JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success™
No. 146 : 2 March 2004

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

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Tom Peters - Hard truths about globalization

I met Tom Peters some 20 years ago, when we were both panelists at an industry conference. His enthusiasm and motivating style were infectious. He gave me a personal copy of his first book, "In search of Excellence" which turned out to be a best-seller, and catapulted him into the top ranks of motivational speakers, gurus of greatness, champions of change.

With all the recent noise about globalization and the migration of manufacturing to China and software to India, Tom Peters has come up with some "Hard Truths". I am summarizing some of them here. Please read them all (weblink below).

Tom Peters' hard truths:

  1. "Off-shoring" will continue; the tide cannot be reversed.
  2. Service jobs are a bigger issue than manufacturing jobs, by an order of magnitude.
  3. The automation of business processes is as big a contributor to job shrinkage as off-shoring.
  4. We are in the middle of a productivity burst which happens every hundred years' (or so). This is good for us - in the long haul.
  5. Job churn is normal and necessary: The more the better - in the long haul.
  6. Americans' "unearned wage advantage" (Born in the U.S.A.) could be erased, permanently.
  7. The impact of the wholesale entry of 2.5 billion people (China & India) into the global economy is unpredictable. It will bring big challenges and amazing opportunities.
  8. Free trade works. Period. It makes the world a safer place - in the long haul. The process is not pretty at times.
  9. Big Companies are off-shoring/automating almost exclusively in pursuit of efficiency and increased shareholder value. This is not new news.
  10. Big companies do not create jobs, and historically have not created jobs. Big companies are not built to last; they are built to decline.

Click Tom Peters' Hard Truths

Click Subscribe to Tom Peters' newsletter and other stuff

Click Carly Fiorina of HP -
"There is no job that is America's God-given right anymore"

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The great DARPA Robot Race - March 13 2004

The "robot race" (first mentioned in eNews Aug. 2003) is near. On March 13, up to 20 robotic vehicles will compete in a $1 million Grand Challenge race sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The winner will be the first machine to cover the still-undisclosed route from somewhere outside Barstow, California, to somewhere in the vicinity of Las Vegas, Nevada, within 10 hours.

No robot has ever done anything like this. Never has an autonomous vehicle gone so far, so fast without any human intervention. It's quite possible that no one will win the inaugural race. There are favorites.

Click The Grand DARPA Challenge

Click Carnegie Mellon team favored in event no one may win

Click Wired - The Great Robot Race

Click $1 million Grand Challenge map leaked on Web

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Google approaches IPO - and after Google what?

Google was founded by 2 Stanford students in 1998, and named after the biggest number they could imagine. Today, it is the world's most-used search engine, handling more than 200 million requests a day. The company has tremendous user loyalty, significant technology, profits, and the promise of growth. And it is just about to make an initial public offering of its stock.

Every few years, a rising superstar goes public in a blaze of headlines and speculation, and in the process mints a few billionaires whose success sways the next generation of risk-takers to jump off similar cliffs. In some exceptional cases - Intel in '71, Apple in '80, Netscape in '95 - a hot IPO can even create a fresh batch of products, companies, and visionaries, all converging to create the next business boom.

Google is already stimulating a whole new series of IPOs - by late January, 26 tech companies were registered with the SEC, waiting for Google to start another "tech-bubble".

Google's "quiet period" has already started. No one is supposed to know the exact IPO date and the offering price. Once a company registers with the SEC to go public, business as usual ceases. Read the Wired story: "GoogleMania!" to see how this transition is affecting Google and the aura surrounding the IPO.

But, as wonderful as Google is, it still has a pretty big flaw. It often delivers far too much information, and a lot of it isn't quite what one was looking for.

Software is now emerging that analyzes search results and automatically sorts them into categories that present far more information than the typical textual list. Several new companies are coming up with ways to file search results in ways that make sense. The filing is done through a combination of linguistic and statistical analysis. Now you don't just get a long list of possibilities, but something genuinely useful.

