JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success™
No. 277 : 12 January 2010

Keeping an eye on technology futures.
Business commentary - no hidden agendas.
New attitudes, no platitudes.

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JimPinto.com weblogs getting management's attention

The blogging phenomenon is transforming politics, business and society on a broad front. Weblogs, or "blogs" for short, represent millions of online comments linked together into a vast network of individuals and businesses. According to Business Week, weblogs are the most explosive outbreak in the information world since the Internet itself.

The JimPinto.com website features weblogs on all the major automation Companies: ABB, Emerson, Honeywell, Invensys, Rockwell, Schneider, Siemens and Yokogawa. If GE enters the automation business in a big way (by acquiring Invensys or Rockwell) they'll get a weblog.

Many of these blogs are attracting more than 1,000 visits per day, and when something controversial comes along, the traffic shoots up to many times that number.

Why does JimPinto.com do these blogs? Because there is a BIG demand. In this recessionary environment, many comments are clearly generated by disaffected employees and represent an outlet for people who have no other way to communicate within their own company.

I do try to calibrate the input, to make sure it is NOT simply from a competitor. It's all too easy to ghost-write a complaint about specific people or situations. I review each incoming blog, and remove overly negative material, or stuff that simply looks like rumors. I don't like "rumors".

Blogs are shaking up just about every business. In this period of accelerating change, it's evident that senior management in all the automation companies read these blogs regularly. I've encouraged the people I know to respond and some of them do, though it can attract more flack. But that's good, and it often effectively mutes the critics. I recommend it strongly - it's better than pretending to ignore the barbs.

JimPinto.com weblogs have often outed news that is flatly denied by management, which makes them look silly when it eventually surfaces.

Typically, your name and email address will NOT be published in the weblog, unless specifically requested. However, including your name/email adds credibility - especially if you are at management level.

I'll appreciate your feedback for my efforts. And, if you care about your company, perhaps you can encourage more people to weblog positive inputs.

Click JimPinto.com weblog Index

Click Business Week - Blogs will change your business

Click PC Magazine - The Blog Phenomenon

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Cloud Computing is here, but security is key issue

Computing wars will intensify this year, in hardware and operating systems, especially in the mobile arena. Growth in netbooks and smart phones and increased reliance on cloud computing will continue to transform personal computing from old markets dominated by Microsoft's Windows. The previously stable desktop arena will be surrounded by chaos, with lots of opportunities but no clear winners.

A fast-growing number of storage and software applications are moving to "the cloud" - offsite services provided by the likes of Amazon, Google, Microsoft and other major contenders.

With an eye on being the lowest-cost cloud competitor, the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) gives customers the chance to bid on unused computing capacity to save money on low-priority work that can be deferred until computing demand and prices are low.

In its annual "Top 10 Strategic Technologies" list, analyst firm Gartner proclaimed that cloud computing is the number one technology.

The steady migration toward cloud computing is driven first by cost, and then by quality of service. The immediate push comes from the economic downturn and the need to cut costs. The shift is massive, both in physical scale and economic impact. It allows businesses to turn off their own expensive, dedicated systems.

With the emergence of the cloud model and software-as-a-service (SaaS), large systems vendors like IBM, HP and Dell have been buying up service companies. It's changing the image of what each company really provides. Midst these big changes, it's uncertain who will emerge as real winners.

There will be many short-term pricing benefits and increased service. But the longer-term effects may not be quite so good for users. The gurus are warning that there will be some kind of catastrophe before too long, either service-outage or security-flaws. But, of course, these things can happen with dedicated systems too.

How secure is cloud computing? Clearly the major providers are paying a lot of attention to this key point because they are investing a lot and don't want to risk their reputation. But it remains perhaps the single biggest negative element in the switch to cloud services. Some companies hedge their bets by moving to more than one cloud provider.

Users have been thinking about these kinds of questions for months as they attempt to clean up their data centers by outsourcing some applications and virtualizing others.

Click Cloud Computing Grows Up

Click Security In A Cloud

Click Forecast for 2010: The Coming Cloud 'Catastrophe':

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Jim Pinto speech at Baton Rouge Conference

I'll be giving the keynote speech this month at the Greater Baton Rouge Industry Alliance (GBRIA) Conference in Baton Rouge, LA. The conference theme is "New Solutions to Industry's Greatest Challenges." GBRIA's members include over 50 petrochemical and heavy industrial plants.

