JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success™
No. 157 : 1 July 2004


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

Contents:
Click on any item to jump directly to that item

Invensys COO - big bucks, no sizzle

Here's me picking on Invensys again. It's so eminently pickable....

After paying a too-high price to reduce Invensys' debt, Rick Haythornthwaite (looking for an exit) has now paid big bucks to get a new COO, his CEO-in-waiting. The new hired-gun received a "golden hello" worth more than 2 million in cash and shares. Wow!

Ulf Henriksson will get 600,000 in cash, 4 million restricted shares worth 730,000, 5 million share options, plus $270,000 in cash to make up for the bonus accrued at Eaton (his previous employer), plus up to 525,000 in relocation expenses. Invensys considered "such awards to be essential to securing the services of Mr. Henriksson".

Ulf Henriksson's basic salary has been set at 525,000, compared with Rick Haythornthwaite's 660,000 last year. Plus he will get 35% of his salary as a "pension supplement". Plus, he will also participate in the executive bonus scheme and the long-term incentive plan. He is supposed to pay back up to 350,000 if he resigns within the first three years. Hmmmm....

It's interesting that no one seemed to know much about Ulf Henrikson before he joined on 21 May 2004. Nervous Invensys employees were lining up for their first meetings, with very little to go by. Then his first memo to all employees came out. Judging by that, there's not much to judge.

On the Invensys weblog, one disillusioned Foxboro employee quipped:

    "Thanks for the great ideas Ulf! Lets see if I got this straight. So what we need to do is keep our customers happy, get more orders, do things on time and to budget, negotiate better procurement deals, be good leaders and make sure our customers pay on time. Gee, wish we'd thought of that before. This inspired, lateral thinking is exactly what we need at this time."
An Invensys analyst had this to say:
    "My initial thoughts are that Ulf stepped into a no-win scenario (probably motivated by $$$ and adding to his resume). This first, key opportunity to set a new leadership tone sounds more like reconstituted text-book-speak. Ulf's poor word-smithing will not save Invensys. Leadership, innovation and bold risk-taking might.

    "Invensys employees are rolling their eyes. And Invensys competitors must, again, be pleased this day!"

Click UK Observer - New Invensys boss to get 2m

Click Read complete Ulf Henriksson memo on the Invensys weblog

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The future is nearer than it appears

Last month I brought up M2M - machine-to-machine interface - machines that connect via the Internet. A lot of people agree that this is already becoming a BIG market.

Here's an interesting point - when connected to the Internet, a machine does not have to stand alone, it can connect seamlessly to remote intelligence when needed. This will create machines that understand and even anticipate needs.

Several technologies now advancing to the practical and economical level which will bring everyday life to a whole new level of functionality. Powerful trends are already driving these advances into the mainstream. In the next decade, this will transform everyday life.

Soon awkward keyboard or push-button interface will disappear as speech recognition becomes commonplace. High-end automobiles (and cell phomnes) already have some of this functionality. Soon you'll be able to talk to your washing-machine, refrigerator and other home appliances. You'll not only be able to tell your TV which program to select, it will remember your favorite channels, will switch to HBO when it's time for your movie, and will switch channels during commercials.

When my computer failed the other day, I called Sony Service. It took me a while to recognize that I was talking not to a person, but a machine. When I traveled to Santa Barbara by train this week, a virtual salesperson named Julie told me the train schedules, made my reservations, and accepted my credit card for my tickets. Amtrak is saving money by using Julie.

The prices of flat wall monitors will soon reduce to levels where they will proliferate, hanging on the wall in every room as a conversational human-machine interface. Ask the computer anything - it will look up Google and tell you the answer. Like StarTrek!

Click Google On The Future Of Enterprise Search

Click The Promise of Smart Computers and E-Commerce

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Wearable cell phones

Tiny cell phones woven into clothing, or worn as wrist-watches and jewelry are already fashionable in Europe and the Far East.

It should be noted that the US is the biggest market; but, early products can only be made in smaller volumes, so suppliers seem to test market in smaller markets first, before attempting US launch.

