• By Bill Lydon
  • The Final Say

Tomorrow has not been canceled! This is a powerful thought that has been echoing in my mind during the pandemic. I heard this statement from Mark Taft, ABB Group vice president, in his opening keynote at the 2009 ABB Automation & Power World event when everyone was recovering from the 2007–2008 financial crisis. Taft emphasized, “. . . it is important for us to remember that tomorrow has not been canceled.” We each benefit by making the best of tomorrow—and every day—with a positive attitude, willingness to accept challenges, and creativity in moving forward. 

The United States Marine Corps motto echoed in my mind as well: “Adapt, Improvise, and Overcome.” In discussions and virtual meetings throughout the pandemic there are great examples of automation professionals taking on challenges created by the pandemic, overcoming obstacles, and creating innovative solutions.

Throughout the world, we have all been facing the effects of the pandemic at the same time, punctuating the interlinking of the world and our common problems.

Virtual events

There is great camaraderie in the automation community with a spirit of good friendship at industry events and conferences. People benefit from discussing problems, sharing solutions, gaining insights, and learning together. Today we are doing this with virtual meetings and conferences. I do miss face-to-face meetings with people at physical events, but in some ways virtual events have brought the world closer together. Virtual events have allowed more people to participate, because the cost and time of travel is not a barrier.


The most valuable virtual event sessions I have attended have been the ones where the audience actively participates with questions and answers. Audience members also add valuable information to the discussion, generally through a chat window. I encourage you to actively participate if you are attending these events.


At physical events most of us have found the presentations valuable and the ad hoc discussions at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and evening social events at least as valuable. Attendees share problems and solutions, and generate new ideas. Realizing the value of those interactions, I have been communicating more often with many people I would normally see at events using email, occasional phone calls, private Zoom meetings, and LinkedIn. I recommend doing this sensibly.


There is an old proverb, “necessity is the mother of invention,” and this is certainly accurate in the pandemic.

Industry has been accelerating digitalization out of necessity during the pandemic. In a virtual keynote at the 25th Annual ARC Industry Forum, Nick Clausi, vice president of engineering for ExxonMobil Research and Engineering, discussed what happened when his company was compelled to deploy more digitalization during the pandemic: They realized that, in the past, the risk of using new digital products was overestimated and the value to the organization was underestimated.

Pandemic epilogue

In a couple years what do you think your pandemic epilogue will be? What did you learn and apply that improved things?

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About The Authors

Bill Lydon is an InTech contributing editor with more than 25 years of industry experience. He regularly provides news reports, observations, and insights here and on Automation.com