The conference will be held on January 27, 2010 from 7:30 am - 4:00 pm at the Baton Rouge Marriott. There's a dinner reception the previous evening for sponsors with the Keynote Speakers, which you might like to attend - please call Connie Fabre (contact details below) to become a sponsor and get yourself on the guest-list.

Key challenges that GBRIA members shared in a recent survey include dealing with operations issues such as plant reliability, maximizing automation technology, regulations, safety training, and managing relationships between contractors, customers, employees and the public.

My speech will be: "The Future of industrial automation, technology and global trends".

Also featured at this conference will be Dr. Loren C. Scott, noted economist and speaker, who will share the latest update on the volatile US economy and provide key clues to the recovery.

Objective of the conference:

  • Deliver the latest technology trends, resources and information to optimize plant operations, safety and training
  • Help local industry manage and comply with pending and recent regulations
  • Provide solutions to relations between internal and external customers, community and government
  • Give participants the tools to effectively manage a contract workforce and benefit from synergy and best practices of the local area
Who should attend: Plant managers, industrial company managers, construction company owners, maintenance and construction managers, engineering & project planners/managers, production managers, safety managers, human resource managers, public affairs managers, suppliers & contractors to local industries.

I have lots of old customers and friends in the Baton Rouge area. You might like to attend, to get together and catch up on old times and new ideas.


    Connie P. Fabre, Executive Director
    Greater Baton Rouge Industry Alliance, Inc.
    Phone (225) 769-0596
    Click Connie@gbria.org

Click Register for the GBRIA Conference

Click Jim Pinto - 1 minute sales pitch (video):

Click Pinto Topics, Testimonials and recent speaking events

Click Jim Pinto - speaking engagements (video):

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Pinto picks for 2010 top-5 automation technologies

Here are my picks for the top-5 automation technologies that will make an impact this year:
Industrial Wireless
    Wireless is an enabling technology for new applications beyond just wire-replacement. My hunch is that completely new applications will emerge with new wireless capabilities. We'll see more and more wireless products announced in this coming year, with standards being just an incidental nicety. It could spark a new phase of growth that will re-energize industrial automation.
Embedded Intelligence & M2M
    The "pervasive Internet" is still emerging in industrial markets. In spite of the economic slowdown, perhaps because of it, M2M will burst through in the coming decade with a plethora of products and applications. Most large assets will include self-monitoring procedures, reporting up the hierarchy with information such as uptime & downtime, diagnostics, usage and failure patterns, and more. All this will become available at an affordable price, generating new revenue growth for leaders.
Cloud-computing & Software as a Service (SaaS)
    This is a burgeoning new area in commercial and office business, and growth will spill over into factories and process plants. All but the most critical components will be run "in the cloud". The switch will occur simply because of the growing burden of technology obsolescence of capitalized hardware and continuing support.
Plant & Factory Security Systems
    Most of today's automation & control systems use the same hardware and communications as broadly deployed networks. Apart from deliberate hacking, worms and trojans can enter through mainstream systems. Automation systems security has become an urgent issue, perhaps even a critical one. Effective security protection solutions and services will generate good growth.
Consumer Products
    Automation rarely comes up with head-turning tech break-throughs. Most high-tech gadgetry emerges first in the consumer arena (see next eNews item). But rapid advances and low-cost availability will see plant and factory personnel with iPhones and Blackberrys and Android phones in their pockets, with a lots of low-cost industrial apps available. Get your Blackberry to send you a bulletin when your boiler blows. Put your annunciator alarms on your Android. Peek at your process panels with your iPhone - there's an App for that.

Click Pinto 2009 automation top technology & market trends

Click 2008 Pinto's Pointers - Technologies & Markets

Click Five Technologies That Could Change Everything

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Top-5 consumer-tech gadgets for 2010

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, NV. is the largest electronics trade show in the world. This year, January 7-10 2010, it featured over 2700 exhibits, with the latest software and hardware, home theater equipment and innovative gadgets - the geek idea of heaven.

