JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success
No. 20 : October 10, 2000
JimPinto.com eNews is a new-age newsletter, published irreverently and
irregularly by Jim Pinto.
Business & marketing commentary with new attitudes and no platitudes.
We tell it like we see it. No advertising, no fear, no favor. Who's
hiring and firing; who is buying up and selling out; who is hot and
who is not. Stay e-tuned....
- Futurist Movies
- EBiz - better ways to get personal
- The Home of the Future
- Book: Digital Capital - Business Webs
- Dead horse wisdom
- Companies in trouble
- Acquisition buzz - eFeedback
Futurist Josh Calder, a researcher at Coates & Jarratt, has created a
website devoted to discussing a wide range of future-oriented topics
as they are portrayed in films. Cloning, for instance, is portrayed in
both Woody Allen's SLEEPER (1973) and Luc Besson's THE FIFTH ELEMENT
(1997). Nanotechnology is portrayed in "The Fifth Element" as well as
TERMINATOR II (James Cameron, 1991). And time travel is depicted in
"Terminator II" as well as TERMINATOR I (Cameron, 1984), TWELVE
MONKEYS (Terry Gilliam, 1995), and all of the STAR TREK films
(original creator Gene Roddenberry).
Calder uses the discussion of movies on the site to bring ideas about
the future to a wide audience. He invites your feedback.
Visit Calder's Futurist Movies website
Coates & Jarratt, is a 20-year-old futurist consulting firm in Washington, DC.
Visit the Coates & Jarratt website
E-biz : Better ways to get personal
Have you bought a toy online as a gift - and then been bombarded by
toy-advertising the next time you went to the website? Well, that is
because the website "remembered" what you bought, and assumed that you
wanted more toys. The repeat advertising is intrusive and
irritating. It makes you feel as annoyed as you would be with a sales
person who keeps following you around and won't leave you alone. And,
you probably won’t go back.
Recognizing that this kind of e-marketing simply alienates - and
loses - customers, most good web-marketers are making their websites
smarter. Personalization systems that track buying habits are being
tweaked to find out your "real" preferences.
Read the ZDNET story
The Future Home
What will the home of the future look like? Invensys Network Systems
is doing some significant work with the technology of home networking,
remote monitoring and diagnostics. Invensys hardware, software and
technology can link just about anything that's operated by
electricity - from the kitchen stove, washer, dryer and refrigerator,
to the heating, air conditioning, lighting, and security system. If
it's controlled by electricity, chances are it can be part of a LAN
you can tap into over the Internet.
Take a look at The Home of the Future
Digital Capital : Harnessing the Power of Business Webs
The irony of the new economy is that, despite ferocious competition,
success derives increasingly from connectivity and cooperation.
"Business webs" refers to the growing phenomenon of electronically
enhanced business partnerships that are recreating the whole concept
of the corporation. These are strategically aligned, multi-enterprise
partner networks of producers, suppliers, service providers,
infrastructure companies and customers that conduct business
communication and transactions via digital channels. The enterprise
that succeeds today forms lateral partnerships with other
goods-or-service providers and eliminates the role of planes, trains,
and trucks - time, money and human energy.
In DIGITAL CAPITAL, futurist Don Tapscott and fellow cyber consultants
David Ticoll and Alex Lowy analyze the b-web concept. They offer
guidelines for harnessing its power, helping to plan your
communications strategy for your biz-web participants, especially your
customers. You must shift resources from traditional marketing to
product and service innovation. Honesty and Trust are critical for
secure transactions. Attention is a scarce resource - manage it
Digital Capital : take a look at the book
Dead Horse Wisdom
The inimitable and irrepressible Dick Morley is himself a "portal" for
internet humor and wisdom. He sent me this recently and I thought
you'd like it.
The tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians, passed on from one generation
to the next, says that when you discover that you are riding a dead
horse, the best strategy is to dismount.
However, in modern business, because heavy investment factors are
taken into consideration, other strategies are often tried with dead
horses, including the following:
- Buying a stronger whip.
- Changing riders.
- Threatening the horse with termination.
- Appointing a committee to study the horse.
- Arranging to visit other sites to see how they ride dead horses.
- Lowering the standards so that dead horses can be included.
- Reclassifying the dead horse as "living-impaired".
- Hiring outside contractors to ride the dead horse.
- Harnessing several dead horses together to increase speed.
- Providing additional funding and/or training to increase the dead horse's performance.
- Doing a productivity study to see if lighter riders would improve the dead horse's performance.
- Declaring that the dead horse carries lower overhead and therefore contributes more to the bottom line than some other horses.
