JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success™
No. 173 : 22 January 2005

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

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Omron sustains unique mission with profitable growth in 2004

Omron's mission is unique for a capitalistic business: "To contribute meaningfully to the development of society".

In its annual reports and corporate literature, Omron keeps re-emphasizing the ideals of its founder, Dr. Kazuma Tateisi: "At work for a better life, a better world for all". This became Omron's motto in 1959, and has remained the cornerstone ever since.

Dr. Tateisi believed that the reason for a company's existence is to bring benefits to society. He pioneered the idea that a company should fulfill its responsibility to society, rather than solely focusing on productivity, efficiency, sales growth and profits.

Omron's total revenue in 2004 was $5.5B, with growth of about 10% and profit of about 5%, very healthy for a Japanese company. Omron has been consistently profitable over the years, recovered from a loss in 2002, with essentially break-even in 2003.

Omron's largest business segment (39%) is industrial automation at $2.2B. The company has a very broad range of products - PLCs, I/O, networks, sensors, vision systems, operator interface, temperature and process controls, printed-circuit-board inspection equipment, timers, counters, panel meters, power supplies, servo drives, motors and inverters; the list of products is almost overwhelming. Omron's supports this broad range with strong local engineering capability.

Omron's automation business has grown consistently over several years. About 50% of automation revenue is in Japan, with N. America contributing 8%, Europe 26%, Asia 4% and China 8%.

Other Omron businesses include Electronic Components (15%), Automotive Electronics (10%), Social Systems (traffic and financial services - 23%) and Healthcare (8%) - you'll find Omron blood-pressure monitors and thermometers in many US department stores.

In this new age, in a new century, Omron is indeed a remarkable business leader. The company combines philosophical ideals with strong and effective business management. We wish them continued growth and success!

Click Omron - The Philosophical Leader
No. 10 on the list of Automation Majors

Click An American view of the Omron culture

Click JimPinto.com Japanese company weblog

Click Dr. Kazuma Tateisi's book - The Eternal Venture Spirit
Some new and used copies are available on Amazon.com

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AspenTech postscript - founder exits

The recent JimPinto.com eNews (10 January 2005) provided an overview of Aspen Technology. After the appointment of Mark Fusco (installed by Advent, investor and controlling shareholder) as CEO, I suggested that founder Larry Evans would probably exit soon. I was not being prescient; it was an easy extrapolation.

As if on cue, AspenTech announced on January 13, 2005 that Larry Evans, Chairman of the Company's Board of Directors, retired from the Board. Larry Evans, 70, was the principal founder of AspenTech and served as Chairman and CEO from 1981-2002, continuing in his role as Chairman over the following two years.

Probably as part of his exit package, Larry Evans will continue to serve as a Senior Advisor to AspenTech, to help provide strategic input to the company.

At the end of the week, Friday 21 Jan. 2005, AspenTech stock was at 5.32, with market-cap at $224M. Now, it remains to be seen how Advent International will find their exit - with, or without, a "haircut".

Stay tuned. It won't be long before you see more AspenTech news.

Click Larry Evans Retires from Aspen Technology's Board of Directors

Click The rise and fall of Aspen Technology

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Meet Perry Marshall - author, consultant & renegade marketer

I first encountered Perry Sink Marshall in 1999 when he sent me a humorous purple audio-cassette called "The Fieldbus Blues". Yes, this was a song about industrial automation networks! A blues-singer damsel was swooning over her sexy Fieldbus Man:
    "I prefer someone who's quick and clean,
    With a single cable on his machine."
At that time, Perry Marshall was National Sales Manager at Synergetic Micro Systems. He had made the promotion of DeviceNet, Profibus and Industrial Ethernet into his own, personal mission. Perry was successful too - growing the company's product business from a tiny garage outfit to $4 million in four years. Synergetic was sold to Lantronix in 2001. Rather than staying on with corporate shackles, Perry elected to venture out on his own as a marketing consultant.

Perry Marshall bridges dissimilar worlds, introducing direct marketing strategies and inventive hooks to the normally staid industrial market. He's author of ISA's popular book on Industrial Ethernet. His monthly marketing newsletter offers keen insights for lone-ranger entrepreneurs as well as corporate managers. His business now extends well beyond the industrial world; he is one of the world's leading advisors on the Google AdWords program.

If you're in sales or marketing, get with it. Ask for samples of Perry Marshall's regular printed-copy "Marketing Newsletter" - you'll be captivated by his marketing tips, sales stories, copywriting tricks and entertaining, easy-to-read commentary. When you sign up, you'll also receive a free audio CD: Guerilla Marketing for Hi-Tech Sales People.

