First and foremost, I am extremely excited to serve as 2014 president of ISA, an organization which has contributed so much to both my professional and personal growth. You see, my presidency is a celebration of two decades of ISA membership and service. Twenty years ago, in 1994, after accepting an invitation to speak at an ISA technical conference, I decided to join an ISA technical division. Since that time, I have been engaged with the Society in a marvelous exchange − of ideas, service, knowledge, and friendship.
Like so many ISA leaders, I have benefited from ISA membership. I have been able to participate in and give time and effort to ISA − a Society that has reciprocated by providing me amazing opportunities to learn and lead. And, as an added benefit, I’ve enjoyed access to outstanding technical resources, and have been blessed to work with and benefit from so many talented professionals, many of whom have become lifelong friends.
Meeting challenges and seizing opportunities
Exciting, Challenging, Opportunity. These are the three words that first come to mind when I think of ISA and the year ahead. 2014 promises to be a year of significant change for our Society, not just because of new leadership and governance, but because of the ever-changing world in which we must operate.
For example, our understanding of the global automation community is changing. As we begin to look for new opportunities for growth, our view must expand to include all of the various industry segments and markets that depend on automation every day. With this new perspective comes the recognition that ISA’s ability to provide products and services for automation (professionals and industries) extends far beyond the process industries − a market in which we have thrived for 67 years. We also enter 2014 with new and emerging technologies that allow us to engage in new and exciting ways with automation professionals and industries on the global playing field.
New and emerging technologies have created new opportunities for automation around the world, and have changed the roles, responsibilities, and needs of automation professionals. All of these developments impact ISA, its spectrum of products and services, and its audience.
ISA’s success both now and in the future depends on its ability to seize these opportunities while remaining relevant to its audience − to automation professionals and to the industries and entities they serve. And how do we remain relevant? We must continue to deliver value − both to individual members and to the global automation community − and we must do this with excellence.
In response to these challenges, ISA has begun to develop a strategic roadmap that will clearly define our mission, vision, and goals in 2014, and the products and services to be delivered, the partnerships to be secured, and marketplace opportunities to be explored, and more. We have already begun having discussions about the new roadmap with ISA leaders and will continue to engage members, volunteers, and staff in the ongoing conversations in the weeks and months ahead.
Priorities for 2014 and the years ahead
In this new year and beyond, ISA must look both inward and outward to secure new growth opportunities, to increase awareness of its value proposition, strengthen its brand, tap into new revenue streams, boost membership, and develop a proactive plan for engaging the next generation of leaders. To do so, ISA must be successful in three vital areas: operations, collaboration, and innovation.
We need to closely examine the operations at all levels of the Society to optimize processes and resources. Secondly, we need to seek out opportunities to collaborate, both within the Society (across geographic, technical, and operational boundaries) and with external entities (including government, academia, Automation Federation sister organizations, other professional organizations and communities, and members of the automation industry) where synergy either already exists or can be created. Strategic partnerships are key to collaboration and operational excellence.
And finally, we must innovate. We must develop innovative solutions and approaches across the organization and throughout our products and services so ISA remains relevant to the automation profession and to the communities it serves. Harnessing the right technologies and other applicable resources will be essential. By doing so, we’ll not only enhance existing products and services, but we’ll develop new products, services, and partnerships that will position us for the future.
Realizing our potential requires a paradigm shift − a laser focus on our achievable goals, metrics that track our progress at all times, the ability to act quickly, and ongoing commitment. In 2014, I look forward to working with all facets of ISA to move the Society forward in these areas and generate ongoing momentum.
A bright future for ISA
The future for ISA is extremely bright, especially since we are poised for change. We need only look around us to see our world constantly evolving. Our focus on new strategic processes will help us successfully navigate through and capitalize on these changes, and assess how we “fit” so that as the markets we serve evolve, we’re agile and able to respond quickly to take advantage of opportunities.
By now you’re probably asking, “What about me?” Every ISA member and volunteer can help ISA grow and evolve. You may say, “I am just one person. What could I possibly do to make a difference?” One of my favorite quotes is by author and historian Edward Everett Hale: “I am only one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something.”
Not only do we need your help, but you CAN help. In fact, you are already contributing by virtue of your ISA membership. In 2014, I challenge you to do even more. Seek out ways in which you can use your expertise to serve. Introduce your colleagues and company to ISA. Make them aware of what ISA offers. Get more involved in your ISA section or division. Join an ISA LinkedIn group. Reach out to your local, national, or global ISA leadership to inquire how you can help. Get involved!
Together, we will make 2014 the best year ever to be a part of ISA!
Peggie Koon, Ph.D., is vice president of audience at Chronicle Media and The Augusta Chronicle, which are part of Morris Publishing Group, LLC, a privately held media company based in Augusta, Ga. Prior to joining Morris, Peggie spent more than 25 years developing IT systems for process automation and process control in a variety of industries, including automotive, nuclear defense, aerospace, nuclear reprocessing, thermal ceramics and textiles. Peggie assumed her first ISA leadership position in 1996 as membership chair of the Management Division and has held a variety of prominent leadership roles in the Society. She earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Smith College in Northampton, Mass. and completed graduate studies in industrial and systems engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She received a doctorate in management information systems from Kennedy Western University in Cheyenne, Wyo.
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A version of this article also has been published in ISA Insights.