JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success™
No. 110 : January 31, 2003

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

  • War - the spectrum of opinion
  • Internet security 2003 - look for viruses, spams and scams
  • Future vision - A day at the office in 2013
  • Recession clears out competitors
  • Weblogs: The virtual soapbox
  • eFeedback:
    • War - how do you stop a bully?
    • Dick Morley on technology trends
    • Cloning and the progress of society

War - the spectrum of opinion

My editorial comments: World conscience awakens brought a flurry of feedback - from all segments of the spectrum. Some wondered why I would want to mix my automation news and technology-trends with political commentary. To those I respond: I cannot "fiddle while Rome is burning". I would feel I was asleep if I was commenting about mergers and marketing, without voicing my own concern about real-time, important events. Hey! If you don't want to read my comments, simply scroll down to the next item.....

Some people protested that I was a 'bleeding liberal'. They felt that the anti-war demonstrators were not the 'world conscience' but only rabble-rousers and America-haters. Actually, I researched the mix: sure, there were many troublemakers; but the overwhelming majority was everyday people, just like you and I. And there were many who were vocal on the point that Saddam Hussein should be removed, but by other means than war.

Others echoed with my fears that the Iraqi conflict would escalate into a worldwide conflagration and an even more rampant terrorist backlash. And yet others (many from other countries) were surprised that there was a 'pacifist' side to the American culture.

Let me share these thoughts with you:

I find it interesting that many of us instantly fall (place ourselves) into a specific segment. The far right instantly brings up comparisons of Saddam with Hitler and Pol Pot, and demands to know why anyone would wish to allow their brutal regimes to remain in power. Dissent is labeled as un-patriotic and naive.

At the other extreme are the anti-war advocates - a flashback to the '60's! I must point out that I am not a pacifist; I do indeed recognize that force is sometimes necessary to remove brutal dictatorships. One hopes that the world community, though the UN, will act quickly and sensibly.

In an unstable world, America is clearly the strongest world power. If we go to war unilaterally, many will perceive us as a bully, with just support of a few 'allies' who fall in line to gain the bully's brownie points. Our power must be used wisely.

There were too many responses for me to even try to summarize here. But, I have responded to each message individually, with appreciation that each point of view made me reflect on my own position, and change it - even if ever so slightly.

I ask you to think about this: How do you make up your mind? And, do you sometimes CHANGE your mind? How does change happen? Are you thinking for yourself? Or, are you simply too busy to think about these things? So then, who does your thinking for you?

For me, these are though-currents facilitated by email and the Internet, strengthening the winds of change, perhaps sowing the seeds of solutions that may quell the gathering storm.

Click War on Iraq - the gathering storm

Click Transition to a very different future

Click Uneasy Thanksgiving in a precarious world

Internet security 2003

2003 is just a month old and already there has been yet another major virus-attack (the SQL virus) that shut down a lot of major banking and business systems worldwide. Security administrators have to stave off a continuous stream of virus threats such as the Sobig worm, the Lirva worm, and remnants of the Yaha virus. Malicious code attacks are expected to run rampant in 2003, with the problem getting ever worse.

Some viruses have staying power: the Klez virus began in April 2002 and is still causing trouble. It has easily topped the charts as the number one virus of the past year. New versions are still emerging, trying to outsmart antivirus software.

One in every 200 e-mails sent last year contained a computer virus, and one in 3 e-mails was unsolicited spam. The most worrying trend is spam e-mails combined with viruses, making spam more difficult to detect and more dangerous.

The virus-to-e-mail ratio is growing worse, mainly because many users don't keep their security up to date. Popular viruses include copying your e-mail address as the "sender" and deleting installed desktop antivirus software.

And there are scam-spams, like the by-now well-known Nigerian scam that has spread to all parts of the world. A senior Nigerian "official" asks your help to transfer millions of dollars. Nigerian scam operations employ thousands of people, and will gross over $2b in 2003.

These software and email vulnerabilities will force ever-greater counter measures in coming years. On a personal level, my suggestion is to stick with the major anti-virus software standards: Norton or MacAfee. Get regular upgrades and automatic daily updates to assure that you are as well protected as possible. And hey! Don't mess with mega-money transfers....

Click Security predictions 2003: Future not so bright

Click Spam, and blended spam/virus are top e-mail dangers

A day at the office in 2013

Here is a vision of your day at the office a decade from now - 2013. (summarized from the article by Dan Farber, ZDNET link below).

