JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success™
No. 88 : June 16, 2002


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

Contents:
  • Automation Update
    • Yokogawa - a middle-manager viewpoint
    • New Siemens Energy & Automation CEO - from Germany
    • Ed Hurd back at Honeywell IAC??
    • JimPinto.com weblogs
  • Big technologies of the future
  • Teaching a computer to have common sense
  • Google search secrets
  • Relationship management
  • eFeedback:
    • International companies- problems of own narrow perspective
    • Yokogawa doing well in Europe because of local management
    • Lots of feedback on digital cameras vs. film

Automation Updates

Yokogawa - middle management viewpoint
After reading the comments of Chris Carnavos, former head of Yokogawa USA, an ex-Yokogawa-employee (name withheld) wrote:

I worked as a Product Specialist in the Yokogawa Field Instruments group. Maybe a middle management point of view will interest you.

Yokogawa America has many strategic management problems, which directly and indirectly affects their success in the US.

  1. After working as an instrument technician, applications engineer, regional sales manager and product manager, I can truly attest that Yokogawa's field instruments (pressure and temperature transmitters, flow meters, recorders, analytical equipment) are the most robust and possibly most technically superior products in the world. However, their major impediments to growth within the US market continue to be their own management capabilities.
  2. Yokogawa does not seem to be able or willing to learn how to market, sell and promote their products in the USA. Selling through independent Sales Reps is a "foreign" experience for them, (pun intended) even after many years of utilizing this channel. Japanese managers usually have little or no communication with Sales Reps, often giving confusing and unrealistic sales expectations.
  3. As was pointed out, gaining market share at any cost still continues to be a prevalent philosophy. And this usually means price-cutting. Strategic marketing is virtually non-existent. Receiving test, marketing and technical product information from Japan is like "pulling teeth". Helping their US counterparts with customer technical service is not a priority for the Japanese.
  4. Unless your job title includes the word "manager" there is a snide, condescending attitude and tonality in much of the communications. When help is needed in the US, there is an "art" to requesting information from Japan that can improve your chances of actually getting any information back. It is a daily struggle for the US people.
  5. Personnel management: While there are many excellent and competent managers in both the Newnan, Georgia and Houston, Texas locations, there are several managers that are lacking in business and personal interrelationship skills. Those managers are allowed to practice their "personal agendas", going unchecked. Japanese upper management blindly supports them because they rarely take the time to really learn about their personal or professional skills. College degrees and past titles dictate their respect. Unfortunately, this negatively affects business decisions and the treatment of employees.
  6. Contrary to what many Westerners believe, the famous Japanese "humility factor" doesn't seem to apply to their business practices. During the two years while I was employed by Yokogawa America, not once did I hear "We were wrong" or "We are sorry" for any decision that was made when that proved incorrect, or was professionally or personally hurtful.
  7. The famous Japanese "longer term perspective" is a thing of the past - at least in the US. As with many US companies, Yokogawa is unable to manage their focus past each quarter's performance.
Pinto Note:
You might also like to read the feedback/weblog from another ex-Yokogawa employee in the eFeedback section below.

Click JimPinto.com Japan automation players weblog

New German CEO at Siemens Energy & Automation
The following are extracts from a Siemens announcement to "SEA - All E-mail Users" dated Friday, June 14, 2002:
    Subject: SE&A Welcomes Aubert Martin as President & CEO

    Announcement from Dr. Klaus Wucherer, SE&A's Chairman of the Board of Directors.

    "I am pleased to report that Aubert Martin has been named president and chief executive officer of Siemens Energy & Automation (SE&A), effective immediately. He succeeds Richard Buzun, who is retiring.

    Aubert brings to SE&A solid leadership skills and a proven track record with Siemens. He began his professional career with the company in 1967, as an engineering trainee. Since then, he has held a variety of positions of increasing responsibility with Siemens Automation & Drives and Siemens Transportation Systems.

    Aubert will be based at the SE&A corporate headquarters in Alpharetta. Please join me in welcoming him to the Siemens USA team.

    I also want to take this opportunity to thank Richard Buzun for his contributions to Siemens. Please join me in wishing Richard the best of luck."

      (signed) Dr. Klaus Wucherer
      Chairman of the Board of Directors, Siemens Energy & Automation, Inc.
      Member of Managing Board, Siemens AG

JimPinto.com eNews (18 April, 2002) included comments from ex-Siemens senior managers. One of them had predicted (eNews 3 June, 2002) that Richard Buzun would be "going out" soon. He wrote:
    "Confirming that Buzun has 'retired', replaced by Aubert Martin. It looks like the Siemens German brain trust has finally solved the problem of breaking into the US market - they put a German in charge!

