Mr. Alex West with Omdia talks about Edge Computing and the Importance to Industry

In this week's Industrial Talk Podcast and in conjunction with The Industrial IoT World, we're talking to Alex West, Senior Principal Analyst at Omdia about “What is ‘Edge Computing' and Why is it Important for Today's Industry?”.  Get the answers to your “Edge Computing” questions along with Alex's unique insight on the “How” on this Industrial Talk interview!

Also…..  Take ownership of the new normal at Industrial IoT World Virtual 2020 to ensure you don't get left behind.  Join industry-wide discussions addressing core IIoT challenges from monetizing and securing data to updating legacy infrastructure and outdated business models.  This year's speakers include leaders from Boeing, Johnson & Johnson, Michelin, ExxonMobil, Nestle and more sharing their insights on Industry 4.0, Privacy & Security, IT/OT Integration, Edge Computing and Protective Maintenance/AI.  Find out more about this wonderful event by clicking here:  START YOUR IIoT JOURNEY HERE!

You can find out more about Alex and the wonderful team at Omdia by the links below. Finally, get your exclusive free access to the Industrial Academy and a series on “Why You Need To Podcast” for Greater Success in 2020. All links designed for keeping you current in this rapidly changing Industrial Market. Learn! Grow! Enjoy!

ALEX'S CONTACT INFORMATION:

Personal LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexdwest/

Company LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/omdia/

Company Website: https://omdia.tech.informa.com/

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PODCAST TRANSCRIPT:

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

cloud, industry, edge, industrial, Omdia, iot, IIoT, data, world, industrial iot, technology, innovation, cost, insights, understand, point, conversation, device, companies, big

00:04

Welcome to the industrial talk podcast with Scott MacKenzie. Scott is a passionate industry professional dedicated to transferring cutting edge industry focused innovations and trends while highlighting the men and women who keep the world moving. So put on your hard hat, grab your work boots, and let's go. Alright, welcome you, industry professionals, you industry heroes. Thank you very much for joining the industrial talk podcast, as you know, because you've been listening to the industrial talk podcast, this platform, this industrial talk path platform is a celebration of you the industrial professionals though, the ones that get it done right you get it done. You are bold, you are brave. You dare greatly. you innovate. You give all the time. You have big, huge hearts. That's why we celebrate you on the industrial talk podcast. Alright.

00:55

in the hot seat, we've got a gentleman by the name of Alex West, he's with boom dia. Now, you spell that you're saying it sounds good. I want to know a little bit more about Oh,

01:05

it's Oh, M. Di a that's OM di. D is the company and we're gonna be talking about edge. Let's get cracking.

01:15

Yeah.

01:17

So you know, you got this Industry4.0 journey. We've always talked about it digital transformation, whatever it might be 5g, you name it, it's under that whole Industry4.0, and some people are talking industry 5.0 Wow.

01:33

In one of the elements that I believe had needed a greater clarity, right, need a greater clarity? Was this whole? What is edge? What does that mean in this whole industry 4.0, this IoT IoT cloud world that we live in, right? And Alex with Omdia does a lot of research into that, and brings a lot of insights into this particular interview. But before we get Crackin, I want to just sort of point out get your it's happening now. Right? It is this today. So it started December 1, and it ends tomorrow. And it is the adapt and when sees IoT. Now for lasting digital transformation. That's a mouthful. But it's got a lot of stuff. And that's brought to you by those wonderful people at industrial now. spell it out industrial IoT world. And it's going on now. And you still have time. And I think the price is well gap free. Yeah. So jump on, because you're about collaborating. You're about innovating, you're about educating. And I understand, I understand, there's just a lot of virtual events that are popping your way. This was one of the good ones, too. I mean, they're all good. They have, they all have the premise of really trying to, you know, try to elevate the community and the, the information that's out there. And I'm telling you right now, especially today, because we've got to survive, we've got to rebuild, and we've got to prosper. And we've got to have those particular strategies out there to be able to make that happen. That makes sense. Your message, boop, boop, boop, needs to get out there. You need to be able to communicate that message. But from the perspective of, of the human element, right?