Edgy, iconoclastic and honest to a fault, Perry Marshall's a man you should pay attention to, especially if you sell new technology in a change-resistant, conservative market.

Click Check out Perry Marshall's website

Click The Definitive Guide to Google AdWords by Perry Marshall

Click Nine Great Lies of Sales & Marketing

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The Saudi syndrome

When you purchase gasoline, you might want to think about where some of that gas money you pay will ultimately be going.

America now imports well over half of the oil it consumes, and more than 50% of US consumption is in the form of motor vehicle fuels. Every barrel America imports, wherever it originates, helps push up the price received by Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter.

Saudi Arabia is the source of 15% of US imported oil, and it's low production costs allow it to reap a hefty profit. It now receives about $80 billion a year from oil exports. Part of that goes to government and private charities, amounting to billions of dollars a year. This helps to finance mosques and religious schools, preaching and teaching a fanatical variant of Wahabi Islam, the Saudi state religion. And Wahabi Islam definitively promotes the legitimacy of terrorist attacks. Indeed, 15 of the 19 people involved in the 9/11 attacks were from Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi government, itself under assault from Al Qaeda, is not directly financing terrorism. Since 9/11 they have responded to American pressure to control the flow of charitable funds to active terrorist groups. But what they still pay for, and what Saudi citizens and religious charities are obligated to contribute towards, is a worldwide network of mosques, schools and Islamic centers that proselytize the belligerent and intolerant variant of Wahabi Islam that is dominant in Saudi Arabia. As a result, the teachings of more humane and progressive Muslim leaders are losing ground in poorer countries like Indonesia and Pakistan.

There is no sinister Saudi conspiracy at work here. It's just what happens when huge amounts of oil money flow into an absolute monarchy that bases its legitimacy on puritanical militant Islam.

Saudi Arabia offers no pretense of political accountability, or transparent accounting. The more oil money that flows, the less pressure the Saudi royals feel to undertake the difficult political and economic reforms that could stop sowing the seeds of terrorism.

Click Original NY Times article - The Saudi Syndrome

Click The Saudi connection

Click Conspiracy of Silence Hides Saudi Connection to Terrorism

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Letting go of old computers

We all know the impact of Moore's Law - computer power doubles every 18 months. The corollary is that the computer you own today will be available at half the price within a year or so.

With increasing computer power, and cheap multiple gigabytes of hard-disk memory, the size and complexity of software grows rapidly to match. So, suddenly, you find that your new software upgrades don't work too well on your old computer. You need to upgrade your hardware to match - faster CPU, more and more RAM, ever higher-capacity hard-drives.

OK, so you buy a new computer - maybe every 3 years or so. Now, what are you going to do with your old one? You'd like to sell it - but no one wants to buy it for even a fraction of the price you paid. The jewel you treasured for three years is now obsolete. No one wants it!

So, give it away - donate it to a worthy cause. It turns out that the charities that take old clothes and furniture and all your other junk, don't take computers and monitors and printers. They point to warnings that these electronic products may contain "hazardous stuff" which cannot just be thrown in the trash. They refuse to take them.

A few years ago, I had a friend who owned a successful company which handled old electronic circuit boards. He bought all our old inventory. They had developed a good system to extract the gold and other precious metals from printed circuits and connectors. I looked him up - it turns out that he went out of business about 5 years ago, and now owns a car dealership somewhere....

So, now what was I supposed to do with my two "old" computers? They came with still-working keyboards and mice and two old-fashioned CRT color-monitors, plus a desk-jet printer in good working condition. I'd used one of these (Intel 200 MHz CPU) for 5 years, and upgraded to the other (Intel 800 Mhz cpu) about 3 years ago. I continued to use the older computer with my home network, to store all my backup files.

I recently bought a new printer/copier/fax/scanner for $ 99.00 and didn't need my old printer. Besides, new B&W and color cartridges for the old printer cost more than my new printer. Hey, but it still worked - so how could I possibly just dump it?!

I called around to see who wanted my good stuff. My neighbor Wade is a tech guru so I asked his advice. He already had 8 computers on his network because he too couldn't get rid of them. Besides, he pointed out that the hard-disks should be completely erased to avoid old, sensitive information falling into the wrong hands: "You never know which hacker will get his hands on your old machine," he warned.

Ouch, I hadn't thought of that! It turns out that even re-formatting may not completely erase the hard-disk; some files can still be recovered. Wade suggested I use a disk-eraser program to completely blank my hard-drives before I disposed of my computers. Now, I had to buy some more software and spend another few hours of worry before I even gave my computers away! Now what?