    "The new Siemens Energy & Automation marketing slogan will likely be:
    You vill buy Siemens and you vill like it!"

Click Siemens: USA managers' views

Click JimPinto.com Siemens weblog

Honeywell IAC - Ed Hurd is back??
The latest news is that Ed Hurd, former President of Honeywell Industrial Automation & Controls, will return. No first-hand news yet about what exactly his position will be, and how long he will stay. This may just be hopeful speculation by customers and employees.

Ed Hurd, a hands-on Engineer who headed up Honeywell IAC for many years before he retired, was well respected by Honeywell customers and competitors alike. One knowledgeable industry observer commented: "Ed Hurd may be the only person that can possibly fix the mess that has been made of a once great company!"

Remember, you read it here first! Stay tuned!

Click JimPinto.com Honeywell weblog

JimPinto.com weblogs - for YOUR use!
JimPinto.com Weblog provides a channel for inputs, comments, questions, answers on all of the issues discussed in the regular eNews, and on the JimPinto.com website. Read the latest 'chat', or contribute your own comments.

Click Read the Weblogs on Siemens, Yokogawa, Honeywell etc.

Big technologies of the future

When today's tech trends begin to intersect and feed off one another they'll spawn new fields of knowledge that will transform everything. Business 2.0 presents a very forward-looking piece on 8 emerging technologies that will shape the future.

Biointeractive materials: Biologic sensing devices small enough to be on or inside people, animals and plants, monitoring health and acting on problems.

Biofuel production plants: Replacing oil with fuels from genetically engineered crops to reduce emissions and eliminating dependence on foreign oil.

Bionics: Artificial body parts. First-generation bionic devices - pacemakers, implantable defibrillators, hearing aids - have improved thousands of lives. Next-generation bionics will create sophisticated prosthetic limbs and artificial organs.

Cognitronics: Computer-aided telekinesis - uploading consciousness to computers to make knowledge available to everyone. This concept is similar to the brain-plug interface in the movie "The Matrix".

Genotyping: Classifying people based on their genetic source codes to determine what makes each individual unique. The human genome has already been mapped; what remains is to figure out what each gene does, and to isolate genes that play a role in determining physical traits, longevity, susceptibility to disease, etc.

Combinatorial science: Instead of using hypotheses to test theories, powerful computers crunch random solutions to identify potential for positive results. This may do for discovery what Excel did for financial services - rendering complex scenarios at the press of a button.

Molecular manufacturing: Building complex structures, atom-by-atom - molecule-size assemblers that can crank out copies of them selves, and then begin assembling atoms into any material the laws of physics will allow.

Quantum nucleonics: A portable, safe, nonpolluting source of nuclear power; seeking to tap atomic energy without resorting to fission or fusion. This could provide a powerful source of energy that leaves no residual radiation.

In a related article, Forbes Magazine polled twelve scientists, asking each what they thought might be the next big things. This interesting item includes opinions on industries and specific companies to watch.

Click Business 2.0 (June 02)- Eight technologies that will change the world

Click What's Next? Twelve scientists lay odds on the next great inventions

Teaching a computer to have common sense

For almost two decades teams of programmers, linguists, theologians, mathematicians and philosophers have been working on a $60 million project. They've been feeding a database named Cyc (pronounced "psych") 1.4 million truths and generalities about daily life so that it can have common sense. They are working to give Cyc supercharged reasoning abilities to help users work more efficiently, understand each other better and even help them predict the previously unpredictable.

Cyc has already helped Lycos generate more relevant results on its Internet search engine. The military, which has invested $25 million in Cyc, is testing it as an intelligence tool in the war against terrorism. Companies use Cyc to unify disparate databases and are examining a new application that warns when computer networks have vulnerabilities hackers can exploit.

Click Can a PC think for itself?

Google search secrets

For search engines, Google has become the undisputed leader and is a significant tool for finding virtually anything on the Internet. I used to save bookmarks till I realized that page locations often changed. So I simply type the page I want into Google, and get to it fast!

Here are some little-known Google features you might find useful:

  1. You can access Google easily from the JimPinto.com homepage - scroll down to see it. Search the entire web, or just locally within the JimPinto.com website. Want to see all articles relating to say Invensys? Make sure the radio-button is clicked on "Search the JimPinto.com website", enter the word Invensys and click GO! All articles and eNews that include the word Invensys will be listed, with a brief summary. Click on any link to move to that webpage.
  2. If the link to an article has been deleted from a newspaper or magazine website, you might still find it in Google's cache. Click on "cached" under search results to see the version of that page stored on Google's servers.
  3. Google's image-search feature shows you pictures of specific items or people instead of the Web pages. Type in search terms just as you would with a regular search and you can view the pictures alone or as part of the pages where they appear.
  4. If you prefer viewing webpages written in other languages, use Google language tools. You can search for webpages written in a multitude of different languages, or translate any particular page into the language of your choice.