03:19

I'm all about this on the podcast, I as you know, are is a big, and I'm a big fan of industry, and big fan of you, and a big fan of what what's taking place within a street industry around the world. Makes sense. And that's why this platform is here. And I think this platform is needed more than ever. And I just somebody said, Scott, again, why are you doing this? I just want to help. So go out to industrial talk.com. Click on there. Let's have a conversation, you'll talk to me. And we'll have a conversation about what are your objectives? What are your goals? What do you want to try to accomplish in 2021? And then let's try to figure out how we get that message out. No pain, no friction, easy peasy. I mean, you know, low water is nice and warm and toasty. And, and I'm not going to sit there and bust your chops by any stretch of the imagination, but

04:13

the world and I hate to do this to you, but the world needs you. Right. So we need to figure out solutions that help you prosper in the future. Give me a call. Industrial talk.com reach out big time. All right, let's get going. All right, Alex West doc an edge. He's got a nice, tidy little stat card out there on LinkedIn. And

04:38

if you if you chose sort of, you just got to reach out to him. Good guy. Really nice. You're not gonna be disappointed when you talk to this chap. Because he, he really truly has a desire to help you and help anybody that comes. So reach out to him. And you're going to say, okay, Alex West, there's probably a gazillion out there on LinkedIn. Just put a little comment in there. Boom.

05:00

Do om d A is the company. You'll see them? You no problem. All right, let's get cracking with the interview. edges on the topic. Alex is in the hot seat. Enjoy the interview. Alex, welcome to the industrial talk podcast. I love where you live. I love that. Do you live in bath? Do you? I don't Unfortunately, no, I live in Northampton, but I had four years. Four years in Bath at university. So beautiful city beautiful. And I love the Roman baths. It Yeah, it's sort of you got the right name for the town and you went to the University. Okay, I'm sorry for messing that up. You should be living in Bath. Probably not enough. Soon enough business for you up over there. Or is it too expensive? Yeah, boss. pretty expensive. Yeah. Yeah, it is. It's it's pretty, pretty nice place. All right. For the listeners out there. Alex, give us a little background on who you are. And where you come from what what? You know, what gives you the street cred? My friend. Sounds good. Yeah. So I've been in the market intelligence industry for about 20 years around industrial automation machinery, just watching how that markets develop. So not much changing for the last 15 years. And then bam, we hit the last five years industry 4.0 comes out industrial IoT. And now there's a lot of hype, a lot of noise, a lot of change a lot of opportunities. So, yeah, my background is really researching from the, if you like the OT space up into IoT, as opposed to the IoT space down. So for the listeners, OT stands for what? operational technology, very good, and you're absolutely right. I it was weird. I don't know what switch happened out there. But like you said, for 15 years, everything was just cruising along. Then somebody said, hey, it's industry 4.0 time. Let's accelerate this innovation at lightning speed. And you know what, I've had conversations with people talking about industry, 5.0.

06:54

It's like, Yeah, but what the hell, let's get to four First, there's a lot of competitors, a lot of companies still working towards free.

07:03

It's so true. And I was at an event a couple of events last year, and that's when we could travel, that's when I didn't have my facemask thing. That's when we could really socialize anyway. And, and

07:16

the speed was like, I'm already at version 10. And, and I said, but I'm looking at just version one Ay Ay, ay, humanly impossible for me to evaluate. And that's where you guys come in, you know, your organization. And I'm going to get this right. A media person use that as a, you know, say, you know, Martin, I guess song? Um, yeah, anyway, you guys look into that. You guys, definitely research and you're pretty much at the cutting edge. Yeah, and trying to help companies understand where reality is, you know, a lot of people think of IoT from the consumer space. And hey, it's going to happen now. It's moving really quickly. And, and then you get into the industrial section, things take a little bit more time to really coming to reality. But I tell you, the pandemic, so And granted, I understand the pain points with the pandemic. We all do we understand. But I think the positive side of this particular weird state we're in is that I think the conversations are more targeted, I think the strategies are more effective. And the people are having the right conversations on where to go, specifically with innovation, and how to keep or create a more resilient business. And that's an innovation type of solution. But I think that's a positive. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, those, those companies that kick the can down the road, now it's put it into focus. In some cases, you've had to move your your workers out of certain places, you're looking at remote monitoring, you're looking at cybersecurity policies and things. So these are some of the things that are barriers already. And now they're really been flipped focus where in some cases survival, you know, we can't operate full, full, full occupancy of the factory. So how do we make things work? Yeah, and I think that your services provided by Omdia is even more necessary because