Over the years, the cell phone has gone through a transformation. Just over a decade ago, the bulky Motorola portable, sometimes slung over the shoulder in a carry-bag, was not uncommon. Since then, the cell phone has become tiny, ubiquitous and multi-purpose - not only can you talk, but you can also send text messages, send and receive music, pictures, video clips, play games by yourself, or with remote players. Of course, you pay for all this functionality - but it's amazingly cheap! It's interesting that one of the highest income generators for cell phone companies is "ring-tones" - to make your gadget meow, bark or warble when a call comes in.

Now, get ready for wearable cell phones. Soon you'll have a choice of cell phones that are also watches, bracelets, jacket lapels, hats - all to make a fashion statement. But there is good functionality too. A phone stitched into clothing, or wrapped around a wrist, can no longer be left behind in a restaurant. Plumbers and electricians won't have to drop their tools to answer a call. Some wearable phones have personal emergency alarm features - if the phone is squeezed, it automatically dials 911 and provides its exact location with built-in GPS.

Nokia plans to begin selling its Imagewear line of digital necklaces and chokers in the US at the end of June. The necklaces' medallions will store and display up to eight photos, snapped by a Nokia camera phone and uploaded into the necklace wirelessly via Bluetooth.

Market analysts predict that 20% of US cell-phone users will used as part of clothing within 2-3 years.

Click Business Week - Your Lapel Is Ringing:

Click IBM Gets Fashionable With Wearable Cell Phone

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"Automation Unplugged" is ISA best-seller for 2003

"AUTOMATION UNPLUGGED" WINS ISA BEST-SELLER AWARD FOR 2003 I am happy to share the news with you that my book, "Automation Unplugged: Pinto's Perspectives, Pointers & Prognostications" sold the most units of any book published by ISA in 2003.

I have been awarded the "Raymond D. Molloy Award", presented by the ISA Publications Department to the author of the best-selling new ISA book of the previous year.

If you haven't already seen the book, you can look it up on my website. Your feedback will be appreciated.

Click "Automation Unplugged" - read the table of contents

Click How and where to buy "Automation Unplugged"

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Editorial - the corruption of Democracy in America

How many people in America think that their vote really matters? Judging by voter participation, only about half - the US ranks 139 among the world's 172 democracies. Only about 54% of eligible voters in the US cast their ballots during the last 4 decades of presidential elections. Compare that to 90% in Italy, 80% in Germany, 76% in France and Canada, 75% in Britain and 71% in Japan.

What is amazing is how little has changed in our voting process since November 2000. The underlying problems that led to the Presidential election crisis 4 years ago still exist and may stretch on for years. It is very disturbing!

Political "marketing" has the country split into politically polarized regions. Republicans dominate "Red" states while Democrats control "Blue" states. The number of "swing" states has dwindled to 17 or 18 - effectively disenfranchising millions of voters in the "already decided" areas. If you don't live in any of the 17 "battleground" states, your vote is virtually ignored for the Presidential race.

Inside the Red and Blue zones, political competition is systematically being eliminated as the major parties redesign congressional district lines into safe havens for incumbents. This is called "gerrymandering". This year, only 35 seats out of 435 are even remotely up for grabs. The result: growing voter disenchantment over the lack of choice. Another sign that democracy is in trouble.

To make things worse, the Electoral College system makes more fiascos like the 2000 presidential election very possible. With a close race, either Presidential candidate could win the popular vote while losing in the Electoral College. This kind of result will inevitably bring yet another crisis of legitimacy.

A lot of Americans still question the outcome of the last election. After the Florida supreme court had decided on a re-count which would probably have handed Florida to Gore, the US Supreme Court stopped the re-count, with a clearly partisan majority. Read Supreme Court Justice Breyer's dissenting opinion (weblink below), to understand the looming crisis.

Solutions:

  • The Electoral College system was conceived by the Founding Fathers two centuries ago, to preserve the power of small agricultural and slave-owning states. Direct popular-vote elections, or proportional voting for Electoral College representatives, are long overdue.
  • The strange method which the parties use to select a presidential candidate must be changed. Two tiny states (Iowa and New Hampshire, not really representative of the population at large) distort the entire race.
  • Dependable electronic voting technology must be implemented. Many countries have done it successfully (including India, the world's largest democracy). With all our technological prowess, why can't the US do it?
  • In this latest Presidential race, the candidates will be spending $500 million between them, with the clear intention of modifying public opinion. Based on "marketing" analysis, attacks are carefully crafted to polarize the electorate. This is shameful and degrading!
The US is burdened by a political system that is less democratic than ever. This is an urgent priority!

