JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success™
No. 266: 28 May 2009

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

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Invensys - Ulf's last hurrah

In a depressed economy, Invensys has good news: strong financials no debt, deposits totaling £309M, plus a £400M banking facility - paying a dividend of 1.5p per share.

Summary of results for year ended March 31, 09: Orders rose 38% to £2.81B. Revenue climbed 8% to £2.28B - down 4% at constant exchange rates. Operating profit fell 4% to £244 million. Rail and Process Systems performed well, but Controls declined in the second-half, and faces continued weakness.

CEO Ulf Henriksson orchestrated these results and "looks to the future with confidence". This means that Ulf is getting ready for his grand exit, as the hero who turned Invensys around.

Now came the new news: Process Systems, Wonderware and Eurotherm will be consolidated into one new entity - Invensys Operations Management (IOM). Rationale: This consolidation will expand offerings across the entire spectrum of control systems and operations, providing more customer focus and revenue potential from selling the entire range of offerings to each customer. Also, there would be cost savings from common delivery and back office functions.

The new name was accompanied by a new logo - tiny dots next to each tiny lower-case letter in weak-green, on top of an array of dots with a moving green line which changes shape and thickness. See for yourself on any Invensys webpage.

The new name IOM earns a yuck from me - seems a forced-fit to describe the motley mix of products. The new logo earned several double-yucks on the Invensys weblog (link below).

No leader was announced for IOM, leaving one to assume that Sudipta Bhattacharya would get that role - he likely came up with the idea. The consolidation packages like entities for sale, leaving Rail (doing well) and Controls (poor performance) which are likely being hawked simultaneously to other buyers.

Invensys shares have been climbing steadily - 235p on 27 May 09 - a jump of about 30% in the last month. The current market-cap is about £2B, which brings price/revenue ratio close to 1:1. This may signal Ulf's last hurrah - a good time for him to exit after a healthy sell off. You don't really think he wants to stick around, do you?

Click Invensys emerges from dark days with dividend

Click Invensys - latest financial results

Click Invensys weblog

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Jim Pinto Future Series - 3

My eNews discussions on The Future of Capitalism and Energy (eNews 24 April 2009) and The Future of Education, Health Care and TV (eNews 12 May 2009) brought stimulating eFeedbacks, prompting me to continue the "Future" series.

As we move into the second decade of the new millennium, several significant shifts are becoming evident. Wars continue to be waged; the US is shifting emphasis from Iraq to Afghanistan, while Pakistan becomes a new flash-point.

The new President sanctioned trillions of dollars of stimulus payments for banks, while the largest auto companies (and their dependent parts suppliers) are on the verge of bankruptcy, also looking for government handouts. Giant newspapers are going out of business in record numbers; to keep them alive will they too get handouts?

My futures subjects in this issue: The Future of War, and Newspapers. I'll appreciate your feedback.

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The Future of War

We humans are frightening animals. Throughout our existence, we have used new weapons to boost our destructive power for killing members of our own species. As the efficiency of our weapons has increased, the consequences have grown ever more extreme.

Technology advances which can be applied to the killing of other human beings are always at the forefront of our "defense" research. To spare our conscience, we call our aggressive actions "defense". And often, our "pre-emptive" offense is excused as defense.

The 19th century was dominated by discoveries in chemistry, from poisons to dynamite. The 20th century brought physics, from subatomic to nuclear weapons. The 21st century will see expanded forms of biological warfare, and robotic weapons.

The US Department of Defense continues to invest heavily in robotic technology that will take the place of human soldiers in battle. Autonomous weapons will decide where, when, and who to kill. It may not be long before robots become standard terrorist weapons to replace suicide bombers.

Experts have already issued warnings over the threat posed to humanity by new robot weapons. Consider this moral problem: In the future, will we consider killing thousands of enemy combatants without any casualties of our own? Will that be considered "winning"?

We live in an increasingly complex and interdependent society. Our cities once were walled fortresses where our ancestors sought refuge. But today, we live in giant cities, supplied with piped water and electricity, with trains in tunnels and cars on elevated roadways, with fiber optics under the pavement and air-conditioning buildings with windows that cannot be opened. Our new urban centers have the vulnerability to terrorism and attack built right into them. Any modern city can be held hostage by malicious computer programming, or radioactive "dirty bombs", or infectious bacteria.

The present supply and future potential of WMDs should convince us that the time has come once and for all to bring our long, violent history of warring against each other to an end. But how? We always blame the "enemy". And that enemy is us.

We live in very different evolutionary times. Our very survival as a species requires finding more ways to cooperate rather than compete. The survival of our species now means bringing an end to war as we know it. It is time to leave our history of aggression behind.

We can end War. We can create a future in which war is not only unacceptable, it's abhorrent and obsolete. What we need is a bold, unifying vision of how we can do it.

Click Wired - The Science of the Future of War

Click Dept. of Defense - Technology for 21st century warfare

Click Robots at War

Click A future without war

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The Future of Newspapers

Today, only 27% of Americans picked up a newspaper, whereas 37% regularly go online for news and 66% of people get their news from TV.

