Last week, executives from industry powerhouses around the world gathered to hear what Siemens, Ford Motor Co. and GE had to say about staying competitive in today's market. It was well worth the trip.

Over the two-day series of presentations at the PROFINET Executive Leadership Event, representatives from the companies outlined three critical factors determining manufacturers' success in today's market: productivity, connectivity and standardization.

To address these issues, the presenters settled on one key tool: innovative technology. And in this environment, that meant PROFINET.

PROFINET -- an industrial Ethernet networking system that has been widely adopted to help manufacturers develop factory and process automation -- is the standard Ethernet protocol adopted by these companies to help them meet these efficiency goals.

As Robert Bartels, a communications consultant at Siemens, said, one of the primary objectives of this event was "to shine a light on how U.S. manufacturers are connecting innovation to productivity." More specifically, he added that the goal was to highlight how "for more and more companies, the technology driving innovation is PROFINET."