JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success™
No. 241 : 15 November 2007

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

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13 mins.

Who will GE acquire?

You know the expression, "A rising tide floats all boats". Well most industrial automation companies are doing well now, and this signals the distinct possibility that more major acquisitions are in the wind.

Rockwell Automation 07 revenue was up 10% at $5B with income of $ 600M. With some questionable acquisitions in the UK, now the subject of angry rants (from disgruntled employees who have no other way to vent) on the JimPinto.com weblogs. Rockwell is an acquisition target for either ABB or GE.

ABB has a lot of process systems (via Bailey, and other acquisitions) but not much of the PLC-base that Rockwell brings. Unless Rockwell itself makes a BIG acquisition soon (not the systems integrators and minor plays it has made recently) it'll become a bite for the biggies.

Meanwhile, GE has GE-Fanuc (PLCs and software from the Intellution and other acquisitions) but no DCS process systems. Invensys is dangling in the wind, within reach.

Click GE-Fanuc Automation website

Click Rockwell Weblog - read latest & include your own comments

Click GE Fanuc Takes Aim at Process Automation with Proficy

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Invensys dangling in the wind

Invensys had revenues of £543M for Q2, up 5%, with profit of £59M, improving slightly from 10.5 to 10.9%. Invensys Process Systems (IPS) revenues increased £190M to £205M, with profit of £26M, up from £23M.

One current underground drumbeat has GE acquiring somebody in the $500M to $1B range. This can only be the hardware parts of Invensys - Foxboro, Triconex, Eurotherm.

After just selling off APV (an unrelated orphan) to SPX for £250M Invensys may be positioning itself as a pure software & services play. Of course, in the meantime, it still has to dispose of its other problem child - the Controls Division.

Meanwhile, Foxboro is in turmoil after new CEO Paulett Eberhart decided to move the IPS HQ to Dallas, Texas. Heck, popular IPS President Mike Caliel should have considered this as an alternative; he was commuting to his home in Dallas, before he exited to run his own show.

With the latest Dallas move, many long-term Foxboro people were exited, including most of MarCom. But, perhaps most painful was the exit of popular Ken Brown, long-time Foxboro stalwart and Acting President. Many felt that he was the obvious choice when the surprise appointment of outsider Eberhart was announced.

Meanwhile, Wonderware president Mike Bradley was also exited. On receiving the instant bush-telegraph announcement via the JimPinto.com weblog, I spoke with Mike, who handled the whole thing with great professionalism. He lauded his replacement, Sudipta Bhattacharya, who had just recently joined (senior VP of SAP) reporting to Mike, who hired him.

General impressions (at Wonderware and outside the company) are that Sudipta is a good man. It remains to be seen how he gets on with CEO Ulf Henrikkson, to whom he reports directly - not via IPS President Paulett Eberhart.

Wonderware's InTouch 10.0 and System Platform 3.0 were recently described by Mike Bradley as "the most important announcements in Wonderware's 20 year history". In the word of one industry guru: "It would be easier to sell InTouch and InFusion if they didn't have to drag around Foxboro".

Stay tuned....

Click Takeover talk helps Invensys engineer a rise

Click Invensys shares tumble on Q3 outlook

Click Invensys Weblog - read latest & include your own comments

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November 2007 DARPA Robot Race

This month (November 07) 11 robotic vehicles participated in the latest Urban Challenge sponsored by DARPA, the Pentagon's research wing. This was a milestone event demonstrating robotic cars' ability to follow complex routes and negotiate traffic completely under their own control.

The winners were decided based on ability to steer safely around an abandoned military base, traveling autonomously for 6 hours and 60 miles. A sports utility vehicle nicknamed "Boss", developed at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, won the $2M first prize. Stanford University, which won the 2005 race, came in second and Virginia Tech was third. Only 6 of 11 finalists finished the course.

$3.5 million in prizes were offered to jumpstart robotics developers and help fulfill the official US "mandate" that one-third of all military vehicles be unmanned by 2015.

The race really showed how far away that goal still is: At one point, two robotic SUVs collided. Another mistook a driveway for a road. One came within inches of plowing into a concrete pillar and had to be taken off the course.