Click Googlemania! Surviving IPO Fever

Click Googlemaniacs - Nine super-users tell about their Google usage

Click Beyond Google: Narrow the Search

Click Handy little book - Google Pocket Guide

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Book: Bungee Jumping & Cocoons

If you are a marketing person (in the automation business which does very little real marketing) read this book. "Bungee Jumping & Cocoons: The Dual Nature of the Industrial Marketplace" by John Kenworthy.

This is an entertaining and instructive review of markets - primarily the industrial arena, which is where the author has experience. He writes in an amusing narrative style, replete with wonderful examples and verbal illustrations. His theme separates people (and companies) that hide in "cocoons" waiting for a return to "the good old days", from the bold and daring that are willing to do "bungee jumping" to succeed.

John Kenworthy illustrates how these opposing styles play out in the marketplace. His discussions include Walt Disney, Barnes & Noble, Allen-Bradley, among others. He reviews some failed attempts to develop industry-based e-commerce. His commentary and insights are provided without bias against any specific products, systems or companies; just good, marketing wisdom. And he suggests how companies can move beyond current barriers of business maturity, economic transition and societal change.

John Kenworthy has a good knowledge of the subject. He writes well, with examples which are clear and accurate, and yet amusing, to make several very insightful marketing points. His wonderful colloquialisms will confuse anyone's spell-checker, but he gives good marketing advice to an industry that sorely needs it. ,p. This is an entertaining & though-provoking book. Read it!

Click Book: Bungee Jumping & Cocoons

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Pinto editorial - Gay marriage, what is the real issue?

Attitudes toward homosexuality continue to be one of the more complex areas of public opinion. It is now well recognized that this is not deviant behavior, but just the way some people are born. An overwhelming majority of Americans agree that gays should have equal rights - in housing, jobs, public facilities, government benefits, equal protection under the law. Everything!

But, when you get to gay marriage, all the talk of equality stops. At least, that's what the polls "show": that 60-70% of Americans opposes gay marriage, almost the same proportion as those who support gay rights. Does this mean that many of the same people who favor gay rights oppose gay marriage?

Polls? It turns out that one particular poll, which came out in favor (60%) of gay marriage, was quickly annulled. The pollsters claimed that gay-rights people mobilized to skew the poll. So, which polls are accurate? And how many of these polls are skewed to reflect what we are "supposed" to believe?

It's strange how the polls, the litmus tests of democracy, guide, or misguide, our political leaders. At least, until the actual election results truly report the will of the people.

Now, what if 55% of the electorate votes to ban gay marriage? Does that mean that the 45% who voted for it should accept the subjugation of gay rights? And, what if some states were in favor, but some not? This is why the current legal system allows local state rulings to stand.

But now, President Bush seeks to over-rule the judicial process by pushing a "constitutional amendment". And, considering the published polls, how many members of congress would be willing to stand up and be counted as favoring gay marriage? And suppose the constitutional amendment passes - what happens to "human rights" for gays?

The democratic front-runners seem reluctant to stand up for the rights of gays to marriage. Noting the polls, they mouth political weasel words - I support gay "civil unions", but not gay "marriage". I would have to admire a candidate who stood up for gay rights by declaring support, without counting votes.

Think back. Since the start of the Women's suffrage movement in 1776, there was overwhelming opposition in Congress. Steadily, over the years, several states granted women the right to vote. In 1920, when women finally won the right to vote, suppose the President had pushed a constitutional amendment to stop it?

When several states banned slavery, what if there had had been a constitutional amendment to perpetuate it? And what about the black vote? And bi-racial marriage? Why were there not constitutional amendments to stop those?

It was through the conscience of the majority that women and blacks received voting rights. Now, what will that same conscience yield for homosexuals? The constitution guarantees "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". This is for black and white, disabled, mentally handicapped, all races and religions. For everyone. Except for gays who want to get married?

