For Manufacturers, the Factory Floor Meets Global Networks

Ford, Caterpillar, and Johnson Controls try to confront and control a wave of data.


[See Ford Concept Car Parks its Smart Apps in the Cloud.]

At a Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI) Webinar last April, Caterpillar's Espinosa acknowledged that there is still skepticism about social media among senior management and some customers. To win them over, Espinosa suggested that companies look to what's already being said about them.

"You can show them real, live examples of how the company is made to look," on the Internet, he said. The convincing case to act will be made once they see that their firm can be shown in an unflattering light—or that it's being misrepresented. In these situations, he said, "You can see examples of what people are saying about your brand. How you respond is up to you."

Corrected 06/06/2012: A previous version of this article incorrectly listed Caterpillar’s founding year. It is 1925.