Rockwell Automation is a company in transition, in an industry in transition.
Keith Nosbusch did an admirable job leading Rockwell Automation through a period of tremendous growth over the past 12 years: expanding globally, pushing into new industries, integrating acquisitions, building new business lines, and laying the foundation for The Connected Enterprise.
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Blake Moret is a solid choice for the new CEO of Rockwell Automation. Blake is a 30 year Rockwell Automation man, has clearly been groomed for the position with escalating roles and responsibilities both internally and externally, and won the job from a talented pool of former peers. I first met Blake 7 years ago in 2009 when he led the Customer Support and Maintenance business for Rockwell Automation. Even then, it was clear that Blake was a talented executive and strong leader that could grow a successful business.
By choosing Blake, the Rockwell Automation board stayed true to form and made an internal pick, which did not surprise LNS Research. Generally speaking, there are clear benefits to an internal CEO pick: cultural continuity, smoother transition, predictability, etc. However, there are also drawbacks in that it is harder to effect dramatic change or transformation if needed.
LNS has not yet spoken with Blake since the announcement, but we are excited to understand his priorities, goals, and timelines for measuring success in the new role. When we do have the opportunity to have this conversation we are hoping to hear about how Rockwell Automation will embrace Digital Transformation in enabling its vision for The Connected Enterprise.
We have written and spoken extensively on our views regarding Digital Transformation and how the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is going to break down traditional roles, responsibilities, and technology architectures within industrial companies. Rockwell Automation has also written and spoken extensively on their view of The Connected Enterprise. However, the Rockwell Automation vision for The Connected Enterprise is almost four years old and ready for its next evolution.
Blake has the opportunity to take ownership of and evolve The Connected Enterprise vision to one that embraces the future of IT-OT convergence. In fact, his ability to do this will likely be a large determinant of his success and the company’s ability to remain competitive; for better or worse the role of the Industrial Automation CEO has changed dramatically in just the past two years.
It started with Jeff Immelt and the creation of GE Digital. Jeff changed the rules of engagement and the degree to which an Industrial Automation CEO can drive and sell thought leadership for the changing role of hardware and software. Since Jeff’s pivot/coming out party in September 2015 (San Francisco Mind and Machines event) we have seen similar moves from the Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser in December 2015 (Munich Innovation Day) and the Schneider Electric CEO Jean-Pascal Tricoire in April 2016 (Paris Life is On Innovation Summit).
Although Blake will certainly be granted a grace period as the new CEO, the market is ready for Rockwell Automation to put its new stake in the ground.
At LNS we are looking forward to see what move Rockwell Automation and Blake makes, based on past performance it will surely be one that delivers customer value and helps push the whole industry forward.
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