My son Chris was visiting from San Francisco. He says that in the City, they just put old stuff outside on the street, with a sign saying "Free". It's gone within minutes. He got a decent old couch, in quite good condition, that way - and when it got older, he simply went through the same process - put it outside on the street and it was gone. Well, I doubted that I could do that with my old computers in the San Diego suburbs - my neighbor might simply add his stuff to my pile.

So, I called around again. Someone said they wanted the 800 Mhz unit, but I'd have to take it there, and they didn't want the other stuff. Someone else suggested that I could advertise on "Craig's List" - the online local-pickup equivalent of eBay - to see who'd buy. But, a buyer for the old computer was unlikely.

I found that the official San Diego re-cycling unit would take my computers from me, if I paid $18.00 per computer, and $ 25.00 each for monitors. Ouch*!*! So, now I had to PAY to have them hauled away!

Then I found out about a Yahoo Group called "FreeCycle" - the San Diego group is called "SDFreeCycle" - and I signed on. This is the online version of leave-it-on-the-street discards. They were listing furniture and all kinds of junk - whoever wants it comes to pick it up.

So, that's what I did. I gave my good, working 800 Mhz model to the public library. And then some students came via SDFreeCycle, happy to get all these things for nothing. And I'm happy that all my "stuff" now has a good home.

Hey! What do YOU do with all YOUR old computers?

Click EBay, Intel Launch Initiative to Recycle Used Electronic Gadgets

Click San Diego Freecycle Yahoo Group

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Dick Caro [RCaro@CMC.us] provides his own views and extensions on the futures topics raised in the January 1, 2005 issue of eNews:
    "I am constantly amazed at how much the science fiction writers were wrong in forecasting technical advancement. Not factually wrong, just premature.

    • Huxley, 1984 - did not happen in 1984, but we seem to be on-track for perhaps 2014.
    • Isaac Asimov - predicted robotic take-over of society by now. Robot capability has not developed nearly to the extent predicted. It may never achieve the level of intelligence forecast; but perhaps by 2050?
    • Arthur C. Clarke - space travel and rational computers as in "2001, A Space Odyssey". HAL, the computer speaking with the spaceship's officers in full inflected voice.

    "Your own list of 2005 futures is arguable - but only the timing. In some cases, the products are here. In other, perhaps a couple of years."

    1. Digital cameras - maybe 2005 will see price parity between film cameras and digital cameras, but probably not until 2007. Then film cameras will disappear like vinyl records and audio cassette tape.
    2. Music downloading - Music publishers will not "get it" and will continue to take their best potential customers to court.
    3. Moore's Law - Nanotechnology will allow this to continue until maybe 2009, when the part dimensions shrink to those of single atoms.
    4. The term VoIP will disappear as the Regional Bell Operating Companies adopt digital technology on their current lines. Some will make major advances in delivery of fiber to the home or to the curb.
    5. Identity and access management - everyone is being tracked We already are, just that we don't know it.
    6. Practical fuel-cells - not in 2005 scope, but maybe in 2007.
    7. The digital home - this was the vision behind Echelon when it was founded in 1988, but it just didn't happen. It seems that WiFi has assumed this role better than LON. Who would have thought?

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Bruce Varley [mailto:bvarley@westnet.com.au] thinks that many Futurists make their "predictions" with a bias:
    "You had mentioned that a recent Wired article suggested that futurists are "loosely informed, jack-of-all-trades, trend-watching pontificators".

    "They may or may not be, but from my perspective that doesn't seem to be the point. What is, is the pervasive, and often subversive role of the market in their activities. An unknown amount of future prediction is driven by people hyping up a field so they can get money. Examples readily spring to mind, and I don't think your column is free of that influence, particularly one or two references that you regularly quote.

    "So I choose my futurists very carefully, and nearly all of them fail the integrity' test, most at a very casual glance."

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Phil Spencer [phillipmarkspencer@bigpond.com] from Australia points out that his country is already seeing the social results of trade with China:
    "America is just starting to realize the scope of the problems it faces with trade dealings with China. Australia has been there and done that over the last 10 or so years, if you want to have a look at what the future holds and see ways on how to cope have a look at what has happened to business in Australia.

    "Manufacturing has moved off shore, Utilities are now owned by the Asians and the only real growth sector is Warehousing and Distribution. And there is worse to come. Having been at the coal face for 14 years I see Australia as a nation of cottage industries in the future. And I fear that the same will be true for the US."

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