- Rewriting the expected performance requirements for all horses.
- Promoting the dead horse to a supervisory position.
Companies in Trouble
A lotttt of dust was stirred up by my recent article.
Why is Automation Declining?
There was a significant amount to discussion on the Automation List,
with the questions: Is automation really declining? Why? Aren't there
pockets of growth? Is the decline worldwide? Why is the market
stagnant? Is the decline temporary?
It is evident today (Oct. 2000) that several of the major industrial
automation companies are in trouble. During the past couple of weeks,
Invensys stock, already depressed, dropped by about 40% to a level
where its market cap was below the price of BTR alone when the
Siebe/BTR merger occurred two years ago - conjectures are rife about
an Invensys buyout. Rockwell stock has dipped to it lowest ever,
because Allen-Bradley is stagnant. Honeywell continues to struggle,
and it is my opinion that the Industrial Automation Division will
inevitably be sold off. What is happening here?
My new article : Companies in Trouble has just been published in
Controls Intelligence & Plant Systems Report, October 2000.
When he first saw it, Jack Grenard, Publisher Emeritus, wrote:
"I thought to myself : 'It's Jim Pinto again, simply stirring the pot with his old
theme!' But, then I realized that it was not just another critical
commentary. It traces the decline of some past industry leaders and
points out the patterns with a panoramic view. Thank you for providing
this valuable insight!"
My article was written after the Automation List discussions. I felt
that more people needed to understand the decline, its causes and the
remedies. This article describes the specific situations at Rockwell,
Invensys and Honeywell. And it brings up the specter of the late-stage
sale, at a rock-bottom price, of troubled ICS(UK) (Max Controls,
Triplex, Transmitton). Finally, it offers predictions, warnings and
The original version of this article was published in Controls
Intelligence & Plant Systems Report, October 2000.
Read Companies in Trouble
Download a .pdf version
You too can join The Automation List. Send an email with "subscribe"
(just the word, no quotes) in the subject line to :
It seems that Alchemy/Tritax, the vulture-oops-venture firm that
bought ICS (UK) at a ridiculously low penny-a-share, has wasted very
little time in moving out to divest the pieces.
An employee at Max Control Systems e-wrote to JimPinto.com eNews :
"While it hasn't been announced yet, TriTrax has agreed to sell Max
Controls Systems to Neles Automation, a division of Metso. My
understanding is that it's a 'done deal'. Multiple cartons shipped
FedEx from Neles showed up addressed to the HR director, indicating
that employees will be informed shortly.
"Prior to the Alchemy offer
which was accepted by the ICS Board, there was an offer on the table
to ICS for Max from Neles. From what I've heard, that offer was
almost as much as Alchemy offered for the whole group. It was not
accepted, as it would not have benefited the banks controlling the
board as much as the Alchemy offer."
Another acquisition-buzz item :
By now, it is common knowledge that the Honeywell Sensors
business unit (formerly Microswitch) has acquired UK-based TrendView Instrumentation, a
manufacturer of paperless chart recorders, pressure transducers, radio
telemetry systems, and data acquisition products. TrendView products
will be integrated into the Sensing and Control division to expand
Honeywell's current line of VRX Series video/paperless recorders.
This runs counter to my prediction that Honeywell will divest its
industrial controls activities. (Note : Industrial Automation (Phoenix)
and Sensors (Chicago) are separate units, but both part of the Honeywell
Industrial Controls Group.) A rumor that did support my
conjectures was that the Honeywell field-transmitters products had
been sold to Endress+Hauser.
Can anyone at Honeywell IAC confirm or deny this news??
On the subject of Invensys, an insider e-wrote :
"Playing Golf, while Invensys burns : Invensys stock was down about
another 8% in the last five trading days and it continues its
precarious slide down the financial slope. Meanwhile, CEO Allen Yurko
is in Las Vegas this week as Invensys sponsors a major PGA golf tournament."
On the subject of Automation in decline, James Musselman, Radix, Inc.,
Clovis, CA 93611
firstname.lastname@example.org e-wrote :
"I worked in industrial controls for many years designing hardware and
writing firmware. I got very, very comfortable. Then, starting in the
early 90s, my clients started to be sold or re-organized. Nobody
seemed to be making money, not even the owners.
"I moved on to the computer world. The difference is day and night!
Suddenly, instead of old, stable 4-20 mA current loops, you're
surrounded by fast-moving new technologies - something 3 years old is
already "Neanderthal". To all the middle aged and displaced engineers
like me I say : a solid engineering background is a superb base for
launching into Software Engineering. I find it relaxing and
satisfying; basically anyone can do it who is willing to read and
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