09:10

I've had 1000 I say podcasts and of which a lot of them were, were industry 4.0, IoT IoT edge cloud. Five g now apparently, is just a real buzzword out there, right? I don't know if I had my business hat on I don't know, who to trust, who to listen to where to go. And that's why your you know, what you guys do at Omdia is so important. Yeah, we tried to play a bit of a middle ground between the marketing department from the vendors and the end users or integrating the technology. What's that reality for, for where it can work? It is because many of the marketing people say, you deploy this device, your world is going to be, you know, pink elephants and lollipops for the rest of your life. You're perfect.

10:00

And that's not the case. Not a lot of moving parts with that particular solution, but it's good. And I think it's a good conversation to have. Now let's talk.

10:10

One of the things that a part of industry for Dido, of course, is that, okay, you got IoT IoT, you got AI, got ml, you got machine learning, by the way, you got the cloud, you got all these components that have to sort of marry together. One of the things that when I was deploying an IoT long ago, there wasn't even called IoT, it was long ago, was the ability to be able to sort of capture the data. But my challenge was, it was a tsunami of data. And in that data, I couldn't I couldn't figure out anything. It's like, is that important? I don't know. Because I can't see it. Can we talk a little bit about edge computing? Yeah, sure. And maybe to your point, I think that's that's a challenge that a lot of companies still having. We've moved to this a pervasive sensing, we're going to put sensors everywhere, you collect all this information flow, okay. Now, what how do we make sure it's got context? So it can be analyzing, you know, data for data's sake, doesn't do anything, it just costs in storage? It's how do you transform that into something that's actionable that you can make decisions on? It is, and I mean,

11:19

it's so funny when you when you start looking at these, this innovation, this technology, and the technologist sits there and just grabs data? And I mean, there's no real it's just grabbing data

11:31

is, and it's up to people like you and others to be able to say, Oh, yeah, I see it. But how do I, how do I parse that out to make tactical decisions, real gems within that in an efficient way where I'm not, you know, two weeks behind? And it's like, Ah, that doesn't work, I need real time insights into the operational health of my asset. Now, how does how does edge computing do that? How does that help do that?

11:57

So I mean, edge computing helps. Well, you know, when we first start off with industry, 4.0, industrial IoT, a lot of the platforms and solutions that were being released, they were all cloud based. So a lot of the early products, everything was focused on the cloud. Still, in most cases, that's that's still the majority of the case of things cloud focused. Now, certainly not say cloud doesn't have its benefits. But cloud isn't the all inclusive thing. You know, really, you need the applications just not suitable for cloud. And when you start thinking of low latency requirements,

12:31

I remember hearing about a company that decided to go all in on the cancer, pretty large automotive vendor, right? Everything's going into the cloud, they send all their data to the cloud, and the first month, they got a multi multi million dollar phone bill. So

12:47

you just can't use Cloud for everything. That's really a balance between edge and cloud where where edge certainly provides some pretty important advantages. Can you define? What is edge? What are we doing? structurally? What is that? Yeah, so that's a great, great question, because everybody's got a different definition at the moment.

13:07

You can look at edge basically as everything from a local data center.

13:13

But that's increasingly moving down closer and closer to the edge. So you've got what we call the far edge. And that's where you're really looking at a lot lower latency, you might have round trip times of a signal of sort of somewhere between five around five milliseconds, for example, that's when you're getting really low latency. And that can be on a device that might be on a controller might be industrial PC on a gateway, but somewhere that's a lot close to the actual asset. Why is that important?

13:41

Yeah. So again, one of the points goes back to latency. And there are going to be applications where it's not important, if you think of a lot of the apps that have been pre promoted at the moment, predictive maintenance, for example, if someone's telling you, your motors gonna fail in two months, he don't really don't need low latency. But another element might be selling a beverage plant, we've got really high throughput and you're doing quality inspection. You don't necessarily have time for a significant delay there. Now, you need real time, real time analytics and real time decision making less something you would only get locally at the edge.

