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My trip to OzI've just returned from a 10-day trip to Australia. I had intended to do an eNews before I left, but didn't quite get to doing that; hence just one "irregular and irreverent" eNews this month.
I went to Australia as the keynote speaker at the Citect Oceania User's Conference, 2008, in Port Douglas, Queensland. Topic: "Future Global Trends in Industrial Automation".
Wow! Wonderful venue (Sheraton Mirage Resort) with 250 people attending, including about 150 end-users, 50 systems-integrators and the remainder our Citect hosts.
All the key people from Citect (Headquartered in Sydney) were there: CEO, Chris Crowe; Scott Woodridge, VP Oceania; Anthony Wong, Sales Director; Steve Flannagan, SCADA Director; and many others.
Schneider was represented by Lionel Finidori, Pacific Zone Manager, who opened the conference with a stirring speech, "Schneider is 'bloody' serious about Citect" - the Aussie expletive signifying the maximum commitment any parent company could make.
Judging by the luxurious surroundings, sumptuous cuisine, spectacular entertainment and enthusiasm at the well-planned multiple events, this was a celebration the likes of which I have not seen for a long time. This was reminiscent of the glory days of automation, decades ago in America.
I've visited Australia several times in the past, but always dashed in and out of Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, missing some of the best scenery and surroundings. This time I spent a couple of extra days, starting with friends in Sydney, followed by a relaxing 4-5 days in Port Douglas (an hour from Cairns) and then 2-3 days in Brisbane, speaking at an industry luncheon hosted by Wayne Patterson CEO of Multitrode, and other local companies.
I've gotta tell you, I love Oz and the Ozzies! A country about the size of the continental US with wealth stemming from bountiful natural resources - minerals, metals, mining, oil - plus only 20 million people with an attitude that resonates friendliness, confidence and optimism. Perhaps this is reflected in their high ranking of Olympic medals per-capita.
I'm going back!
Video Conferencing - Virtual TravelAs travel costs rise and airlines cut services, large and small companies are rethinking business travel and face-to-face meetings. The technology has matured to the point where it is often practical, affordable and more productive to move digital bits instead of bodies.
The emerging trend goes well beyond a reaction to rising travel costs and weakening economies. Past predictions that technology could replace travel have been frequent and premature. The main difference today is that the technology is finally catching up to its promise. There's no single breakthrough - rather a series of advances in telecommunications networks, software and computer processing.
The results can be seen not only in the expensive new telepresence systems, but also in more mainstream collaboration technologies - Web conferencing, online document sharing, wikis and Internet telephony. Companies of all sizes are beginning to shift to web-based meetings for training and sales presentations.
Of course, face-to-face meeting are not obsolete. It's simply that digital tools are making business travel more selective. A recent report estimates that up to 20% of business travel could be replaced by videoconferencing today.
A range of companies offer the mainstream online communications and collaboration tools: WebEx, Citrix, Microsoft, IBM and others, plus top-end products from Cisco, HP and Polycom.
Completed telepresence rooms, typically with three huge curved screens (and a fourth screen above for shared work), custom lighting and acoustics, cost up to $350,000. That cost is rapidly decreasing.
With more than 200 telepresence rooms, CISCO says it is avoiding $100M in annual travel costs, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from air travel by 10%. HP says air travel for offices with telepresence rooms is down 25%.
The paradox in "telepresence" is that it stimulates the richest form of human interaction: people talking to each other, face to face.
But, many agree that it is not a perfect substitute. You don't learn about other cultures with telepresence. You get things from being there, over breakfast and dinner, building relationships face-to-face.
Some years ago, I made a televised speech from San Diego to a conference in Australia. That could not compare with the level of personal interaction and enjoyment I achieved during my recent Australia trip. The travel time was about 14 hours each way. But, the personal interaction was worth the journey.
Softdel/Matrikon Joint Company FormedTwo companies I have been associated with, Softdel and Matrikon, recently (Jul 15, 2008) formed a joint entity. The new company will utilize global talent for deployment in parts of the world with tight labor markets such as Australia, the Middle East, northern Alberta and parts of Europe.
Publicly-held Matrikon is often labeled the world's largest OPC provider. The company, based in Alberta, Canada, has offices throughout North America, Australia, Europe and the Middle East.
