Researching for insight

A few months ago, Control Engineering was contacted by Morgan Stanley about partnering on an automation industry research project. Morgan Stanley was in the process of determining whether or not to revive its investment advisory service on this sector and needed data to help determine the current and future viability of automation industry investment.

12/01/2009


A few months ago, Control Engineering was contacted by Morgan Stanley about partnering on an automation industry research project. Morgan Stanley was in the process of determining whether or not to revive its investment advisory service on this sector and needed data to help determine the current and future viability of automation industry investment.

For Control Engineering , this seemed like a great opportunity not only to collaborate with a top-notch research partner and learn more about our industry, but also to provide some guidance to our audience on the state of the industry.

One of the first questions we asked of Morgan Stanley was why they had selected us as a partner. According to Scott Babka, executive director with Morgan Stanley, “We asked Control Engineering to partner with us in our global automation survey given their wide reach of subscribers with buy/specify authority across geographies and end-markets, including individuals within the major automation manufacturers as well as their key customers.”

The survey revealed a great deal about the current state of the industry. Most importantly, it pointed to an industry that, despite the rigors of 2009, still has strong legs supporting it. Morgan Stanley’s final analysis states: “While highly cyclical, automation is a good business to invest in over the long term, as buyers are reluctant to switch suppliers, cite pricing at eighth in importance out of 13 factors that go into purchase decisions, and don’t appear overly interested in working with new entrants.”

You can see more results from the survey in this issue (p. 18) and online at tinyurl.com/ce-msresearch .

Ultimately, the potential importance of such research after a year like we’ve just had is like finding the compass in your backpack after making a few wrong turns in the wilderness. It doesn’t immediately deliver you back to civilization, but it does point you in the right direction and provide guidance that you’re progressing, and not moving in circles.

That’s why Control Engineering is planning 10 research projects in 2010. Although the economy is improving, no one would say we’re out of the woods at this point. Hopefully, the results of these surveys will help keep us all on the right track.

I'd like to take this opportunity now to say “thank you” in advance for taking the time to respond. Not only are you helping us editorially, you’ll be aiding other engineers with your insights.

david.greenfield@reedbusiness.com





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