by Helen Horner, AEM Director of Education Programs

When someone asks you to think forward, how far into the future do you venture? Three years? Maybe five? Dare I say 10 years? In actuality, forward thinking doesn’t necessarily mean being ahead of the time. It’s more about seeing the larger picture, strategic planning and going beyond conventional thought.

As a curator of “content” with AEM, there are several means for gathering topics. One of my most valued tools is a completed evaluation form. (Trust me, there is a reason we remind you to fill those out). Time and time again our members share with us they want current and practical industry information.

With that in mind, we have given our 2020 Thinking Forward series a little refresh. 

All three events this fall address how you can use new technology to grow your business. But not unattainable technology or platforms only big business can get their hands on. This is current technology the manufacturing industry can harness now to grow.

In September, the experts at TRENDHUNTER will share a customized presentation on industry trends they have uncovered such as sustainability, digital commerce and the internet of things. They will set the stage for our October sessions on chatbots, avatars and digitizing the customer experience. And will touch on topics we hope to deliver in 2021.

If you haven’t already integrated a digital commerce platform into your organization, don’t miss Oct. 6! Let’s face it Amazon has changed customer expectations on the consumer end, and those expectations are transferring over into all industries. Digital commerce goes far beyond buying a good online. It involves a full mobile infrastructure, creating personalized experiences and creating consistency across the organization. The benefits are many, including leveraging data, targeting customers, brand loyalty, not to mention saving money.  We have a three-part session featuring four presenters that will give examples of how companies have successfully integrated digital commerce. Peter Sheldon, senior director of commerce strategy at Adobe, will open by sharing his perspective on this “new normal.”

On Oct. 20 we are exploring the world of chatbots and avatars. Chatbots are yet another way to improve the customer experience. Immediate responses and 24-7 availability are the new norm. A chatbot on your company’s digital platform needs to go beyond the typical “How may I help you?” Today, the AI behind chatbots is strengthening customer connections, qualifying leads, providing efficiencies for sales teams and giving customers the satisfaction of immediate feedback. Drift is a recognized leader of chatbot software and Jared Fuller, the company’s senior director of partnerships, will be discussing some use cases which show how many departments can benefit.

Avatars take the chatbot concept further by bringing AI to life. This type of personalization is another way to engage visitors on your website and also serves as a great application for employee or customer training. The COO of Quantum Capture, Matt McPherson, will talk about virtual human applications his cutting-edge company has helped create.

What’s most exciting about all of these pieces of technology is not just only their current applications, but also their future possibilities and how one example from one industry can spark creativity and innovation for another. AEM has aimed to deliver multidisciplinary, timely topics. From sales and marketing to aftermarket support and training, there is a “golden nugget” for the entire team.

We look forward to your participation in our 2020 series, and of course, your feedback!

AEM's Thinking Forward virtual events and content explore the future of equipment manufacturing.