Click Google's secrets

Click Secrets of Google revealed

Click Google Answers - A New Service from Google

Click Google language tools

Relationship management

In the past, information flowed through intermediaries who had direct access to sources of products, services and information. In the post-internet world, this type of intermediary is disappearing rapidly through "disintermediation".

During the last couple of years, large industrial-automation manufacturers who had invested in new Internet sales-channels have found that the knowledge and customer-relationships developed by their sales reps and distributors was hard to replace, and so they have retreated. There are very few instances of success, but only when the products needed very little intermediation and pricing had already degraded to commodity status.

The well-organized sales rep, or high-tech distributor can be the best sales channel in the industrial automation and controls markets. With well-developed relationship management, they can provide the highest value choice for customers and suppliers alike. There is plenty of room at the top for good relationships - and for winners!

My new article was just published (June 2002) by the popular automation website AutomationTechies.com.

Click Read "Relationship management" on Automation Techies.com

Click "Relationship management" on JimPinto.com website

eFeedback

Robert Unseld [r.unseld@mi-verlag.de] wrote concerning "Siemens (and most other international companies, German or not)":
    "Most people know the saying "all business is local". Many in management profess to use this when speaking about business abroad. But, I think almost all don't internalize this and live their business according to it. Because that means you have to forsake nearly all your social and environmental context and acquire a new one. Most people are not able to do that.

    "The solution for being successful elsewhere than your home-market may be to build nearly completely self-running local entities. But that is done rarely, because of the feeling of lack of control and the fear that something will go wrong.

    "A German (or other) management, that is responsible for overseas business will judge the foreign management according to their own values and experiences. If they donít trust the foreign managers to do well (and they won't), they will at least in some proportion try to run the business themselves from outside, which does not work.

    "Americans and Japanese companies all have the same problem (in different shades of gray). Being an international company is not easy if you run it according to the business plan of a big dinosaur. They are all trying to learn how to it better, more decentralized, but that takes time."

Regarding my comments on Japanese companies, a former Yokogawa sales manager (name withheld) wrote:
    "Glad to see you finally wrote a piece on the Japanese automation companies in general and my former employer in particular. I must say you got it pretty much right on.

    "Yokogawa in N. America has been pretty much thrashed because of the Johnson Yokogawa fiasco and the fall out that is continuing, albeit to a lesser degree. Examples are the continuing Sales Rep turmoil in the Chicago area, and the identity crisis with the Systems business and its multiplicity of products and sales channels.

    "A lot of the overseas Yokogawa entities - I had experience with the N. America, UK, Mid. East and Asian offices - suffer from the management rotating door syndrome, as you describe. The exception may be the European operation, headquartered in The Netherlands that has a local (Hans Dik, ex-Foxboro) as their head for a good number of years (~10). There they have a solid local personnel infrastructure and rotate the 2nd management tier expatriates. In my opinion, Yokogawa Europe is relatively successful because of that."

I received a lot of feedback and advice on the choice between digital cameras and film. Brian Blazevic [bblazevic@ucsd.edu] brought up some good points regarding the true benefits of digital cameras and future trends:
    "Digital cameras and printers that cost under $500 don't reproduce the work of a film camera, but why would we want them to? I've decided to do away with printed photo albums. Rather, I store files on my PC indefinitely, and when I choose, I make them available to friends by emailing them and putting them on my Web site.

    "A major benefit of digital photography is the ability to take several photos of any given subject - crucial if one hopes to get a really good one. With film, that's an expensive hassle. Cameras that come with micro drives can store hundreds of high-resolution pictures. Another good thing is the ability to adjust the photos in an editing program. How many times have we had a good shot that was just a little bit too dark? No problem if it's digital.

    "Eventually our thinking, and our lives, will become comfortable with digital - being digital to borrow Nicholas Negroponte's phrase. The benefits of looking at a conventional photo album will shrink in our minds. When friends come over, we can power up the computer and show them a slide show just as easily as flipping through a book (better, actually, because we can add sound clips and a thousand other nice things). At family reunions, we will bring the digital media and show everything on the host's computer or with a wireless connection between our laptop and Web site. The cousins in Munich and Singapore and Moscow can enjoy the same album.

    "For the folks who don't have a computer (have opted out of the digital revolution), we should ask ourselves how we handled people who didn't change from buggies to cars a century ago. All choices are OK, but there's no need to wait for everyone to feel comfortable."

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