Matrikon Founder and CEO Nizar J. Somji, was personally involved in the formation of this new joint company. Says Nizar, "This is a strategic move to optimize our operational efficiencies and growth opportunities, with access to a steady supply of highly qualified engineers."
SoftDEL, has development centers in Mumbai and Pune, India, and focuses on software and hardware developments for Industrial & Building Automation, and Test & Measurement. SoftDEL's expertise includes real-time PC hosted applications, embedded systems, hardware & mechanical design and systems & application engineering.
I've known and worked with Sunil Dalal for several years. He's the Managing Director of the UniDEL Group, which founded SoftDEL in 2000. Softdel's CEO D. Viswanath (we call him DV) led the effort to form this joint company with Matrikon. DV is proud of his company's continued growth and success with advanced software developments for worldwide customers.
Sunil and DV are excited about the new company, "It's great that we can leverage Softdel's talented people with Matrikon, to generate the next level of mutual growth and success."
As part of the Automation.com Corporate cultures series, I've described Matrikon's growth orientated people culture (weblink below)
Trends in the 3 different worldsIn his insightful article in the July-August 2008 issue of the World Future Society's journal "Futurist" Andy Hines looks at the big trends in demography, money, and consumerism that will shape the world in the next decade. I've summarized Part I of this article here, with my own editorial tweaks.
Andy Hines separates the world into three different segments:
Green is going mainstreamWhether it's because of high fuel prices, or worries about global warming, environmentalism seems to be going mainstream.
Al Gore's film about global warming, "An Inconvenient Truth" is the 3rd highest-grossing documentary in history. The nay-sayers are being ridiculed as oil-company pawns. A major poll finds that more than two-thirds of Americans now believe global warming is having a serious impact, and it's necessary to take steps right away to counter its effects.
Companies are learning to make their profit by helping nature rather than by destroying it. Capital is shifting towards making green (money) through going green (environmentalism). That's a seminal shift into a different kind of economy.
Automakers are finally getting serious about hybrids, expanding offerings and retooling gas-guzzling pickup trucks and SUVs as hybrids. Consumers are looking for more energy savings which puts green builders and building products in demand. Skyrocketing energy prices are changing the math.
When energy costs were relatively low, making investments to reduce future costs was an uphill battle. But today's energy costs moves the issue to simple fiscal responsibility.
eFeedbackHoward Minnick [firstname.lastname@example.org] has first-hand experience with China Pricing:
"It has been a very interesting experience and your article really hits home. When you are in meetings with these people in China it is apparent that they are focused on long-term. Also with regards to pricing and profits I think that you are absolutely dead-on with your article about their lack of concern for profit levels as compared to ours.
"The capabilities and the focus that I have seen on quality and developing relationships has been impressive. Given their mentality and what they are looking for in terms of profit, I think that our manufacturing sector will continue to suffer, especially when it comes to anything that can be built in volume."
"The math insinuations are based on the tacit assumption that all people should be considered equal by head count. They are not; and no rational person equates the ability or productivity of a scientific PhD with that of an illiterate.
"If the Earth's size remained the same size and the 1,000 people were evenly distributed, mankind would perish because the people couldn't find each other to procreate. The ultimate Green Dream consequences.
"Now if we put these 1,000 people in some special place, let's say in 2 square miles without any outside influences, they would all speak the same language because of close proximity to each other. They would have essentially two religions, believers and non-believers.
"OK, so we shouldn't scrutinize Meadows' work too closely, since her point is to call out the uneven distribution of things under present influences.
"Meadows' math takes poetic license to her agenda. The 600 unmentioned people receive 23% of the income. This unmentioned group receives 4 times the income per capita of the as the singled out lowest income group.
"Karl Marx repeated this type of harangue in his writings and we know what his agenda was. Capitalism is unfair, Socialism is unfair, Communism is unfair; hell the world is unfair. Life is unfair, youth is wasted on the young."
"What happened to the division of church and state which our Founding Fathers believed essential to a free society? What we see today is faith-based favoritism bordering on hostility to those who do not believe in their god, or any god.
"As you know, secular humanists believe in freedom of thought, reason and moral behavior of the society. What chance would any political candidate have in the US if he/she did not profess religious belief?"
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