It is common knowledge that newspapers are now in serious decline. One by one, large icons in the business are going bankrupt, or they are being sold off to private investors who want either to "milk" the business, or convert to some other business model.

The newspaper industry cannot survive in the age of the Internet. Classifieds, their most profitable advertising, is quickly shifting online to sites like Craigslist, and display advertising is close behind. Compared with static images in newspapers, web advertising can be bright and colorful, with movement to attract attention and quick changes to match content.

The "killer" difference with Internet advertising is that results are traceable through counting page views and "pay per click". By comparison, print advertising cannot prove actual results, but can only cite total circulation.

Newspapers saw the Internet coming in the early 90's, but their plans to deal with it were flawed. They tried to educate the public about copyright law, but new payment models were ignored. They thought they could use technology to make content harder to share, but that didn't work. They pursued radio and TV profit models by becoming purely ad-supported. But, free, clickable online content is hard to beat.

Some think that the value of the "press" is much more than news; it lies in holding governments to account. Just because newspapers go away doesn't means news sources will die. News sources will always find the biggest megaphone they can to get their views out. That simply isn't newspapers any more.

The Internet has expanded the news process, and speeded it up. By the time a daily newspaper is actually read, the news may already have changed. The weeklies and monthlies are completely outdated as far as news is concerned; all they have left is carefully considered commentary, after the news.

Washington may be inching closer to some sort of newspaper bailout - which is nonsense. A government subsidized "free press" isn't free at all. Newspapers employ a mere 0.2% of the US labor force and generate only 0.36% of the GNP. Small enough to dump!

Newspapers are outdated businesses with outdated technology. Printing the New York Times costs twice as much as sending every subscriber a free Amazon Kindle. Besides, printing newspapers hurts the environment (wasted paper) and delivery of millions of copies of newsprint wastes energy.

Click Newspapers Must Be Allowed To Fail

Click Do Newspapers Have a Future?

Click Who killed the newspaper?

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The importance of personal networking

There's an old saying - "It's not what you know; it's who you know." Being well connected is the ultimate source of personal effectiveness and advantage. It is shared success, where what you can give is as important as what you can get from your personal networking.

My own personal networking comes through my writing - columns such as this - and my speeches on automation and future technology topics. The Q&A sessions during my speeches often result in spontaneous discussions that inspire new ideas. And the people I meet give me more ideas, plus invitations for more speaking engagements. My eNewsletter brings regular feedback, and I make it a point to respond to each one - which builds and strengthens my network.

E-mail has become a powerful networking tool, making regular contact easy, without being as intrusive as telephone calls. You exchange items of mutual interest - Web links, pictures, news items and the like - regularly with several close connections, which brings them even closer.

Online networking has the multiplying viral effect that's unique to the Internet. Beyond the value of Facebook and Twitter for social networking, online business networking communities such as LinkedIn and Plaxo have become important tools. To narrow the search, they include sub-networks focused on topics of particular interest.

Then there's old-fashioned networking - in person, with a handshake. With large group meetings, however, you must manage your involvement to network effectively. Here are some do's and don'ts to help personal networking effectiveness:

  • Don't fall into the rut of sticking with someone you know. Circulate to find new people and new ideas.
  • Don't get stuck with someone who has nothing to offer. ("Excuse me, I see someone…").
  • Don't ask for favors without offering something in return.
  • Do have plenty of business cards to hand out, and help people to remember you beyond just your business card.
  • Do follow-up quickly, and stay in touch to develop the contact.
  • Do build relationship bridges, offering information of mutual interest to fuel the friendship.
Networking is one of the most rewarding activities in which you can engage, and you get better with practice. Become a regular networker. Count your connections, because connections count.

Click Automation World - Connections Count

Click Networking Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Click Personal Networking - How to Make Your Connections Count

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Exercise your brain

This interesting item comes from Ross Bonander, Stress Management Specialist, through the prolific email list of Dick Morley, automation technology guru, famed inventor, good friend.

Technology may simplify your life, but it doesn't make you smarter. It's supposed to make life easier, but it does to your brain what McDonald's did to the hamburger: standardizes it to stupidity.

A more flexible mind, a more potent imagination and a healthy skepticism must all be actively pursued. But too often, technology just gets in the way.

If you want to keep your brain sharp, give it a workout. Here are some brain exercises which will get the inactive neurons firing.

The best exercises involve just you and your brain. This 5-day workout routine features a small change to encourage mental flexibility, a focus on a perceptive sense to foster imagination. Ross Bonander adds a critical thinking tool to apply throughout the day to nourish healthy skepticism. (See weblink below).


