What was the Siemens Connect Event?
The Siemens Connect Event was an hour-long networking event held at the 2011 Siemens Automation Summit. Likened to "speed networking," the Connect Event was initiated as a fun and interactive way for Siemens Solution Partners and users to connect on a personal rather than business level. Attendees participated in "power" meetings which were facilitated by complimentary iPads and an application (app) built specifically for this event.
There were two main goals of the event:
1. Strengthen relationships amongst the Siemens User Community.
2. Conduct a year-long research project to determine how iPads can improve personal productivity in a factory automation environment.
Connect Event Success Story
DMC, a Chicago-based Siemens Solution Partner, helped conceive and develop the unique new networking event. "Some networking events can feel uncomfortable or impersonal," said DMC President, Frank Riordan. "We wanted to introduce an easy way for attendees to meet the right people based on personal connections rather than just business as usual."
The Connect Event consisted of twelve 5-minute meetings between 8 Siemens Solution Partners and 71 Siemens users over the course of an hour on June 28, 2011. In order to organize the event schedule, DMC developed the infrastructure application and database background. The greatest challenge was assigning and optimizing the schedule which was based on interest-oriented preferences like technology and industry as well as geographic distance, gathered from an online registration form. Using this data, DMC staged a virtual draft to determine 328 meetings, matching Solution Partners and users who were most highly ranked based on their criteria score.
Sponsored by Siemens Solution Partners, all attendees received an iPad for use during the event. Their interaction with the iPads will be the subject of an ongoing yearlong research project to gauge how tablet computer technology is utilized in the industrial automation world.
Prism Systems, a Siemens Solution Partner based out of Mobile, AL enhanced the interactive element of the event by developing a Connect Event iPad app. The app enabled attendees to display their meeting schedule, location, and the background information of each meeting partner during the event.
To guide conversation, an array of nine general social categories, including sports, school, children, and hobbies prompted conversations centered on personal connections.
When a common connection was made during the conversation, a meeting participant would touch the grey icon on their iPad to highlight it in yellow on both their display and their meeting partner's display. As both participants selected the icon, the data was registered and transmitted to a database using a Siemens SIMATIC NET industrial communication wireless Ethernet network. Attendees could then view the results in real time as they were graphically displayed as a backdrop in the meeting room.
*Connect Event Network Topography
The inaugural Connect Event was met with great feedback. One Siemens user said, "I met more people in one hour than I had at the last three Siemens summits." Almost 1000 connections were made between attendees, with "children" being the most connected category. "It's important to find common ground outside work," said Riordan. "It builds a foundation and comfort level that extends the user community and helps us later share technical solutions."
While the 2011 Siemens Automation Summit is over, the implications of the Connect Event are only just being cultivated. The event organizers are interested in how attendees will use their iPads and the new technology following the event. Over the next year a series of webinars, forums, surveys, and a Siemens User Community Forum will gather feedback on how members are sharing best practices and using or creating custom applications. The results of this year-long research project will be presented at the 2012 Automation Summit where another Connect Event is hoped to take place. Enhancements for next year's Connect Event may include creating an app that is compatible with smart devices ranging from a tablet, Android, or Windows phone. While each meeting may have only lasted minutes, the hope is that the connections shared continue to enhance the Siemens user community well into the future.
*Connections were displayed to attendess in real time