14:20

Yeah.

14:21

Because beforehand, when, you know, somebody was sitting there going, Hey, this cloud is great. We're hammered in, you pointed out big old bill, what can we do to sort of sort of put a little little computing capability before it goes into the cloud and then send to the cloud?

14:40

information that is important. Yeah. Right. Is that that sort of engine in general? Yes, it's the optimal approach, in general is this hybrid approach where you might train a model on the cloud. This last way you're using the complex algorithms? Yeah. And then locally, it's in third. So I heard an example of a toy manufacturer

15:00

where they've got numerous different stations on each station, there's

15:05

quality tracking, but for different types of devices, now you running on different types of toys are you running machine learning at the edge, or sorry, on the cloud each time for each device, that's a lot of data sending up. But if you're running it locally at the edge that might only be able to cope with one product or one toy. So what about if you train the models up in the cloud, and then you can deploy them at the different workstations for, for inference, and they're they're inferring you don't have that huge cost. But you've got that real time. Can you gotta take the cloud tech, not cloud, I mean, edge technology. And because it's just you've got a device, it's sitting on that motor, whatever, I don't care what it is the device. And I always try to paint that picture device on a motor, that device on the motor center to sort of an edge solution. And and it's, it's spitting out data day to day to data, can you have that edge solution? Begin to say, No, no, no, no, yes. No, no, no, yes. And be able to limit the amount of data and that is sent to the cloud. Yeah, so that's a huge element of the edge is that that pre processing, so only pulling out the data, that's those anomalies that are going to be used for the analytics, like you say this, I think IBM estimate the average factory generates a terabyte of data a day. So you don't need all of that going up to the cloud, your atmc are gonna come calling. But.

16:33

But yeah, understanding what what are the signatures that may infer a product's about to fail, for example, something's going on. Now you send that data up to the cloud,

16:43

that that manages your costs? Are you getting the right amount of data?

16:47

What about? I mean, it makes sense from a cost perspective, right? You pointed out that if I don't have some sort of an intermediary type of step, you're not you're not talking, you know, wasting time, you're just having a step that allows sort of a pre-processing of the data, then sends it to the right data to the cloud for that advanced analytical cape evaluation.

17:15

Cost of something like that. Do you have some sort of? I mean, I'm sure. But in general, I would imagine it's, it's not too bad.

17:24

of sending out to the cloud, the edge,

17:27

like costs, you know, it's like, yeah, you know, the, you know, the story, Alex is like, yeah, pre pandemic, man, I've got my strategy, I'm merrily going about my business. Now we're in, we're in the mode of whatever the next normal, new normal, this normal, whatever it is, and now all of a sudden, I've got to start to decipher or determine how do I take that digital journey? Right. And, and,

17:52

you know, it's, it's important to always factor in costs. And I, you know, it's not simply device cloud, Don, it there's, there's more to it. And I and it's got to have that cost component. So is the edge type of solution.

18:10

cost effective?

18:12

Yeah, so certainly is it but it depends. Also, when we're talking about issue of cloud versus edge for cost, you can talk about upfront cost. And you can also talk about sort of lifetime clock cost. So, you know, upfront, you may be investing in servers and data centers or higher cost automation products. But then on the time, the the operational investment, you don't have it as much of an OPEX cost. The flip side is if you go to the cloud, you don't have that big up front to the same. But you can scale up and down as well. So you might scale up, do certain analytics, and Okay, you're good. Done, what you need to do. And you scale right down again, now, there, you're managing your costs over the lifetime site. Each of them has a benefit. It's difficult to say one is better than the other. It depends on the applications. And it depends on your long term plan and how that's going to evolve. Yeah, you're gonna have to have that conversation. And so that sort of leads to the next. Next question, right? Is

19:12

it what are the roadblocks I mean, I see as a business, boom, I've got it, I need to, if I'm going to maintain or gain some competitive advantage, I'm going to have to have greater insights into data. I'm going to have to have greater insights into the the health of my assets so I can make quicker decisions, better decisions, save money, all of that good stuff that comes with this innovative type approach.