  • Small change: Brush your teeth with your weaker hand.
  • Sense - Vision: On your break at work, step outside and find an object to focus on. Take a tree, for example; how many shades of color do you see? How many of these can you name? Consider the kinds of associations or metaphors you can make out of it, such as "family tree" or "tree of life".
  • Small change: Spell long words backwards.
  • Sense - Hearing: As different people speak to you throughout the day, cue in to the inflections they use to accent certain words or points. Listen to the words they stress and ask yourself why these inflections are being used.
  • Small change: Ditch calculators - do any and all computations in your head.
  • Sense - Touch: When getting out of bed or coming home from work, shut your eyes and feel your way around, relying only on communication between your mind and your hands.
  • Small change: Shower/bathe in the dark.
  • Sense - Taste: Pick a recipe composed of mostly foreign ingredients and prepare it. Try choosing something that you've never tried before (curry? sushi?) but have always been curious about.
  • Small change: Take a different route to work.
  • Sense - Smell: Pick any hour of the day and for that hour, keep a running count in your head of how many different odors and aromas you come across. Pay attention to the primary element in each, and your response to it.
    Feel free to relax and be as stupid as you want.

Click Brain Exercises

Click Working Out At The Brain Gym

Click Fine-Tune Your Brain

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Dick Caro [RCaro@CMC.us] is on the Wireless Standards committee. He comments on my recent lament on the ISA-100 deliberations:
    "It's always difficult to determine what exactly is happening from outside the committee meetings, but I really enjoy your completely outside perspective. As always, vendor supplied disinformation is present, while the insider's views are not easily made known.

    "The way we make standards is always in question, as is the need for standards. For example, there is no world standard for the electrical AC outlet; not even an European (EEC) standard. Yet, we all travel internationally with our bag of adapters.

    "In this case, the ISA-100 wireless standard was conceived at ISA in October 2004. Given the ISA history of long periods of standards development, it is no surprise that vendors proceeded to build product for the intended market. Uninhibited by the user's desire for an open standard, the HART Communications Foundation (HCF), with major contributions by Emerson, proceeded with a private development of WirelessHART.

    "When a consortium develops a communications protocol, consensus is much easier than for an open standards committee development. I knew this when I asked the Fieldbus Foundation to develop the HSE (High Speed Ethernet) version of Fieldbus. It was done in time to be included into the 8-headed IEC 61158 monster of 2001.

    "Likewise, WirelessHART has been completed before ISA100, but only because they have a narrow focus - to put the 25 million orphaned wired HART instruments on a connected wireless network. This was one of the objectives of ISA-100 as well; but ISA-100 extends its network to a plant wide scale. Neither WirelessHART nor ISA-100 has completed an open testing/certification suite yet, though both groups have test suites in development.

    "I thought you might like an insider's viewpoint to add to your valuable outsider's view. Thanks for always keeping us honest."

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David Bell [dbell.greyskies@shaw.ca] on the decline of American Manufacturing:

    "I think our 'thinking' about manufacturing confuses two issues: One (implicitly) is whether manufacturing will continue as the 'Great Employer'. Illustration — the big-3 automakers were understood as a gigantic retirement plan.

    "When I started in industrial automation in 1980, typical newsprint machine performance was: Web=25 feet wide; Speed=3000 ft/min; tended by 40 people.

    "Ten years later by 1990: typical newsprint machine performance: Web=35 feet wide; Speed=6000 ft/min; tended by 4 people.

    "'Productivity' is completely irrelevant (if not openly toxic). Market development is key. Focus on productivity is economic cannibalism. I think we need to start articulating a new manufacturing culture not focused on employment or (derivative) productivity. The new model (largely ignored so far) is all about market development - the investment capital will follow. If manufacturing is about anything apart from market development it will fail.

    "Market development doesn't mean jamming more product into the market. Soichiro Honda (an old hero of mine) believed that manufacturers have a responsibility to provide leadership by showing people something they might hook into (but had not imagined). I think he’s right — we have the capacity and responsibility to create a new world around us — to demonstrate and develop the market for imagery (manufactured products = stage props of the economy) that honors and lights up the aspirations of the world.

    "That’s what we used to do. That’s what we need to do again."

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Rene Dionne, [Rene.Dionne@AirLiquide.com] discusses trends in the new economy:

    "I had said to a friend a couple years ago that TV is dead, and so is Radio, but they don't know it! The Internet makes all of the exclusiveness of these old-style media obsolete; who needs a newscast show with a groomed anchor, proper lighting, TV monitors in the background, when you can have RSS feeds, podcasts, streaming on your portable 'teleputing' (one of your terms) platform, be it the iPhone, Blackberry or Palm.

    "To add to my comment that TV does not know that it is dead, you can still watch a weekly program showing you what nice web sites their journalists found this week.

    "I agree with you that the WEB will evolve and help us make decisions, sort the information for us, and store our information secured, encrypted, and automatically backed-up. The memory will be there and we'll access it for random consultation on our small personal platform.

    "Don't get me wrong, I still like to hold a book in my hands (I have 2 of your books!) and read stories to my kids. But my kids, and their kids, will probably be more used to HTML pages and PDF format without having the need to physically hold the thing in their hands, while the whole thing is in their personal platform.

    "The future is bright!"

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