By Frank Tobe, Editor and Publisher, The Robot Report
I've read a wide range of reports and single-topic reviews about the presentations and about some of the exhibitors at last November's RoboBusiness Leadership Summit held in Pittsburgh. I didn't feel that any of those reports truly captured what I saw and thought. I was there for the whole thing. So what did I see and what do I think? What stuck in my mind?
First, I'm appreciative for having been able to attend RoboBusiness. The get-together of 400 souls with a common interest in the business of robotics was certainly a good place to meet people, many of whom I've only corresponded with. Many came up to me after seeing my name tag and were very glowing in their comments about my two websites (The Robot Report and it's blog Everything-Robotic). That was fun, somewhat embarrassing, yet nice to hear.
But back to RoboBusiness -- the depth of content left something to be desired. As did the constant schedule of short-duration presentations and events -- they left no time to mingle, chat privately, have chance encounters -- without missing something (in case there was something to miss), and have dinner(s).
|Dan Kara, CEO Electra Studios|
|Seegrid's vision-guided pallet truck|
RoboBusiness 2012 seemed somewhat like that warehouse tour and also like the political debates of the 2012 election cycle (without the spirited rhetoric): a bit shallow with important topics either glossed over or missed entirely.
|Mobi Mobil Robot|
by Bossa Nova Robotics
|Aldo Zini, CEO, Aethon|
and John Krolicki, VP, University
of Pittsburgh Medical Center
|Aethon's line of TUG mobile robots|
Perhaps my disappointment at RoboBusiness was that Krolicki's and Zini's presentations, and the whole afternoon spent on Quality of Life Robotics, were the exceptions and not the norm for the conference.
Which type of sessions do robotic business leaders want to attend? It seems to me they weren't asked that question; rather, the sponsors dictated the agenda. Which brings up the question whether RoboBusiness is there to sell exhibition space and newsletter subscriptions or inform; to have brief presentations about robotic products or about real-world needs that can be solved with robotics; to advertise sizzle and magic or stick to the title of the conference: Leadership Summit. The majority of the sessions left me wondering. The financial crisis is over and EH Publishing, the parent company and sponsor of RoboBusiness, is expanding their events and subscription magazine, a weekly online report costing $1,000 per year. The sponsors, including EH Publishing, appeared to be the answer. RoboBusiness was too much of a sales forum and not enough of a Leadership Summit.