"I was blown away by the whole openness aspect of the conference," states Tom Wright, chief operating officer of  Syscon Automation  in Salt Lake City, Utah, an integrator specializing in discrete manufacturing/food and beverage. "Many professionals at events just don’t have that unabashed, real desire to help others."

For Eugenio D’Ursi, CEO of   Automate, S.R.L. , a Rome-based system integrator, attending the conference meant overcoming some skepticism and taking the advice of a countryman. "Luigi De Bernardini told me about CSIA and his experience, and I said, let’s try!" explains D’Ursi. (Full disclosure: De Bernardini is CSIA Chair and CEO of  Autoware , S.R.L. Vicenza, Italy, a system integrator offering MES solutions to manage operations.)

"Italians are special people. We live in a small, concentrated area. However, I feel ‘alone’ in my business … and we are worried to share problems and opportunities. [At the conference] I found exactly the opposite: willingness to share, willingness to collaborate and willingness to grow," he recalls.