Putting the ‘Dust’ in ‘Industrialist’s Dilemma’ Session at Stanford University

March 14, 2017

At the beginning of a Graduate School of Business class at Stanford University, the professor passed out baggies telling students to look at it, smell it, run it through their fingers. A few minutes passed and on-lookers could see some very perplexed faces. “Is this fungus?” someone shouted. No, it wasn’t fungus. It was Caterpillar in a simple form. It was dirt and yet, there were students who didn’t know what it was.  

Caterpillar’s Rob Charter, Customer and Dealer Support group president, was invited to speak to the class as they studied ‘The Industrialist’s Dilemma’ throughout the semester. Standing in front of dozens of Stanford students, Rob had a healthy debate on the impact of digital on Caterpillar’s future or if it was just a trend.  While understanding the concept of Caterpillar’s iconic brand from a business standpoint, the students were completely disconnected from what we actually do and how we do it.  Yet, these students work for and create startups in Silicon Valley that have a big impact in the Internet of Things.  

Throughout the two-hour session, Rob walked the class through Caterpillar’s digital strategy, outlining the transformation of how we do business, focusing on connectivity and analytics, the importance of speed and agility, and working with outside companies who push Caterpillar to act and think in a different way.  Highlighting examples like having the world’s largest connected industrial fleet that show Caterpillar is not only participating, but winning, in this space.

The end of class brought a realization of the importance and need to tell our story. And a great one it is.  Because if we don’t tell our story, who will? And are they getting it right? As we’ve said, Caterpillar will continue to be the world’s leading manufacturer of heavy equipment, but we are also working to ensure we’re the disruptor, not the disrupted, in the IIoT space.

To read more about Rob Charter’s presentation to the Stanford Graduate School of Business’ class and to watch an interview with the professor, click here.

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