JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success™
No. 200 : 28 December 2005

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

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to friends throughout the world.

May the second half of the first decade of this new millennium bring you Growth & Success in your business ventures, and more important, personal Peace, Happiness and Joy.

Hooray! This is the 200th issue of JimPinto.com eNews!

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Top trends for the next decade

We're all advancing on the future day by day. But as the year turns, it reminds us anew that things have changed, are changing, and will continue to change. This is when the futurists trot out their latest forecasts.

Here are some future projections to whet your appetite:

  • Society and Culture: Speeding up of change and demographic shifts, aging societies, single-person households. Loss of freedoms through continued anxiety over wars and terrorism,
  • Government & Politics:
    The idea of the nation state is threatened from both above and below. Power is shifting towards the local at the one end and the global at the other.
  • Science & Technology:
    Technology acceleration. Nanotechnology and machine intelligence will be disruptive, creating many ethical dilemmas. More clones & genetically modified foods. Specialization will give way to Convergence: synthesis of scientific and philosophic disciplines.
  • Healthcare, Medicine & Pharmaceuticals:
    Life expectancy will be 100+ by 2020. 90% of medicines donít work for 30% of people, so drugs will be tailor made for individuals. There'll be a boom in home based monitoring, diagnosis and treatment.
  • Work & Business:
    E-commerce will continue to grow rapidly due to cost and convenience. More flexibility with hours and work location: part time work, working from home, virtual offices. Growing power and influence of China and India.
Some of these projections come from a website by Richard Watson covering a dozen categories, with succinct summaries in 12 areas. (See link below) Plus, look at the 2006 trends.

Click Richard Watson: What's next - top trends

Click Business & Management - What are the Top Trends for 2006?

Click Red Herring - Top Security Trends for 2006

Click CEO Networking - Top 10 Trends for 2006

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Automation plus innovation wins

To achieve sustainable advantage in global business, manufacturing efficiency must be coupled with a steady stream of innovative new products and improved customer values.

Manufacturing is no longer a primary source of prosperity in the US and almost every advanced economy in the last two generations. Productivity improvements through automation have caused the percentage of people employed in US manufacturing to decline steadily from 25% in the 1960s to less than 10% today. Even China is losing manufacturing jobs.

Discussing manufacturing strategies in the first decade of the new century is somewhat like discussing agricultural strategies at the start of the last century. Farming used to employ some 35% in the US at that time, and now employs less than 2%, generating a surplus of food and agricultural products. Most of this came through automation Ė giant tractors, harvester combines and the like.

To follow this time-shifted parallel a bit further, at the turn of this new century, agriculture in the US is all about high-tech, bio-tech, and info-tech. Also there's increasing vertical integration of production, processing, and distribution at all levels within the global agricultural system. One wonders how much of that is prescient for manufacturing in this century.

To survive, manufacturing companies must identify customer values that offer advantages beyond just price. Manufacturing efficiency must be coupled with innovative new products. Products that interact across open platforms provide new opportunities; the solutions are often more valuable to the customer than the product itself.

Take Apple's iPod - priced at about $250, it carries thousands of dollars worth of songs and continued downloads from the Apple iTunes website. (Apple innovation story follows).

Even in the relatively slow-moving automation business, truly innovative companies generate a major segment of their revenues from products designed within the past 3-5 years. Schneider Electric and ABB are two companies that stand out in this respect. Schneider has approximately 3,000 development engineers across 20 countries. ABB allocates more than 8% its revenue and 20% of its corporate resources to new developments and improvements.

In the global economy, companies that go beyond manufacturing low priced commodities to offer improved customer values are the winners.

This commentary was extracted from my article published in Automation World, November 2005.

Click Automation World (Nov. 2005) - Automation Plus Innovation Wins

Click Deloitte Fast 50 shows that innovation wins

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Innovation fuels Apple's growth and success

Five years ago, Apple Computer seemed to have become a curiosity, occupying a small niche in computers. There were some diehard Apple proponents, but most busy computer-users seemed satisfied with adequate Microsoft software and widely available hardware.

But now, Apple is on a growth streak. They sold 22 million iPods over the past year, compared with about 4 million desktop and portable Macs. iPod and music revenue contributed about $5.4 billion, compared with Mac revenues of $6.3 billion. Peripherals are now a $1 billion business as is software and services.

Apple's cumulative iPod sales total more than 28 million. In the 2005 Christmas season alone, iPod sales are expected to be close to 10 million. Sales accelerated in 2005 with the iPod Nano (I Have one in my car, to play my favorites from among 2,000 songs, obsoleting my CD player) and the new Video iPod (which I take with me on any airplane trip, to watch my own videos and movies).

The streak of innovative products in 2005 sent Apple soaring to an all-time high of nearly $14 billion in revenue, more than double two years ago. Its stock also jumped in 2005, now trading at more than double the price a year ago.