It's 7:00 am and you park your car in the company garage. An embedded sensor confirms that you have arrived and are parked in your assigned spot. As you reach the lobby, the door opens automatically as your RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tag and facial patterns are recognized.

You move to the cafeteria to get your coffee - the coffee maker knows your preferences (again from your RFID) and starts making your special blend. The fee for the coffee is automatically charged to your account. As you walk to your office, you scan your wrist-PDA for your latest messages - sensors in your eyeglasses allow scrolling without pushing any buttons.

The door to your office opens on your voice command. Your office has large, wall-mounted displays; one recognizes you and brings up your portal, showing the latest business intelligence, task lists, and calendar for the day. Your hardware and software configuration has already been checked for synchronization and vulnerabilities against the latest viruses.

You review a report that shows your performance against budget for various activities. You are also informed that in the last 30 days you spent 6% of your time browsing non-authorized Web locations, 23% in videoconferences, 1.3% in the lavatory, and 6% in the cafeteria. Your budget is metered by the minute.

You are reminded that the spam-removal system has removed 42.3 GB of spam from your inbox, but that 23 messages are still in an auto-deletion holding pattern, awaiting your review. You have also broken security policy by taking 11 classified documents from your office to your home. All of this is communicated to your manager.

You then click into a videoconference with your team, scattered around the globe, to get a status report on your most important projects. You click into a hard day's work....

In a similar vein, you might like to visit "Cooltown" - Hewlett-Packard Lab's vision of a technology future where everyone and everything is connected to the Web through wired or wireless links. Humans are mobile, appliances are connected, services are everywhere and everything has a Web page.

In Cooltown, technology transforms human experience from consumer lifestyles to business processes that enable mobility. Cooltown is infused with the energy of the online world. Web-based appliances and e-services give you everything you need when and where you need it - for work, play, life.

Cooltown is a responsive world of mobile services with clear, creative thinking about technology. This gives insight into the future of mobility, how technology will be used to transform business and stimulate opportunities.

Click HP Cooltown

Click BBC News - Digital Lifestyle on Display

Click A day at the office in 2013

Recession clears out competitors

If you're a Marketing maven and have not read Geoffrey Moore's books, then go read - I mean NOW!

Moore's "chasm" theory describes how high-tech products initially sell well, mainly to visionaries and early adopters, but then hit a lull as they try to cross the chasm to mainstream buyers. Moore describes how to move slowly through the gulf, by focusing on specific segments of the market rather than trying to waste time and money by jumping right into the mainstream. This updated edition of the 1991 classic is a MUST-READ for all Marketing people.

In a recent RedHerring article (summarized here), Geoffrey Moore points out the good things about a downturn:

  • It teaches us who we really are.
  • The actual takes precedence over the possible.
  • We find all kinds of opportunities we never saw before.
Companies that are surviving have redefined themselves to provide specific answers customer problems. Even well established Agilent Technologies (previously the non-computer part of Hewlett-Packard) has refocused its business. Instead of emphasizing fancy new optical-networking technologies, it is concentrating on areas where money can be made: helping telecom companies upgrade their wireless networks to third-generation wireless technology. It's all about focus, but the customer's fingers are twisting the lens.

Downturns also teach us a whole different way to approach competition. During a boom, many successful companies navigate primarily by watching their competitors and then heading off their attacks. But in a downturn, you watch your customers and create value for them.

Consider Cisco Systems. At the height of the boom, for a short time, its market capitalization topped $600 billion, making it the most highly valued company in the world. At that time its market cap was equal to the sum of its top 4 competitors. In 2001, its market cap had been cut in half, but was equal to the sum of its top 10 competitors. Today CISCO's market cap has been halved again, but is still equal to 5 times the sum of its top 10 competitors.

All Cisco had to do was let the technology recession clear the field of competition. Of course, the competition may turn around when the boom arrives - but that is another story.

So, Moore says, that's the ultimate lesson of a downturn - let your customer value define your company!

Click RedHerring: Geoffrey Moore on 'Busting out':

Click Geoffrey Moore's Book: Crossing the Chasm

Weblogs - the virtual soapbox

Weblogs, or "blogs" are spreading like wildfire across the Internet. They provide a soapbox on which to sound off on whatever bothers you, or excites you. Most people agree that these regularly updated online diaries are having major impact.

"Bloggers" (the people who post blogs), write frequently on specific topics, logged along with comments from others on those same topics. Blogs tend to be highly personal, running the gamut from short musings to complaints and suggestions. Commentary boards on Yahoo and other places on the web are not quite the same. Weblogs are reviewed (for appropriate content) by one or more moderators.