19:40

But there are roadblocks. Yeah, that's a, sorry. I mean, following on from the point you were just making where we were talking about cloud versus edge, that also comes to an issue of skill sets. You know, if you want to have your own local data center, if you've got the people that are able to set that up, run it, maintain it. So

20:00

So people is a huge challenge, both in terms of Have you got the skill sets? internally? You know, have you got the people that are able to start working with data data scientists, you know, if you want to tell your kids what to study at university data science, cybersecurity, those are the ones that again, the big bucks, because there's just so much demand. So there's there's that issue around skill sets, but also on the same side of the people issue.

20:24

There's almost, in some cases, a generational shift, where there's some people that are so resistant to the use of technology, you know, they're sort of maintenance engineer that puts a screwdriver to the motor listens and says, Yeah, I could recognize that. That's true. There's I've done it for 25 years. And it's always helped me out. Right, yeah, no data to back it up. But it's just always helped them out.

20:46

That's my gut instinct. I know what's going on. So can overcoming that both from the skill sets, but then also that change management? How do you get people working with this technology is a huge challenge. You've got to get people to trust it, get them comfortable with it. But also understand that this isn't going to get you fired in six months when we can reduce the maintenance team from 12 people down to six. So all of those things tie in? That's a good point, too. Yeah, there's that human element. And it's like, if I cooperate, and we become more efficient, and I'm not having to why do I have, you know, flying on my white horse to save the day? Because we're more

21:23

proactive as opposed to reactive, I'm going to lose my job. That's a good point. That's a big concern. I think that sometimes that concern is out why people worry about, hey, robots and AI are going to take all our jobs, the manufacturing industries, having big troubles around recruiting enough skills at the moment, so

21:42

Oh, and then manufacturing sector, we see a real, we call it the silver tsunami, the tsunami, I've heard of it. Yeah, you're absolutely right. Yeah. Yeah, it's an interesting time. And I think that,

21:55

and I don't have the answers, I don't have it balanced. I don't. Because the speed at which technology, technology is being deployed in manufacturing in industry as a whole.

22:07

We requires a demand for professionals that understand how to do that. Right. And, and, and it is a young person's game, like the older ones, but he like, like me, I'm not pointing my finger at anybody. You know, it's it's more of a younger, younger crowd that can really begin to embrace this innovation. Right. And I think but, and so that gets around messaging. I mean, I believe, personally,

22:35

that it's a great profession to get into not just data analytics, but if you start to really start wrapping around this whole IoT type thing, I think it's a great profession and understand it. Yeah, I think it is. Yeah. But I think also, you can discount the OT side, the operational skills. So we think of, yeah, this is a generational side. And you need to bring in all the young guys that are, you know, going to program in Python instead of ladder logic, for example, that that sort of mindset that you've got a lot of tacit knowledge that engineer down the, down the hallway that you can go and speak to and get some insight on a particular problem that when that goes, you know, ai doesn't just solve that as well. So it is you've got to really marry the two, you've got to have that expertise with the technology. Yeah, the technology's not going to change out that pump, and the pump and the pump will eventually not cooperate and fail. Even though you're doing your maintenance, you're doing everything that you're supposed to do. You're doing it at the right time. Eventually, just like I'm just tired, I'm done. So you're gonna have to have somebody, you know, with a wrench, get in there, replace it and do it right now. There's a lot of skill in in putting that pump back in correctly pulling it out putting it back in. So yeah, don't minimize that ot component. Yeah, I'm saying that's equally essential. Yeah. And, and I like the fact that you said, Hey, gotta marry it up, because we're heading down this technology world. But it still doesn't minimize the necessity to have the real traditional type of gotta pull it out, got to build it got to do what we need to do got to design it got to engineer he got to do everything we can. There's all that other components that's associated with it. We're not that that can't go away.

24:17

Because it's not. Did you did you unplug yourself again? You know,

24:23

I did. So I think we're good now. Yeah, I think we are.