Perhaps with an iPod halo-effect, Apple's PC market share jumped from a relatively stable 2-3% to 4%. In the third-quarter, Apple's market share of PC shipments was 4.4%, a jump of 43%, while the overall PC market grew by only 2%.

Again, with its landmark licensing deals with music and TV media, Apple is the pacesetter. In the consumer electronics world, the buzz is, 'What's Apple doing next?'

In a recent "Saturday Night Live", Apple's Steve Jobs was parodied as offering a new iPod every few minutes, culminating with the introduction of the new iPod Invisa which, though invisible, holds up to 8 million songs and movies.

Apple is "not telling" about its coming 2006 products, but people expect more rain from Rainmaker Steve Jobs.

Click Apple juggernaut shows no sign of waning

Click Apple Is Back on Top

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Robot race car champion - forerunner of driverless cars

On October 8-9, 2005, Stanford's souped-up Volkswagen drove itself through a difficult 132 mile course in the Mojave Desert and won DARPA's $2 million 2005 Grand Challenge.

Here's the story of Stanley, the DARPA 2005 winner. Stanley is built from a stock, diesel-powered Volkswagen Touareg R5 modified with full-body skid plates and a reinforced front bumper. It is actuated by a drive-by-wire system. All processing takes place on 6 Pentium M computers. Measurements are incorporated from GPS, inertial measurement unit, wheel speed, lasers, a camera and a radar system.

Today there are already several high-end cars that have automatic features such as road-condition reporting, adaptive cruise-control, collision detection, lane-departure prevention, auto parallel-park, blind-spot sensors, corner speed control.

The driverless car of the future is coming.

Click Wired (Jan 2006) - Say Hello, to Stanley

Click Volkswagen and Stanford Racing Team Win DARPA Grand Challenge

Click $2 million 2005 DARPA Robot race - 5 cross finish line

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2005 year-end - Pinto's philosophical points to ponder

Time ticks away, inexorably. For those who are busy it flies; for those who are waiting it drags. For those who are in love, it stops....

It was not long ago that the century and millennium turned, and the only worry was the Y2K bug - which didn't really strike after all. But right after that, things went awry in a hurry: corporate fraud symbolized by Enron, the stock market folded, the dotcom boom turned to bust, George W. Bush became President in an election that many still consider wrong.

And then 9/11 changed the world forever. A new threat came to the forefront: suicidal terrorism, symbolized by destruction of the twin towers in America's financial heart. This was a new kind of war that had to be waged against an unseen enemy, against ignorance and religious extremism. This was war that can never be declared truly over. More than ever before, this war is fueled by mass media that advertises excesses and highlights social and moral differences.

The religious extremism comes from both of the world's most widespread religions - Christianity and Islam. In America, the President flaunts his faith aggressively, and the beliefs of some fundamentalist Christians are as extreme as those of their Muslim counterparts. Each side's belief excludes that of any other, insisting that those who do not believe are damned. Sadly, Religion is the root of ALL the conflicts in the world's hotspots. Surely God is displeased with the horrors that are perpetrated in His name.

It's interesting that some 20% of Americans actually believe that the world will end some time within the next 20-30 years. This belief comes from strict interpretation of the Bible by conservative evangelical Christian Fundamentalists. And they provide major funding for Israel to fuel the conflict.

Strangely, coming from a totally different direction, the technology futurist Ray Kurzweil envisions the arrival of the "Singularity" in a similar timeframe - within the next 20-30 years. Caused by accelerating technology, the "Singularity" is a forecasted event that is beyond human ability to imagine. I marvel at the strange concurrence from widely divergent sources regarding the timing for the end of the world as we know it.

Rather than proceed, as I usually do, with technology projections (which are easy by comparison) let me dwell for a moment on metaphysics and spirituality. Bear with me here - I haven't turned nutty. At least, not yet.

The French astrologer Nostradamus (born 1503) published "The Centuries", his collection of prophecies, in 1555. Each four-line verse (or "quatrain") foretells world events far into the future. Some claim that his work has accurately predicted wars, natural disasters and the rise and fall of empires.

Interpreters of Nostradamus say that he foretold that the new millennium would start with a continuing series of natural disasters. Sound familiar? Some actually think he foresaw the 9/11 Twin Towers disaster. And he described a middle-eastern, bearded, turbaned man (bin Laden?) who starts the world conflict. Nostradamus predicted (some say) that these conflicts and disasters would continue for about 10-20 years, until world peace is established. Well, at least there's a happy ending - though we'll have to suffer while we wait.

But hey, cheer up! Perhaps technology will come to the rescue, and the Singularity will itself be the Second Coming....