Taken together, all of these imperfections prove that the dream of a totally driverless fleet of military vehicles is still too technically complex. But what DARPA's race really demonstrated is that robotic driving technology is ready to work together with human drivers - not replace them.

Click 'Aggressive but safe' SUV wins robotic street race

Click A Land Rover That Drives Itself

Click Riding With Robots 2.0

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Religious Conflicts - when will they ever end?

I can't think of ANY conflict in the world today that involves anything other than Religion. But perhaps it's just cultural conflict under the convenient guise of Religion.

Here's a list of the top-12 world religions Source: Adherents.com

  1. Christianity: 2.1 billion (1.1 billion Catholics)
  2. Islam: 1.5 billion
  3. Secular/Nonreligious/Agnostic/Atheist: 1.1 billion
  4. Hinduism: 900 million
  5. Chinese traditional: 394 million
  6. Buddhism: 376 million
  7. Primal-indigenous: 300 million
  8. African Traditional & Diasporic: 100 million
  9. Sikhism: 23 million
  10. Juche: 19 million
  11. Spiritism: 15 million
  12. Judaism: 14 million
It's interesting to note that Judaism accounts for only 14 million - some 50% less even than Sikhism.

Sadly, the world's two largest religions, Christianity and Islam seem to be increasingly in conflict.

Tom McFaul, professor of ethics and religious studies, explores 3 possible scenarios regarding whether world religions will bring greater peace and justice or more hatred and hostility.

  • Scenario 1 - Exclusivism: I'm Right and You're Wrong
  • Scenario 2 - Pluralism: Despite Differences, We Can Live Together
  • Scenario 3 - Inclusivism: We're Becoming One Family
McFaul concludes, "The most probable future is this: From now until 2025, Exclusivism will increase. Between 2025 and 2050, Pluralism will gradually replace it."

Beyond this futile futurist thinking, today the mass of humanity continues to subsist on the edge of starvation, largely ignored by the media and the wealthy, and catered to only by extremists, religious zealots and political demagogues who incite ever more dangerous unrest. Within the next few years, perhaps decades, these worlds will collide.

While disaster looms, the vast majority remains silent, feeling like helpless onlookers completely incapable of doing anything. And this leaves the minority fringes, the extremists, those who are willing to sacrifice everything - even their lives, acting from an utter sense of despair.

The conventional hard solutions are completely inadequate - tanks and warplanes cannot stop suicide bombers. The war with Iraq, and now the possibility of conflict with Iran, clearly runs the risk of being the fuse that ignites far greater conflagrations. The world understands only the two obvious possible motivations - Religion, or Oil.

How many millions must die before the paradigm shifts? What is the catalyst that will signal the recognition that no one is right or wrong?

Click Handling conflicts in religious beliefs;
Past conflicts that have been settled

Click Center for Reduction of Religious-Based Conflict

Click Religions are a divisive force in the world

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Who cares? American Apathy

I had a LOT of feedback on my complaints about the quiet Generation-Q. Some even thought I was inciting another Kent State rebellion - which I wasn't. I was simply pointing out that today's young people make their protests via websites and blogging, when more in-your-face activism is needed.

But "activism" on what? Today in the US, there are many real and serious threats to our way of life. But many people, perhaps even most, are apathetic. We just don't seem to care enough to really DO anything about anything.

We are surrounded by a cacophony of bad news and warnings - future social-security bankruptcy, education and health-care decline, terrorism, the Iraqi war, Iran going nuclear, nuclear-powered Pakistan on the brink, global warming, AIDS in Africa, genocide in Darfur - the list goes on.

Activism on any one issue is rendered futile when overshadowed by too many others. It's just too much. So no one cares enough to do anything. That's Apathy, says Shannon Hays in a recent American Mensa magazine, "It is symptomatic of an insidious general malaise, rooted in a disturbing national detachment".

Perhaps most of us simply don't see what WE ourselves can do to change anything. And so we do nothing. We wait, expecting that today's worry will be forgotten after tomorrow's new bad news. And so important, major long-term issues like global-warming and social-security-bankruptcy are shelved for future generations to worry about.

The basic cause of Apathy is that most people are too busy with whatever they are busy with to DO anything. America's middle-class, the largest population segment, seriously threatened in a system dominated by the wealthy minority, can change everything through the democratic process. But it is manipulated into neutralizing itself by dividing its vote. Democracy rests with the undecided; and that instant-indecision is manipulated by money and media.

