Collaboration and a Connected World: ARC Industry Forum

Collaboration and a Connected World: ARC Forum

Highlights From Days 2 and 3

February 08, 2019

Bright Florida sunshine greeted attendees of the 2019 ARC Industry Forum on the second day of the conference. To start, we were treated to an equally illuminating opening keynote and executive panel featuring speakers from ARC, BP, Dow Chemical and Ford, among others. There was a natural progression from the digital transformation theme kick-started on Tuesday.


Ford’s David Kramer talked about the uptake of smart vehicles in a connected world and noted, “the internet of things is about connecting things in a way that generates business value.” This dovetailed with advice from ARC Group’s Paula Hollywood on Tuesday that organizations should “look for the value.” (We heard later in the day from Jeff Brown of SAP that “digital transformation starts with the business challenge, not technology,” which summed up perfectly the day’s overarching theme.)


Panel members observed that working in cross-functional groups, as noted by AspenTech’s Robert Golightly on Tuesday, provides the greatest potential for IoT projects. Ralph Rio of ARC Group chimed in on Twitter: “Agree. Usually within a silo, things are well-managed. It’s between silos where waste and broken business processes exist because no one has responsibility.”



Improving Safety


BP’s Steve Beamer talked about IoT supporting safety drives and the benefits of the digital twin as a mirror for industrial plant infrastructure. Again, Steve pointed out collaboration as a key approach to turning an organization’s digital transformation into reality.


Billy Bardin from Dow Chemical shared a great safety use case for digital: employing drones and robotics to reduce confined-space work — and therefore the potential for injuries — for operations personnel. Another use case considered the potential for improving underwater maintenance performance.



Managing the Human Component of Digital Transformation


The panel discussed the interesting question of hiring sociologists to help with the human side of technology adoption. Dow has done this to support change management efforts.



Exploring the Potential of the Digital Twin


There was plenty of talk about the function and role of the digital twin — Bentley Systems CEO Greg Bentley referred to their strong potential for enabling cities to improve their resilience to floods. Everyone loved Greg’s “think big and go bold” rallying cry! At AspenTech, we’ve seen digital twins support supply chain optimization.



Day Three


Having met some penguins at Sea World the previous evening, the final day of this year’s ARC Forum kicked off with a discussion on Digital Transformation and Smart Manufacturing hosted by Janice Abel of ARC Group.


Janice opened her presentation on how manufacturing companies are addressing challenges by defining digital transformation as “the transformation of business, industrial products, operations, value chains and services that are enabled through the augmentations of people and knowledge through the expanded use of digital technologies.”


Janice noted that best practice suggests a focus on good leadership and strong organizational culture is the best way to create a long-term, successful digital transformation strategy as we head towards Industry 5.0.


Speakers from Goldcorp, Merck and Saudi Aramco shared their experiences and learnings from their organizations’ digital transformation journeys so far. Key observations included:

  • Involve the IT function in the solution.

  • Don’t try to "re-invent the wheel" — examine where others have gotten to with their use of technology.

  • Leverage your peers’ experiences to avoid pitfalls.
    Close the gap between manufacturing/operations and technology — silos do not work!


The theme of collaboration has been at the foundation of all the advice, best practices and thought leadership shared at this year’s ARC Industry Forum. I’m already looking forward to 2020!

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