Anyone who has attended a trade show understands that exhibitors are there to woo potential clients who will be impressed enough to purchase their wares. It's about sales. Two weeks ago, I attended IMX 2011 – “The Interactive Manufacturing Experience” in Las Vegas, a new type of manufacturing-centered trade show, focused on educating the attendees. The over-arching message there was one of a promising future for American manufacturing. Of the exhibitors and attendees I met, all said their businesses had largely recovered from the mess of our economy, and each was there to participate in discussions about innovation moving forward. With about 5000 registered attendants, and exhibitors representing large and small manufacturing concerns, this IMX 2011 provides a good compass for our manufacturing future here in the U.S.
Rather than a sales-centered approach, IMX 2011 provided hourly "Learning Labs", hosted by experience partners, right on the show floor, as well as knowledge bars hosted by exhibitors. There were also opportunities for one-on-one meetings for invitees with exhibitors.
I didn't have an opportunity to see Jim Carroll speak, but his report on the keynote speeches he gave during IMX 2011 has a very positive outlook for American Manufacturing, in spite of what he views as negative media spin as to the imminent demise of manufacturing in North America. Carroll is an author, columnist, media commentator, and consultant, with a focus on linking future trends to innovation and creativity.
According to Carroll, the future belongs to the agile - it no longer matters whether your company is large or small - if you can change quickly, you will have the edge. He exhorts his audience to tune out the day to day noise. If market volatility is the new normal, we need to focus on the "significant reinvention and transformation of the manufacturing sector that is well underway!"
Carroll believes there are clear trends leading to a sea change in the way manufacturing will work. Corporate agility and flexibility are at the top of the list. "Just because we've always done it that way" will be an excuse you'll hear less often. The arrival of "digital natives" for whom technology is like second nature, will ensure that the technology sector will continue to innovate, increasing the usage of "rapid technologies", allowing faster design and manufacturing capabilities. Which brings us to "faster to market", another of the key capabilities Carroll proclaims a requisite of the modern manufacturing business.
You can read more about Carroll's keynote here.
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