Midst the plethora of products and gaggle of gadgetry, here's what caught my eye:

Tablet PCs
    PCs stripped of their keyboards and touch pads, these are essentially handheld screens that do most of what your laptop does, but with touch controls and 3G data access to stay connected. There were several versions at CES, but all tablets are debuting under the shadow of Apple's still-unannounced tablet, which the rumor mill says will be called "iSlate." Oh well, I like the name "iPad", and since I'm still enjoying my iPhone experience, I'll probably buy one, whatever it's called. But I'm also eyeing HP's new "Slate". Choices, choices...
The ebook revolution
    A tidal wave of next-generation ebook readers unleashed this week. Following the success of Amazon's Kindle, which reportedly sold 500,000 units worldwide in 2009, a slew of companies are trying to push traditional publishers towards the ebook revolution. Dozens of new ebooks were announced at the show, from electronics giants like Samsung and Sony, as well as smaller businesses that are trying to establish themselves as pioneers. Meantime, Ray Kurzweil's Blio (free software for regular PCs) is coming to show ebooks & magazines with full-color pages, showing books with their original layout, fonts, and graphics. One wonders if tablets plus software will eliminate iPaper and ebooks.
TV on Internet
    Lots of people are starting to recognize that the handheld cellphone is becoming the primary personal window for the Internet. Holding an iPhone at arms-length is the same as viewing a 35-inch screen across the room. And the sound for Youtube video or CNN broadcast is pretty good. So, where is TV going? Or rather, where will it come from? My guess is most "broadcasts" will come via the Internet, watched on your hand-held when you're alone, and linked to a large-screen when you get home. Lots of gadgets are coming to make that transition easy.
Cell phone heaven (& hell)
    Recognizing the desktop/video/TV transition, and aiming to take on Apple's iPhone, Google has announced Nexus One, a touch-screen phone that runs the Google Android operating system. Nexus' size is about the same as the iPhone, but it has a larger screen, and will sell for $179 with a T-Mobile USA contract - $529 for just the hardware, easily activated with a SIM-card. With a huge variety of features, content and downloadable "apps", the mobile phone is the latest consumer battlefield, and old leaders will likely fall.
The world's thinnest laptop
    Midst lots of cellphones, and the coming "cloud", there are lots of "netbooks" (stripped-down laptops). Dell showed the world's thinnest laptop - at 9.9 mm it's thinner than many mobile phones. Very nice unlocking system - you simply stroke the front of the lid to open it. Then, it sits up, with the keyboard tilted at a more ergonomic typing angle. The motherboard and 128GB solid-state drive are behind the screen, not beneath the keyboard. Nice, but will it save Dell?
Consumers (you and I - and hordes of Indians, Chinese and Brazilians in the global village) are scrambling for equal footing in the new tech-landscape. With these new skills and "techcabilities", the race for increased personal effectiveness is accelerating forward. Are YOU in?

Click Time.com - Techland

Click Five Top Tech and Gadget Trends at CES 2010

Click ZDNET CES 2010 diary

Click CES 2010: The ebook revolution

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There's another Jim Pinto out there, a good friend. The other Jim Pinto [Jimpinto@aol.com] writes about the skills shortages:
    "I am running a manufacturing company which practices just-in-time delivery and lean manufacturing processes. Our local made-in-USA company is very profitable. However, over the past two years, I had to go through over 400 resumes and 3 new hires to hire just one good mechanical engineer.

    "Most college students have no skill sets to enter the work force, especially in a small company where you must wear a lot of hats.

    Another area is skilled machinists. Many machinists have left the industry, and the ones coming out of trade school can't even program a standard Fanuc control system.

    "Some one needs to push a program to offer more on-the-job-training, so that we can keep certain core-competencies in the USA . I can get a sample machine part faster out of Asia that I can from a machine shop in the USA. I finally purchased new machines, to have my own proto-typing shop, so that we can be faster to market than our competition."

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M. L. Coleman [OCALADY@aol.com] laments our changed value-systems:

    "One of the things that I regret is that our country seems to be changing what it values. An athlete or an entertainer who is paid mega-millions is admired. His or her income is not questioned though it may be gained by just a physical skill or the result of several years' practice.

    "Yet executives who have spent their lifetime gaining an education and years of experience, are seen as greedy and probably dishonest if they finally achieve a few years at well-paid top positions.

    "If we cease to value the intellectual skills that require graduate school, medical school, years of apprenticeship, application or climbing-the-ladder, and instead admire the easy, dumbing down of hard mental application and study, we are going to change the population to one that values only 'bread and circuses' and is vulnerable to all sorts of evils and manipulation."

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Paul Travers [paul.travers@ips.invensys.com] comes up with a novel outsourcing idea:

    "I enjoy getting the different view points from your many articles; makes one think out side the box.

    "We started outsourcing in the 80's. I wonder why we haven't yet outsourced the prison system. Very expensive for us taxpayers to support all this wrong doing.

    "The states and the federal system would save considerably if we shipped convicted long term prisoners to cheaper facilities abroad. We could see some real tax relief."

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