JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success
No. 64 : October 12, 2001
Keeping an eye on technology futures.
Business commentary - no hidden agendas.
New attitudes, no platitudes.
- Anti-terrorist technology - 4
Is technology an ally?
- Invensys: RIF Rule 3 - Dismemberment
- Bruce Henderson departs (last of the good guys)
- Project Unity proceeding with IBM (Hmmm...)
- Action Instruments manufacturing shutting down (Ouch*#@)
- Complexity Science - the next BIG thing
- Robotic Parking Systems
- Good People - good connections
- Face-recognition already quite effective in Las Vegas
- Rockwell's melting iceberg
- Who is growing this year?
Anti-terrorist technology - 4
Over the past few weeks, many technologists have wondered aloud about its
likely role in countering terrorism - or in carrying it out. Have the
limitations and dangers of technology been overlooked? Where, on the other
hand, might technological innovations emerge or be redirected as a result
of recent events?
The NY Times article "Is Technology an Ally?" features an interesting
discussion between technology futurist Ray Kurzweil, computer scientist
Peter Neumann, science fiction author Bruce Sterling, law professor
Lawrence Lessig, engineer Severo Ornstein (formerly at ARPANET, precursor
of the Internet) and cryptographer Whitfield Diffie.
Here is a synopsis:
Lessig: This is a great spur for technological innovation to respond to
real threats by achieving effective surveillance and yet preserve personal
privacy. The real problem we face is not slowness in technological
innovation, but rather slowness in legal and civil rights innovation in
response to the technological change.
Diffie: The natural trade-off is a broad public right to inquire and the
right of the individual to employ protection from surveillance
(cryptography, wearing masks, using pseudonyms, etc.), which presumes a
commercial right to make and sell products that support the individual's
desire for privacy.
Neumann: Techniques to protect can also be used to subvert, attack or
otherwise compromise. The problems are inherently human, and technology can
be used for good or bad.
Sterling: If we're going to use surveillance as a weapon, then we should
trust our democratic traditions and arm the population with it. Don't worry
too much about states surveilling average citizens. Worry about sneaky
political operatives carrying out dirty-tricks campaigns against
politicians. This can destabilize legitimate governments more effectively
Ornstein: This is just an instance of the more general conflict between the
needs and desires of the individual and those of the larger society.
Today's technology permits small numbers of people to wreak a
disproportionate amount of havoc. The debate about where to draw the
security line will be ongoing. The more damage, the tighter we'll circle
Kurzweil: Centralized technologies are subject to disruption and disaster.
Distributed technologies tend to be flexible, efficient and relatively
benign in their environment effects. Technologies that allow work, and
people, to be dispersed rather than centralized are accelerating. We'll see
a great deal of innovation to overcome many of the current limitations of
Read the NY Times article: Is Technology an Ally?
Ray Kurzweil's additional responses after NY Times meeting
Invensys proceeds towards dismemberment
Bruce Henderson Departs (last of the good-guys)
Allen Yurko has departed (October 1), presumably pocketing his princely
pension, leaving his replacement Rick Haythornthwaite to preside over the
dismemberment of Invensys. The following is the gist of a Haythornthwaite
memo issued this week:
"Bruce Henderson, Division Chief Executive of Invensys Software Systems, is
leaving the Group. Effective immediately, the division will report directly
The rest of the memo was a poorly written, thinly disguised blah blah about
Henderson doing an excellent job, etc. You don't make a major move like
this, unless you have a successor at the gate. It simply means that
Haythornthwaite had no choice; Henderson was the last of the good-guys. I
challenge anyone to come up with a single name within the totally depleted
management ranks that could have replaced him. The hordes of hungry
hangers-on will simply fall in line, meekly awaiting dismemberment.
And so, dismemberment proceeds. An insider close to the top sent this:
"Rick will sell whatever he can get a decent price for. I can't see that
either the existing divisional structure or any previous ideas about what
is or is not core business will be relevant; "cash is king" in this
Project Unity proceeds
I had guessed that Haythornthwaite would waite till Yurko departed before
he cancelled "Project Unity" - the outsourcing of IT and some key functions
to IBM and others. I was wrong - it looks like he is fighting too many
alligators to stop the momentum. One wonders whether IBM knows that what
they're really buying is a relationship with a fast disintegrating
IBM and Invensys team up
Action Instruments Manufacturing shutting down
Forgive my picking on a fast-declining Invensys. In the past I had no
"grudge" - only encouragement and appreciation from lots of Invensys
employees worldwide, who wrote:
"No one tells us anything! Your clear,
blunt reporting of the facts is critical at this juncture. Career decisions
need to be made to adjust to the situation and your emails are very
Now however, I am genuinely upset!
Action Instruments - the company I
founded 30 years ago, acquired by Eurotherm (my choice), which in turn was
sold to Invensys (not my choice)- has been informed that all manufacturing
will be outsourced. So, some 60-80 manufacturing people (some there for
over 20 years) will be out of a job. Under these conditions, how many
others do you think will stay?
How can I comment on this stupidity? I shall - in an article I have
brewing: Stupidity is more destructive than Malevolence!
