Sizing up Rockwell Automation’s big acquisition
Rockwell Automation’s acquisition of Maverick Technologies in October will combine one of the world’s largest process controls company with one of the world’s largest system integrators (#4 on the 2016 SI Giants list). The acquisition gives Milwaukee-based Rockwell Automation a stronger foothold in the chemical, food and beverage, and oil and gas industries while hoping to expand its Connect Enterprise adoption. Retaining its base in Columbia, Ill., Maverick officials announced it would remain a platform-independent company, but questions arose in the industry about just how that independence might work for both Rockwell’s business plans and Maverick’s customer base.
CFE Media discussed these issues and the general shape of the system integrations industry with Lee Tschanz, vice president of North America sales, services, and solutions for Rockwell Automation:
CFE Media: First of all, congratulations on this acquisition. Talk a little about the process that brought Rockwell Automation and Maverick Technologies together.
Lee Tschanz: Thank you. We know this will help our process customers realize greater productivity and improve global competitiveness. We are very excited about how this acquisition strengthens our expertise in key process and batch applications. It brings Maverick’s domain expertise together with our global industry leadership; that’s a powerful combination.
At Rockwell Automation, we’ve seen strong growth with our process business through our system integrators. We’ve also been successful competing against traditional DCS [distributed control system] vendors when the customer wanted a full vendor-provided solution. Maverick’s experience and domain expertise in the DCS space provides a perfect complement to Rockwell Automation and provides an opportunity to become more competitive against other traditional DCS vendors.
CFE Media: What are the near-term challenges of integrating Maverick into Rockwell Automation? What are the first things customers should expect?
Tschanz: At this time, customers should not expect any changes. They will continue to receive the same high level of service from both Rockwell Automation and from Maverick, whoever they are working with today.
We have made a strategic decision to integrate Maverick into Rockwell Automation over a longer time period, focusing on our customer’s needs in the near term. Together, we will aggressively pursue larger DCS opportunities from customers looking for vendor-provided solutions.
CFE Media: As we look longer term, where is the integration industry headed in general? How does this acquisition position Rockwell Automation for that future?
Tschanz: The Rockwell Automation strategy in the process market remains the same. It is, and will continue to be, two-pronged and heavily reliant upon our channel and our partners. One prong is focused on continuous process applications where we compete with other large automation vendors to deliver solutions directly to customers, which is where we can most leverage the Maverick acquisition.
The other is focused on batch-hybrid applications with solutions primarily delivered through system integrators in our PartnerNetwork program. We currently have over 4,000 integrators in our program globally, and we expect our PartnerNetwork program to continue to be a differentiator in the market for us. Overall, this acquisition will only strengthen our position in the process market space.
CFE Media: Rockwell Automation has the largest U.S. partner network among system integrators. How will the acquisition of Maverick impact that partner network relationship?
Tschanz: We expect no change to our PartnerNetwork strategy. We are committed to our partner-delivered strategy because of the high-value approach in a significant amount of the market. There are substantial opportunities for both manufacturer-delivered solutions and partner-delivered solutions in the process market.
Solution partners and systems integrators’ long-term relationships with end users in North America continue to deliver great value to Rockwell Automation and the balance of our PartnerNetwork. We will continue to collaborate with our system integrators to grow our business together, and we do not anticipate any changes to existing relationships with our partners.
CFE Media: Maverick’s existing technologies and client base filled a niche in the Rockwell Automation product and technology area. Can we expect similar acquisitions in the future?
Tschanz: As you said, Maverick filled a void in our growth strategy, and the acquisition was targeted to the process market and our customers in this space. It is not our strategy to simply acquire various system integrators. As our track record of recent acquisitions such as MagneMotion, ACP and now, Maverick demonstrates, they’re to fill a specific, targeted, strategic need.
CFE Media: Rockwell Automation has been among the more aggressive technology companies around the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). What are your customers telling you about IIoT and their needs, and how will system integrators help deliver those solutions to manufacturers?
Tschanz: We hear from customers that they see how our Connected Enterprise strategy helps fulfill their IIoT needs and increase global competitiveness. This is particularly important to process customers whose uptime and continuous performance are critical. Our technologies, services, and solutions are at the heart of that strategy.
Based on the fact that over 4,000 system integrators globally have helped us install some of those technologies, it’s imperative that we collaborate with our system integrators to help our mutual customers realize their IIoT goals.
See related stories about Rockwell Automation and Maverick Technologies linked below.