. That's all he asked.

Mark: Okay. Well, in our case, they just have to be, as I said earlier, good listeners, very creative and I think what's happened is, if you look at our history, we had our own proprietary platform to grow over 22 years before we come to Ignition. Once we got into Ignition, our people developed a passion for it. And it's great excitement in here, about everything we do in Ignition. So from our standpoint, it's been a real motivator for that. Also Ignition uses... Is written in Java, it has a lot to do with Java. And a lot of young programmers coming out of school today are Java people. So it's a really good way to get younger people into the automation business, because they really get excited about the platform itself and what it's written in.

Don: Okay. Another question I have here is, “The new technology that you are integrating, if it's not truly your own technology, what's the best, most appropriate way to market the capability of the technology?” This is Robert Harvey's question. So thoughts on the best way to market the capability of the technology to your customer base.

Mark: This is Mark again, I don't wanna hog the whole thing but, in our case, we view it as, it is an enabler. It lets us do positive things for clients. And that the way they build it, it allows us to, in a very incremental fashion, low risk to the client, low risk to us as far as it's gonna be a successful project. And I think that's that.

Don: Good.

Mark: That's how we would do it. It is a tool that we use and...

Don: Thanks Mark. This one is actually... Actually this one's for you J.C., and it says, we would like to wish J.C. Harrison a happy birthday today from the Roeslein systems department. We're currently getting nothing done listening to this awesome webinar.

Don: So happy birthday J.C., and your team is doing nothing right now.

J.C.: Yeah, I will have a talk with them when we're done here.

Don: Yeah. Speaking of having good people that support management, sounds like you got a problem, man. All they're doing is wishing you a happy birthday.

J.C.: Well, I will use this as a plug for the conference though. And I'm taking two of these guys with me to the conference in September. I've been doing this over 20 years and I've attended many, many different software integration conferences, and yours is the most unique. It is a bunch of integrators getting together and they share information as opposed to trying to compete against one another. And so we have that philosophy here and it doesn't surprise me that they're listening to this. And so thank you gentlemen.

Don: And happy birthday to you, J.C. too. I think I also wanna give us... We have just a few minutes left. And part of the goal here was to actually have each of you have an opportunity to share what you might consider to be something good to pass along to others who are either just getting involved with Ignition, trying to build their integration business and you have been successful in working in this industry. So I think I'd like to maybe go through each of you and give you sort of the open mic to finish off by taking a look at what is the... What's your advice to anybody looking at this and steps they may take and how they may be successful since the people who have been listening in today are... They're not here getting technical information, they're here actually getting, how do I make this business work? And our goal obviously, is to let them know that our integrator program is designed to help them do that. But let me hear from each of you. So I think I'll finish off today's webinar by asking each of you for sort of final comments and thoughts you wanna share. And Gabriel Rodriguez, I'm gonna begin with you and your final thoughts.

Gabriel: Okay. I think that the key thing to take away or to look at is that Inductive is here to help us as integrators succeed. And if you ever need any type of help, you can always call them, email them. They're very responsive. And they're here to help.

Don: Great. Thanks, Gabe. And then how about yourself, Dee Brown?

Dee: Well, I think what I'd like to end with is to let everybody know that we have actually, over a period of about four years, migrated all of our clients over to the Ignition product. And I think that that in itself speaks volumes about its ability to work in a lot of different environments with a lot of different people, a lot of different industries, even. The tool is, it can be all things to all people if you can tailor fit it to that customer. And we've been successful at doing that. So I would encourage everybody to look in that direction.

Don: Great. Thanks. Much appreciated. And, Mark, your final thoughts?

Mark: Yes. Download it and explore it, have some fun and get to understand it. It's what we did to get an idea of what it was, and I think it's the best way to start.

Mark: Good, thanks. And J.C. you wanna sort of wrap us up today and bring us home with any thoughts or recommendations or things you'd wanna share with the audience about your experience with Ignition and how they may find value working with it?

J.C.: Well, with Ignition, it's certainly something that you need to embrace. We do not propose work for integrating any other software at all anymore. We don't do the other ones. If they don't want to go with the Ignition route, we don't even enter a proposal. It's that good. And it gives the customer exactly what they need almost in every instance. And for those people considering joining the integration program, we'll see, you've got four people there at... It is an open community. You can contact any of us if you have further questions. Also, one more, the integration program is something that's worthwhile and of course all four of us think it is.

Don: Okay. Thanks so much J.C., and thanks Dee, Mark, Gabe, J.C., all of you for taking time out of your busy schedules to share. As we've done these integrator round tables, I've tried to use a variety of different integrators. Obviously our integrators are mildly biased 'cause they found value in Ignition in working with Inductive Automation, by the same token, one of the goals that we're really trying to accomplish with these round tables is give you a chance to hear some different perspectives. If you do want, a couple people did make comments that they thought this was gonna be a little bit more technical. We're happy to do technical, happy to have individual demos with you. You can call any one of our account executives you can follow up with me. We'll make sure we get something scheduled where you can see truly how the technology can be utilized. But as Mark said, download it, play with it, have some fun. We're really interested in Inductive Automation and doing what we can to help you be successful. So with that, I think we've come to the conclusion of our hour. Thank you very much for attending, and thanks a lot, and have a good rest of your day.

Posted on August 11, 2014