Bhattacharya Reflects on Two Years at Invensys Operations Management

Sudipta Bhattacharya is two years into his term as chief executive officer of Invensys Operation Management, the Plano, Texas-based process systems and software supplier (http://iom.invensys.com).

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Bhattacharya had just assumed leadership of Invensys’ Wonderware unit when corporate management of Invensys plc in London suddenly removed Invensys Process Systems’ CEO Paulett Eberhard.

A subsequent reorganization brought Wonderware and Eurotherm together with IPS (itself a combination of Invensys properties Avantis, Foxboro, SimSci-Esscor and Triconex) with Bhattacharya appointed to head the newly formed Invensys Operations Management. To say he had a challenge would be an understatement.

Bhattacharya talked with Automation World’s Editor in Chief Gary Mintchell about the progress made to date and offered a glimpse of the future at the end of March 2011.

“We originally talked about going on a journey when you interviewed me at the start of this process,” said Bhattacharya. “Then we started seeing a big, big recession. We always were feeling perilous. Can we manage the integration in the midst of this big downturn? I have been fortunate the team in place stepped up really well. Unlike many other companies, we actually came out of the recession stronger than going into it. We feel good that we’ve continued to grow customers and [have reached] into new business. We’ve also grown financially and with new products. That put us in a good place and boosts our confidence.”

One significant question lingers: Did Invensys plan to bail out of its process systems business in order to transform itself into some sort of software/services business? Eberhard’s explanations to the contrary never seemed convincing to either the industry or to internal personnel. So, two years into the latest transformation, how do things stand?

“Some of the things we said we’d do was to continue to make sure safety and control would stay in focus, stay as the core of the company. When we started the journey, the question was always, could a software guy do it? Well, we are winning some big safety and control projects. In the Middle East we won the largest refinery project with Saudi Aramco and Total. We had a significant win with Petrobras in Brazil. And also with nuclear plants. We’ve won all eight bids we had out. This is a good validation and proof that we are accomplishing what we set out to do.

“That has been satisfying in that it translates into significant wins. Going into the recession, we had 32 percent of orders booked in emerging economies. It is now over 60 percent, yet we have not lost share in North America.”

What has also worked well in product and portfolio is that now Invensys is able to leverage the Business Value Selling work that builds on top of real-time information from controls, with Wonderware as the platform. Speaking of Wonderware, Bhattacharya said, “We’ve also seen uptick in licenses of System Platform. They increased by 32 percent two years back, then last year by around 42 percent. Like I said two years ago, we want to be able to sell the platform above the control. If I can drive that platform, then I can drive apps on top.”

Bhattacharya calls the results of the Skelta acquisition better than anticipated. “You can embed the workflow engine [from Skelta] into the ArchestrA platform. Unlike the way it has been done traditionally, you can start writing custom code or scripting,” he said. Adding workflow and mobility solutions to the System Platform has gone very well, he concluded.

Invensys Vice President Peter Martin has been researching operations management decision making from the executive level to the operator. The results of his research and evangelism have been realized through the Business Values Solutions (BVS) team he now heads. Bhattacharya noted that the team is positioned to conclude several strategic deals. “Initially, this will be about solving business issues more than selling products. It’s a ‘let me come in and work with you to provide a solution to, for example, manage your energy or emissions or carbon footprint or productivity.’ Then we can say we also have these capabilities and partners. I’m really pleased the way the BVS team has shaped up.”
Bhattacharya concludes, “I feel good about where we are.” 

Invensys Operation Management, (http://iom.invensys.com)

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