• By Renee Bassett
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By Renee Bassett, InTech, Chief Editor

No matter your industry, your age, or the particular type of industrial automation you immerse yourself in day-to-day, I have an important question to ask: How are you preparing your professional self for the technology-driven shifts happening all around you?

The need for lifelong learning is real, and "the pace of change is accelerating at the exact same time that people's work lives are elongating," says author, speaker, and work strategist Heather McGowan. Through her think tank called Work to Learn, McGowan talks about how, in the third industrial revolution, "we learned (once) in order to work, but now in the fourth industrial revolution, we will work in order to learn (continuously)."

Now, "work tasks as we knew them in the past have become atomized, broken into job fragments that can be done anywhere around the world; automated, achievable or solvable by computerized technologies; and augmented [with] technologies that extend the human physically or cognitively," McGowan says. So, I ask you: How are you staying on top of technology-driven shifts and helping your professional self absorb the changes?

One way, of course, is with this magazine, the official publication of the International Society of Automation. I am happy to be the new chief editor of this almost-70-year-old publication, as well as a new collaborator in the development of other professional tools that ISA provides. (Former chief editor Bill Lydon remains; his column is now The Final Say.) From leadership training courses to technical certifications to automation standards and best practices, ISA provides the greater automation community with ways to identify, evaluate, and apply important new technology.

An important new way ISA is doing that has just been announced: The ISA Global Cybersecurity Alliance brings together end-user companies, control system vendors, IT and OT infrastructure providers, system integrators, and others to participate in an open, collaborative forum designed to advance industrial control system (ICS) cybersecurity awareness, readiness, and knowledge sharing.

Industrial sectors covered by the alliance include manufacturing, commercial buildings, and critical infrastructure facilities.

In this issue of InTech magazine, you can learn more about other industrial automation technology. The cover story describes how artificial intelligence applications are using the data being gathered by IIoT devices to enable better decision making. Elsewhere, learn about how acoustic monitoring systems enable predictive maintenance improvements, or how chemical plants go beyond spreadsheets to analyze data in new ways.

As contributing editor Bill Lydon says, "There have been times in history when there were radical changes in technologies and methods that transformed industries, creating winners and losers. At each stage, those that adopted appropriate new technologies and methods became winners, and the others were losers. In this environment of change, automation professionals who can sort out fact from fiction and hype from reality are important."

Finding the right tools and resources to help with that sort is important too. I'm glad you found us.

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About The Authors

Renee Bassett is chief editor for InTech magazine and Automation.com, and publications contributing editor for ISA. Bassett is an experienced writer, editor, and consultant for industrial automation, engineering, information technology, and infrastructure topics. She has a bachelor's degree in journalism and English from Indiana University, Bloomington, and is based in Nashville.