Here is the theme: If someone set out deliberately and maliciously to plan
the demise of good companies like Action (or APV, Foxboro, Eurotherm,
Wonderware) they could NOT do as much damage, as quickly, as sheer
The Invensys yes-men, middle-men who perpetrate such idiocy will get
short-shrift when the parts of Invensys are sold off soon to hopefully more
'nuf said. I'll let you know when and where my commentary is published.
Complexity Science the next big thing
Chaos Theory, also known as Complexity Science, is the study of how order
inevitability emerges from chaos, and how all systems - natural and
created - innately seem to crave and develop efficiency and organization.
Dick Morley, technology guru, PLC pioneer and co-author of "The Technology
Machine", has been preaching the applications of Chaos Theory for more than
a decade. I have been attending his annual "Chaos in Manufacturing
Conference" in Santa Fe, New Mexico, for several years and am disappointed
that it was called off this year. The small band of "Chaos Groupies" simply
did not generate enough practical business applications. Dick will be
pleased to note that the new century is generating new and significant
interest - more than just visionary.
Jim Rutt, Internet pioneer and CEO of Network Solutions (until recently,
the only Internet registrar, now sold to Verisign) has quit his job to
dedicate himself to the applications of complexity science to computers, so
that machines and their applications can become more intelligent.
Rutt says complexity science is already being used in software such as
heuristic virus scanners, network traffic routers and voice recognition
applications - applications that, on a very basic and pre-programmed level,
can make choices. He believes these applications are only the raw beginning
of a whole new type of technology - computers, systems and software that
will independently think and learn.
Wired Mag: Pioneer steps out of Net Rutt
Business 2.0: Jim Rutt - Complexity Pioneer
Robotic Parking Systems
One of the worst things about having a car is parking it. In busy downtown
areas, parking garages are most often crowded and dark and choke you with
In the future, robots will do the dirty work, thanks to automated parking
systems such as those developed in Germany by Klaus Parking Systems and in
the US by Robotic Parking Inc.
Fully automated garages offer computer-controlled parking and
space-efficient stacking, which can fit twice as many vehicles as a
conventional garage. Cars placed on pallets are shifted into tight
positions mechanically rather than maneuvered into place by drivers. The
technique is similar to raising and lowering aircraft to different levels
on a carrier.
Robotic Parking Inc.
Klaus Car Parking System
Good people - good connections
JimPinto.com does NOT accept any paid advertising. We do accept "brownie
points" (only from friends) - which we will collect from time-to-time.
The "good connections" mentioned here are people we like, whose
capabilities we respect and talents we admire. We recommend that you browse
their websites and utilize their services when you need anything they have
Mike Willey: Recently joined the Global Foresight Group - providing
strategic business and product planning, market size and growth forecasts,
marketing due diligence, profitability improvement through price management
and other services for companies in the Instrumentation & Automation
Walt Boyes: One of the best marketing minds in the industrial automation
business. He is co-author of "e-Business in Manufacturing: Putting the
Internet to Work in the Industrial Enterprise" ISA Press - September 2001.
Read the latest edition of "Notes From Walt's Desk" - topic: "Managing
Jeffrey Harrow: The imaginative and prolific author of Compaq's RCFoC
(Rapidly Changing Face of Computers). He has now struck out on his own as a
technology consultant, exploring innovations and trends across
technologies. You might like to sign-up for his (free, weekly) Harrow
Jeff Dean [email@example.com] commented about face-recognition as an
"On a spot basis, face recognition technology has been used in Las Vegas
and has proven to work quite well. I view Alex Pavloff's statement
concerning a one-third-failure rate as being a solution to eliminating
two-thirds of the air traveling public from further physical feature
analysis. However, he also stated the DARPA test was performed with indoor
light. Why not just use different light bulbs to enhance facial features?"
Jeff Dean happens to be ex-Rockwell, and he wrote regarding my coverage of
the Rockwell decline:
"Rockwell's iceberg has been melting for years. They've been laying people
off regularly since I left - three years ago. Best I can tell they are
eliminating worker bees to fund maintenance of too many layers of middle
In a recent JimPinto.com eNews, I mentioned that some industrial automation
companies have reported revenue growth of 17% this year. I had several
"While Rockwell has been able to produce lots of "products", they have
proven to be inept when it comes to creating the "solutions" the market is
demanding. Long gone are the days of the A-B Distributor being able to sit
by the fax machine waiting for PLC-5 orders to come in. The sales (and now
service) force has to present an integrated vision for the plethora of
products, controllers, I/O, and software - even if the corporate leadership
doesn't have such a vision."
"What groups of companies are saying this? Is it just one supplier? I'd
like to apply for a position to help continue that growth!"
Several companies in industrial automation have been growing quite well
this year - example, OSI Software. Ask Pat Kennedy for a job:
[Pat@osisoft.com] - tell Pat I sent you.
However, what about the majors? Well, I got this response from a leader -
Sales $16b, market-cap $21b:
"This company provides more motors than any company in the world, their
measurement business bookings alone grew over 19% globally, their lead
systems product line grew more than that, and their favorite color is
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