Mike Pantaleano, business development manager for Rockwell Automation, asked at the beginning of his presentation, "Who will implement all of these new digital technologies in manufacturing?" The Information Engineer will.
Citing examples from the RSTechED keynote presentation from CTO Sujeet Chand along with the book "Digital Disruption: Unleashing the Next Wave of Innovation," by James McQuivey, Pantaleano looked at the rapid changes coming with mobility, virtualization, security. Someone must be tasked with implementing all of these technologies.
His answer is the Information Engineer--a person who combines electrical engineering and information technology knowledge and experience. The person filling this role needs to have several key traits. Collaboration ability is first. This is the ability to focus on customers both inside and outside the organization discovering their needs for data and how they use the system. The person must be adaptive bringing the right technology solution to the problem, understanding that customers don't always ask the right question and so adapting ideas and technologies to what the real needs are. Finally, an innovative approach is crucial. Sometimes this is best started with small, stealth innovations and then growing.
Such people exist now. Pantaleano profiled three existing IEs and the work they've done merging IT and controls. These were Wade Burns with Consol, Justin Molenda, Nestle Marysville, Ohio, and Curt Hastings, Ball Corp. A common thread across all their work was building on past successes. Hastings added when searching for new candidates, he is looking for someone with an analytical background, who understands business, is not intimidated by technology, and a customer service orientation.