Click Business Week - Does Your Vote Matter?

Click NY Times - To Fix a Broken Election System

Click Supreme Court of the United States - Breyer dissenting

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eFeedback

My friend, deep thinker and writer, Merle Borg [merleborg@cox.net], had this to say about "the 10 top ways to win against terrorism":
    "It was sadly noted that in the ten innovations to win the war on terrorism, the elimination of oppression and poverty wasn't even mentioned. The list shows a complete failure to understand what is happening. Suicidal terrorism is the ultimate act of despair. People seeing no hope for themselves or their families will consider sacrificing themselves for the common good. In many cases it is an act of love, not of hate. Religion helps, but it isn't required. Bravery is.

    "Self-sacrifice is the only honorable option left to people being subjugated by superior weapons. Settlers displacing American Indians developed repeating firearms to solve the issue of terrorist natives. We now are developing robotic weapons to deal with Arabs protecting their lands. Do we expect to also massacre 80% of them?

    "Short of genocide there is no workable defense against suicidal terrorism. Only with the elimination of trade and travel could it be attempted and in a global economy, that is impossible. Israel is slowly realizing this and after the coming terrorist attacks in this country, and more brutal and failed responses, we will finally accept it too.

    "We are participant to the slow and bloody end of colonialism. Fairness and decency between nations regardless of their strength will one day prevail, not because it should, but because in an interconnected world there is no choice.

    "My article (weblink below) attempts to put this in a more historical perspective."

Click Read Merle Borg's article "Watching Gravity"

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Michael Poland [mpoland@methven.net] from New Zealand:
    "I've just finished reading Goodstein's book, 'Out of Gas'. Very interesting and a bit of a wake up call. I found it all very believable and disheartening. It seems to me that it is extremely unlikely that any one in a position of power will sit up and recognize the problem before it becomes a crisis. Lets face it, politicians thrive on crises. That leaves the consumer population with the responsibility to take actions, which they can't do unless there is a general understanding of the issues, a general understanding that comes only with education.

    "I do not see any such educational material being using within the primary or secondary education systems. 'Out of Gas' clearly explains the issues and is a short and easy read, perfect to catch the attention of a busy population. If Goodstein wrote this book in order to attempt to make some difference he will fail as the numbers who will read it are too small unless he can get it into some broad book reviews. He may improve the chances if he is prepared to release the text on the web and make it accessible to a wider population."

Click Read Goodstein's book: "Out of Gas":

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Lee White [lee9w@earthlink.net] dared me to print his response to my editorial, "That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!" So, here it is - unedited.
    "So tell me, which is Bush: A) An evil conniving mastermind, plotting war against Iraq from Jan 22, 2001? or B) An idiot businessman/rancher who somehow bluffed/bought his way into winning the election in November 2000?

    "On your points:

    1. Mr. Bush WAS elected fairly. (Were there discrepancies in the election - yes. But they were always there before as well. When it comes down to it, the votes were there to swing Florida, and that WAS and electoral victory. If you want a pure democracy, then tell us where in the world you'd rather be!
    2. The world still admires America, for the most part. There will ALWAYS be those jealous, envious and critical of our success and wealth, just as there will always be those who desire a piece of that success without despising it.
    3. WMD's were found in Iraq, but in limited quantities. Some have yet to be discovered, or may have been spirited away to Saddam-friendlies before the war started. Bill Clinton acknowledges they were there, so where are they now? Chemical processing labs were discovered, out of commission, seemingly "relocated". (What kind of weapons were being launched at our bases in Kuwait and Southern Iraq at the start of the war - WLD's (Weapons of little destruction)?
    4. Iraq had links to Al-Qaeda. That has been further disclosed this week. So your editorial is a little out of date aye?
    5. The heightened terrorist activities have been taking place in Iraq and Afghanistan, and not the US, haven't they? So isn't that the definition of the phrase "taking the war to their own soil"? Would you rather they had free movement throughout the world and America?
"Undoubtedly, the November performance evaluation will be quite interesting for all to behold. Let's all just hope and pray that we don't have another fiasco as we did in 2000!"

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