Then there's the problem of low voter turnout, another sign of Apathy. 50% simply don't bother to vote; 64% of voters aged 18-24 don't vote. And so change rests with the remainder. And they are split on the issues, leaving confused political candidates flip-flopping while they try to attract the undecided middle on the advice of their "handlers".

Who cares? About what?

Click The Opposite of Good is Apathy

Click Voter Apathy: The Missing Half of America

Click Voter apathy still plagues young Americans

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My neighbor Wade Lovell [success@ceoathome.com] describes the wonderful volunteer spirit during the recent S. California firestorms:
    "Tuesday afternoon, after my family returned from the mandatory evacuation, I set about compiling a list of items reportedly required at various local evacuee shelters. Evacuation centers required bedding for seniors taken in from nursing homes, others needed bedding and clothing; others were cold and asked for blankets or sleeping bags. The places where evacuees could take large animals were filling up and owners had to stay with their animals. Qualcomm Stadium reportedly needed just about everything – food, paper products, chairs, clothing, bedding, etc.

    "After gathering bags of clothing, bedding, eight sleeping bags, and cash, I set out like Santa on my rounds. What I found: Some centers were accepting money donations, but most said they had everything they could use. Not just the minimum or just the basics, but everything. At Qualcomm stadium I found an army of volunteers sorting a mountain of donations and an hour-long line of people waiting to contribute. The excess was going straight to the Salvation Army for redistribution.

    "I returned home with an incredible sense of awe and a renewed faith in my neighbors. Where else besides America’s Finest City could 300,000 people be evacuated and then be supplied through donations with everything the evacuation centers required within 24 to 48 hours? I have been smiling and thinking of other ways to help ever since."

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Chet Namboodri [cnambood@cisco.com] of CISCO commented on my views of CISCO involvement in the "wireless wars":

    "We at Cisco read your 'Industrial Wireless Wars' article and your eNews item on 'The CISCO factor'. We appreciate the recognition of our influence. Here are some comments:

    • Your statement: 'Cisco - Alliances with Everyone' may be a bit overstated, when citing only two such instances in your article, Rockwell Automation and Emerson. CISCO will and does collaborate with all major Industrial Automation providers who are recognizing IT/controls convergence benefits for end-users and are actively promoting open IP standards for control and plant networking. Both Rockwell and Emerson fit this category. Essentially, we are partnering with Automation suppliers where there is clear alignment and momentum that benefits end users, and of course, Cisco. Would you expect otherwise?
    • On wireless standards for controls and sensor networks, we do recognize the 'battle lines' - even some of the subtleties - and are essentially seeking to maximize the relevance of 802.11 Wi-Fi for industrial environments.
    • Regarding Cisco-related April-07 news releases with Rockwell, followed by "radio silence", then Sep-07 with Emerson, we are truly at fault for lacking rhythm in keeping the press updated on very substantive activities with Rockwell since announcing our collaboration.

    More to come very soon! You'll see in our investment choices that we are committed to the Industrial Ethernet space as a significant revenue growth opportunity for Cisco, improving production visibility/productivity/safety/ROA/ regulatory compliance by using the network as the platform to solve these business concerns.

    "Even though CISCO may not fully understand the fragmented, tribal, even religious nature of the Industrial Automation market, we see Industrial Ethernet as a market transition in which we intend to participate, accelerate, and share in the benefits that Manufacturers realize with more open IP networking standards for HMI/SCADA, control, I/O and device layers."

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Margaret Lowery [marget1927@yahoo.com] comments on recent eNews topics:

    "I really enjoyed Tom Friedman on the Quiet generation. There were a bunch of UCSD students here to escape smoke. Nice kids, but that's what they are - just kids. I keep remembering my sister's grand nephew coming from Israel and commenting on how immature our young people are.

    "Why doesn't anybody suggest raising the salary limit for Social Security taxes to infinity? Surely somebody has figures on how much money that would bring each day. Are we so afraid of those whose take-home pay is astronomical? Of course, they're the big donors to political campaigns and that must be at least part of the reason why they're immune. As Warren Buffett said somewhere, his secretary pays more taxes than he does."

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