Transforming the Future

Transforming the Future

This piece was originally published as the president’s column in the November 2016 issue of electroindustry.

Kevin J. Cosgriff, President & CEO, NEMA

Global network background

Google Vice President Vint Cerf once quipped, “I used to tell jokes about internet-enabled light bulbs. I can’t tell jokes about them anymore—there already is an internet-connected light bulb.” Mr. Cerf is not only one of the fathers of the internet and chief internet evangelist for Google but also a headline speaker at the NEMA Annual Membership Meeting this month in Cleveland.

He is certainly apt speaker, given that this year’s meeting theme is “Transforming the Future.”

Internet-connected light bulbs illuminate the range and breadth of NEMA member products, as they animate the interoperable world known as the Internet of Th­ings. Components of industrial automation control systems, building systems, intelligent transportation devices, and medical imaging equipment are but a few.

It was this new, networked environment that prompted three questions that I put to NEMA members, staff, and readers last January:

  • Who are we now?
  • What do we believe?
  • Where should our industry be in 10 years?

I can tell you with certainty that the mature electrical manufacturing industry has many of the same attributes as spry startups: we are fundamentally relevant to the future and increasingly quick to advance new ideas. There is broad consensus that we believe in all types of connectivity, including networked products and systems, global trade, and interlinked workforces. Our industry is in the early stages of a transformational change from a largely industrial and informational age to an as-yet-unnamed one characterized by interconnectivity and ubiquitous data.

NEMA statistics are remarkable: we represent an industry of manufacturers, innovators, and job creators and directly encompass more than 300 companies that employ hundreds of thousands people and ship nearly $120 billion in electrical products annually. More important, however, is the cumulative genius resident in our members’ employees. ­They are not passive observers awaiting the future. Rather, they are active contributors to the essential electric substrate that will secure the future for their companies, communities, and families.

Where we will be in 10 years depends on our ability to grasp the nettle of the Internet of ­Things today. It is likely to be the defining work of the coming decade and it will not be easy or without risk. As Mr. Cerf suggested, “­The closer you look at something, the more complex it seems to be.” ­

That said, I invite you to take a closer look at our industry in this month’s magazine as we discuss a few ways in which NEMA and MITA are striving to transform the future at home, at work, and in healthcare. Complex or not, the transformation is ours to seize.

Read the November 2016 issue of electroindustry.

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