24:28

Yeah, I think just going back to your point, though, I have to say, you know, the law of physics doesn't change. The Still, we talk all about the cyber world. There's still a physical world where you still need that expert is absolutely true. And I and for me, being who I am, how do you, I mean, elevate that conversation to begin to,

24:48

you know, you got your silver tsunami, and how do you backfill that with the right people with the white right talent with the right insights and all of that stuff, and marrying the two technology ride innovation

25:00

here and the physical component associate. That's a challenge. That's hard. Yeah. Yeah. And you compete to a lot of different industries as well. Industrial isn't the sexiest of industries, you've got finance, you've got healthcare and various so I never thought of that. That's That's true. That's, I,

25:19

I'm glad you're in, in what you're doing.

25:22

Because you get to look at that. I just sit there and go, Wow, let me go tell my wife about the challenges of manufacturing. She doesn't want to hear about it.

25:30

You know, what I hear about All right, go clean those dishes. Okay.

25:37

All right, we're gonna have to wrap it up, my friend. Alex, are you active out there on? I'm on LinkedIn. You guys have an event coming up? We have this IoT industrial IoT world. It's December first through the third. What's that all about? That's right. So that's really focusing again, on the industrial specific side of IoT. So we've got a number of panels, a number of presentation within actually an interesting one looking at. And this ties into the subject, the world of IoT in purgatory, and everybody's stuck in this proof of concept, purgatory. And how do you move beyond that to successful deployment? And what are what are the the keys to making that work? So

26:20

it's true, it's true, but I think it's the fact that I don't know how I get it. Now I'm looking at myself, but it would be hard for me to take the next step and say, I get it, I see the value. I understand it. But now you're asking me to spend some money. You're asking me to really commit myself. And I'm not there yet. And I like that purgatory. That's perfect. I like that a lot. Again, a listeners you got to get

26:51

this is happening. I'll tell you what listeners I'm going to have this out on of course, I'm going to have it out on industrial talk.com I'm going to have that list or the link to industrial IoT world. That's December 1. First fact that that through the third, and it's 100% virtual Go figure.

27:10

Surprise. Anyway, you're gonna have that link, I think you're gonna really enjoy this. I think if you enjoyed the conversation we had with Alex, you will not be disappointed. You got to reach out to him to Alex West, you're saying yourself, Scott. There are a ton of Alex West probably are out there on LinkedIn. But nobody has good looking as this guy, just comma his name, put in om D, that's o m. Di a. And I guarantee you you're gonna find him. That's easy peasy. So don't don't in fact, what I'll have out an industrial talk comm I'll have his link right to the, his LinkedIn account. So if there's no excuse to reach out, then how's that they're out. Great. Thank you, Scott, you're absolutely been a great guest. I really enjoyed this conversation. There's a lot of things women out there. Also listeners, I highly recommend that you go to industrial IoT world I want to is that the is that the the URL anyway, reach out, gotta find out more because you got to do your research. And you, you got to trust companies like Omdia, that ob

28:15

o dia. I'm trying and to be able to give you some insights into where to go because you don't want to be in purgatory. You got to take action. There. Thank you very much there. Alex, you have a wonderful weekend, my friend and listeners again, I'm going to wrap it up on the other side. Do not go away. We will be right back. You're listening to the industrial talk Podcast Network.

28:44

Alright, again, thank you very much for joining the industrial talk podcast. You know, I truly, and truly appreciate it from the bottom of my heart because you are a hero. And boy, do I respect exactly what do you guys do? industry and the heroes of industry? industry here. I don't care how you say it. You guys are wonderful. And that's why this podcast was here, the industrial talk podcast and all the other wonderful organizations out there that are really truly trying to promote industry. Thank you. Thank you for what you do. Alex West. You got to do it. You got to reach out. There's a lot of things happening with this industry for Dido and Alex with obeah

29:22

is available for you do not and I mean, do not hesitate contacting that Gen. He's a great guy. All right. I want you to be bold. You got to be bold, be brave, especially dare greatly. Absolutely a must. But I challenge you again to find individuals that are bold, brave and daring greatly.

29:43

The prospects are great out there. So find them, connect with them. Connect with me. Talk to you later, we will have another great interview.

About the author, Scott

I am Scott MacKenzie, husband, father, and passionate industry educator. From humble beginnings as a lathing contractor and certified journeyman/lineman to an Undergraduate and Master’s Degree in Business Administration, I have applied every aspect of my education and training to lead and influence. I believe in serving and adding value wherever I am called.

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