Click Review Pinto's 2005 Possibilities, predictions & prognostications

Click Ray Kurzweil's book - "The Singularity is Near"
Worth the price to read just the first 2 chapters

Click Charlie Rose - Ray Kurzweil TV Interview

Click Life and Prophecies of Nostradamus

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John Carver [john.carver@ukgateway.net] from the UK is passionate on the subject of pharmaceuticals and genetically modified (GM) foods:
    "According to official figures, medication is the third leading cause of death in the western world (JAMA 1994, The Lancet 2002). That's not medical errors; it's correct diagnosis, drugs correctly prescribed, and correctly taken. And it's not unusual or experimental treatments. It's common everyday drugs like anti depressants, anti-inflammatories, statins. And we may guess that for every death there are many more who suffer from serious but non-lethal side effects. Most of these drugs are prescribed to alleviate the symptoms (drugs rarely cure anything!) of our western lifestyle. Statins are a good example. Since becoming aware of these issues I got my cholesterol (TC/HDL) down to 2.4, simply by dropping junk food and switching to a healthy diet with a minimum of processing. I also cured a few other chronic problems after years of medication.

    "People who live outside of civilization don't suffer from the degenerative diseases that we suffer from. And yet we are told that everything we eat is safe. And now they are upping the stakes to the next level, trying to persuade us to eat GM food. Not me.

    "We can see the influence of Big Pharma in the medical syllabus. In a 5 year medical degree, doctors spend 4 hours studying nutrition. One doctor in England got fed up with continually prescribing medication for patients who just kept coming back for more, so he went on a short course on nutrition. As a result, he not only reduced his NHS drugs bill from £54000 to £27000 a year, but he found that he was actually curing his patients. Imagine what would happen to the Pharmaceutical industry if doctors started getting those kind of ideas. Big Pharma has no intention of letting that happen.

    "There is of course another reason for GM crops. The seeds do not produce further seeds. That means you have to keep going back to Monsanto for more; so if you want to eat you have to ask Monsanto's permission. That's Power with capital P. Iraqi farmers who have been growing traditional grain for thousands of years have been forced to switch to GM by the Americans. Control of the world's food supply? Somehow I don't think people will be stupid enough to let that happen."

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Bob Fritz [rfritz@avtron.com] CEO of Avtron, had this to say on the subject of CEO compensation:

    "The people who write to you stating the government should limit CEO compensation remind me of a campaign against the UERMWA (United Electrical Radio and Machine Workers of America) Union in which I participated about 30 years ago.

    "The UE had a bylaw stating the international president's pay could be no higher than the highest paid hourly worker's negotiated contract in the world. Result: Nobody competent wanted the job, and you have probably never heard of the UE.

    "I have no heartburn with a CEO getting paid whatever. If he/she isn't worth it, the company's performance will not support it. If you don't like it, buy from their competitor. That's called freedom.

    "It seems to me that the same people who complain about CEO pay think nothing about some IQ-75 moron with an overactive pituitary gland earning $75,000,000 for playing sports. That doesn't bother me at all either. Nor do I care that some CEOs get paid a lot more than I do.

    "Again, it's called freedom. Stalinism didn't work. (And besides, Stalin and Castro cheated on their pay."

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Steven N Hinman [Steven.N.Hinman@us.mwhglobal.com] from Denver, Colorado, comments on my recent poverty editorial:

    "While I do agree that there are some excesses of capitalism today, everyone talks like it is something new. This stuff has always gone on, and always will.

    "The thing is, that the definition of poverty here in America, the way it is spelled out in official figures, is very misleading. The government constantly moves up the line that defines poverty, so that we always have 15-20% of our people "living in poverty". The key point is, that only a few of the 15-20% below the poverty line today, are the same people who were in that 15-20% 10 years ago, or will still be in that category 10 years from now.

    "The poor of our country have material possessions far beyond what the average person in Mexico has. Poverty is indeed a problem, but much of it comes from bad choices made by people who have the freedom to make bad choices. Drug addiction and alcoholism are often involved. I know that you don't have a choice on some of these things, diseases, but there is a way out; I know, as I have been there myself.

    "All in all, I'm very optimistic about America. I was once among our poor, I am now considered "rich" by those who say everyone above the 50% mark is rich. I'm an electrical engineer, so I will probably never be rich in the sense of a Bill Gates, as I'm not an entrepreneurial type. I just think that it's important that there are entrepreneurial folks who will take a chance to get a big return on their investments.

    "When my kids were growing up they would ask if we were rich, and I always told them we were rich in friendships, and we weren't worrying about where our next meal was coming from.

    "I grew up on a farm in S. Dakota, and I learned that if I didn't want to keep working 12 hours a day 7 days a week, I would have to get some education. However, there are a lot of people back there on those farms, still working like that, and loving it!

    "The important thing I have told my kids, is to find a job that they enjoy doing. Then it really doesn't matter how much they are paid."

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