2020 CEO Insights: Anthony Wong

Rockwell Automation Australia

Tuesday, 14 January, 2020



2020 CEO Insights: Anthony Wong

At Rockwell Automation we see the three biggest challenges facing us to be:

  • Creating a purpose-driven work environment
  • Creating a culture of innovation
  • Closing the IT/OT security gap

Creating a purpose-driven work environment

Attracting the best talent into industrial automation has always been a challenge of perception for our industry. Even the term ‘industrial’ can have connotations of being engineering-centric, and manufacturing is seen as a conservative industry when it comes to adopting new technologies.

The reality though is that industrial automation is at the forefront of the digital transformation journey that is disrupting industry — in a race to improve productivity and safety and be a sustainable company at the same time. Having our workforce excited about this transformation while attracting new talent to help us accelerate the understanding of both sides of the OT/IT equation is the balancing act.

So how do we attract and retain talent and increase our employee engagement when industrial automation still has the stigma of being more industrial than digital, where our organisations seem to be more complex to be more agile? We are finding a good starting point that is making a difference is creating a strong value proposition for our employees.

Incorporating purpose-driven work into corporate culture is paramount. Today our employees are much more concerned about the future of our environment, sustainability and climate change, and about giving back and community, in addition to what is expected: such as being in a great place to work, with job security, a career path, training and engaging work. Hence the vision and the value of the company needs to tick all the boxes to retain and attract talent in our organisation.

Creating a culture of innovation

Digital disruption is well and truly upon us and as a result there are new business models and market access channels being created — while we see the displacement of existing products and solutions. If we look back over the last 10 years, the top global corporations have dramatically changed and the list is now dominated by tech companies that have leveraged innovation to quickly become global giants. We are all — in some form or other — at a strategic inflexion point where our future success is not guaranteed and we must decide whether we accept change and new methods or we reject change and maintain the status quo.

Assuming we accept change, then innovation becomes a core pillar of future success — but it is not easy to force onto an organisation. Acquiring technology or partnering with start-ups is a good way to accelerate innovation, but this will not necessarily create a culture of innovation within the organisation. At the grass roots level we have set out to find the next generation of innovators, builders and makers through the “You Make it Challenge” competition and through a social media campaign. At the next level we have formed a strategic partnership with FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a global, non-profit organisation that has reach among students around the world to demonstrate what a career in STEM and manufacturing can look like.

Within Rockwell Automation we have an Innovation Program that exists to accelerate innovation and professional development opportunities across the company where we focus on collaboration and open discussion of real-world problems to help catalyse creative and valuable solutions for implementation.

Closing the IT/OT security gap

With all the benefits that can be gained with the contextualisation of OT data and digital insights, new challenges have emerged around cybersecurity as organisations now become more interconnected. Half the industrial companies in a recent survey said they suffered a data breach or cyber attack in the last 12 months.

Although developing products with cybersecurity in mind is a necessity in today’s world, it does not necessarily mean that you will have a cybersecure system. Companies require a comprehensive approach to people, technology and processes for their OT infrastructure and a good starting point is a security assessment to identify priority risk areas and then build up a strategy, which may include threat detection software, strategies for patch management, virtualisation of servers and 24/7 monitoring, along with new security policies and practices.

Having more collaboration and exchange, while defining best practices, helps give guidance in this constantly evolving topic — which is why a standards-based approach can reduce the risk of being compromised. Rockwell Automation is a founding member of the ISA Global Cybersecurity Alliance that brings together different stakeholders such as end users, IT infrastructure and service providers, and automation and control system providers to proactively address the growing concerns around cyber threats.

Within Rockwell Automation, closing the IT/OT security gap to protect our customers and our employees will be a never-ending battle of proactive and reactive measures as hackers attempt to gain unauthorised access to our systems.

Anthony joined Rockwell Automation in 2019 as Regional Director for the South Pacific Region. He holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and an MBA. Prior to joining Rockwell Automation he held various roles of increasing responsibility within Schneider Electric in Australia, also working in France and the United States before returning to Australia.

Image: ©stock.adobe.com/au/bas121

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