Many people think that weblogs caused majority leader Trent Lott to lose his job. The media largely ignored Lott's remarks at Strom Thurmond's birthday party. But the weblogs, both liberal and conservative, talked up the incident and kept it alive.

The JimPinto.com website includes several popular weblogs on different topics (see Index link below). The weblogs on major companies are unique to the automation business; traffic has grown to thousands of page-views per day. These weblogs are read and updated regularly by lots of people - employees (current, ex- and prospective), managers, executives, competitors, industry analysts, recruiters, press people, marketers.

The blogs for some of the companies under fire (Rockwell and Invensys, for example) tend to be the most active. News about the acquisition of Rockwell Automation by Eaton is eagerly awaited; perhaps the only place where you can find the latest updates (from insiders, employees, distributors, financial analysts) is the JimPinto.com Rockwell weblog. The Invensys weblog seems to be the best place where employees can sound off, and that weblog is always one of the most active.

Please note that we do NOT simply log every message that arrives - content is monitored carefully. Personal comments, pure gossip or hearsay are excluded. The names of bloggers are not published (to avoid punitive action) unless specifically authorized. To stop the weblogs from becoming primarily a complaint channel, we have tried hard (with judicious editorials) to stimulate positive responses from motivated employees and managers. Let me encourage more senior people to take that bold step; I assure you that your employees will appreciate your message.

I understand from insiders that executives and HR people in all the major automation companies monitor JimPinto.com weblogs regularly. If the top people are not reading the blogs, they should!

Click Blog trend provides virtual soapbox

Click JimPinto.com weblog index


On the issue of war with Iraq, David E. Rapley [davidrapley@qwest.net] responded:
    "Jim, I really enjoy your articles but a recent statement worries me. 'Peace is the natural and sincere wish of every normal man and woman.' There are hundreds of thousands who don't share our idea of what constitutes 'normal'. Their avowed intent is the destruction of the US and our allies. They don't share our values. Their primary wish is certainly NOT peace on earth.

    "How do you reason with someone who delights in hurting you? I remember the school bully who delighted in picking on me. No amount of reasoning made any difference, in fact he saw it as a sign of weakness. When my older brother discovered what was going on, he grabbed the bully by the scruff of the neck and told him to stop. He never bothered me again. Are there times when you have to meet violence with violence? Hitler couldn't be swayed by words or discussions.

    "I will pray with you that we don't have to go to war to solve the problem."

Regarding technology trends, Dick Morley wrote:
    "Many times we pick the technologies that are mechanically oriented, i.e., those things which we can couple to with common sense. Quantum cryptography is one of the few that is not along those lines. We can't touch it - it's high-tech but not high-touch.

    "Recently on the Learning Channel, their Top 10 included super airplanes, super bridges, robots that walk (like the Honda robot), etc. There were very few software technologies, or modeling technologies or intellectual or science technologies. Kind of a pity.

    "I have found that in predicting technology, two sources are reliable: Popular Science and science fiction. When I was a child, I could not believe they would have highways in the sky - elevated highways going through the cities. The ideas of synchronous satellites and submarines and moon shots all came from science fiction.

    "Science fiction has the advantage that is does not change the landscape to fit around today's technology; rather it modifies the technology to fit into the future landscape."

On the subject of cloning and the progress of society, Ralph Mackiewicz [remccm@mackiewicz.org] commented on some of the recent e-feedback comments:
    "It seems clear that the real driving force behind human cloning is affluent society pushing for a solution to otherwise intractable fertility problems, not some gruesome desire to grow body parts. Both current and common law is pretty clear about this facet of life: a person that emerges from the womb is a person, regardless of the source of their DNA. There is no way that anybody, clone or not, could be legally deprived of their organs without a major rewrite of the law.

    "An objective observation of the evolution of society from its primitive feudal beginnings - witch doctors, kings, barons, and lords - to modern societies that exist across the globe today, indicates a clear trend away from an elitist-controlled world to one where the power rests in the individual. There is a lot farther to go and the challenges are plenty. But, the path has been towards individual liberty. There are millions upon millions of people that don't enjoy the blessings of liberty, and as a result live in poverty, disease, and famine. Instead of trying to stop the technological progress that God gave us the power to achieve, because of fictional paranoid sci-fi scenarios, we should be trying to free these millions of people that are forced to live in poverty, disease and famine, by evil tyrants and dictators."

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