Step back a bit. What is marriage? It is currently defined as "the legal union between a man and a woman". And "Common law" marriage legally protects the rights of couples who are not actually married, but have co-habited for a long time. So, is there common-law marriage for gays? Or, is that just a "common law civil union"?

How many people actually get married these days? How many "shot gun" marriages? And how many people simply live together and then go their separate ways, without bothering first to get married and then divorced? In many European countries, many couples do not even marry until they have children. Even then, many don't bother.

It seems to me that this is all semantics, dating back to customs and conventions that have long been bypassed.

The current noise over gay marriage seems to be an election year attempt by a "moral majority" to disregard human rights for homosexuals. What is the real issue? Is it religious belief? If it is, then why is the President meddling?

These are Thomas Jefferson's words, engraved at the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC:

    "As new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must also advance to keep pace with the times."
My prediction: This political furor is a precursor of things to come in this century - the legalization of marriages between humans and clones, techno-humans, robots, machines. Brave new world!

Click Gay Marriage: The Arguments and the Motives

Click Beyond Gay Marriage

Click Gay Marriage Poll Gets Annulled

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Steve Cuff [SCUFF@Calex.com] is convinced that the current oil crisis is just the start of accelerating depletion:
    "If you think we have an oil shortage now, wait until they build a proper highway infrastructure in India and China and get those folks on wheels. That's 2.5 billion people consuming oil at a prodigious rate.

    "Oil, however, and particularly gasoline is currently the ideal fuel. Great energy per pound, a wide useful temperature range, relatively cheap, widely available and relatively safe to use. As soon as we start to truly exhaust the supply we'll come up with alternative fuels or means of transportation. There are still untold reserves of oil and natural gas in the world, some yet to be discovered or exploited, so it may two or three centuries before we are pressed to use something else.

    "I have an enduring faith in the inventiveness of mankind, to solve the problem. My only regret is that I wont be around to see the innovations the future will bring."

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Mitch Carr [mailto:mitchcarr@msn.com] discusses the applications, and problems, of RFID:
    "Glad to see your item on RFID. It is the most exciting thing to come about since 802.11. The price of the tag is important but equally critical is the price of the scanner. The scanner we bought for demo in 2000 was $5000. I have seen recent price claims of $200.

    "RFID was being pushed hard for retail applications at the register. Wal-Mart has been watched the most closely due to their size. The big incentive for Wal-Mart is to cut down on "shrinkage" - what I call theft. The last figure I heard was $1.2 bn (with a 'b', not an 'm') in pilferage each year for Wal-Mart alone. Gillette and Benetton have done some wonderful trials in England for shelf stocking. They have shown a consistent 15% increase in sales directly linked to utilization of RFID tags for shelf inventory control.

    "The problem - PRIVACY. Since the store does not typically blow them up like they do with the self-resonant RC circuits you find in CD cases, people are concerned that they will be tracked all over town by the RFID police. This is a real shame since the long term benefits to both consumers as well as producers/distributors is staggering. Automated e-commerce, laundry and menu assistance in the home, complimentary goods couponing, etc. One customer remarked that she wanted a scanner at the closet door so she could automatically police what her husband was wearing (a little voice that said, "You're not wearing THAT are you?").

    "Food safety is another big application. The 92 bit code in a typical RFID states manufacturer, product ID and a link to a URL. The URL can contain the entire history of a food product linking it to parent, farm where it was raised, slaughterhouse, refrigeration history, etc.

    "As you mentioned the RFID Journal is a wonderful source of information. They have an e-newsletter that keeps me well up to date on what is going on."

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Dan Greenberg [mailto:dangreenberg@hotmail.com] has a cute story which relates to my recent article on "Buying and selling Time":
    "On your comments about "time is money" - I like the concept of selling time instead of products/services. At the same time, it made me remember something I read in some 25 years. It was a fascinating sci-fi short story where people had forsaken money for time. Your "life savings" was literally that and if your balance reached zero, a small explosive in your jugular would go off. You could lend time, bequeath it, etc. It was a really interesting concept."
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