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Strategy Articles

The International ADAM Team is Reporting: The purpose of this continuously growing and changing executive style section is to monitor and review what the future might bring, and then guide and advise professionals on Hows? Whys? and Whens?

Disclaimer: Please note that we try to be as accurate as possible with our forecasts, nevertheless we cannot guarantee that we are actually correct! Nevertheless we have no doubt, that time will prove that we were very close...


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Virtual Concurrent & Multi-lifecycle Engineering Over the 3D Internet


Paul G Ranky, PhD, Professor, Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, New Jersey Institute of Technology, A Public Research University in NJ, USA.

The 21st Century undoubtedly is the 'knowledge driven century', meaning that information that can be turned into value adding knowledge will represent more power than ever before. This is because the Internet helps to reduce waste, as well as acts as a systems integration and collaborator enabler for creating new ideas that can be turned into product and then sold to a global economy quicker and at a lower cost than ever before.

The advanced design and manufacturing/ assembly industry is increasingly operating on a globally integrated, Internet-based collaborative model of design, production and support in which OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) assemble products out of components and objects (both hardware and software) by a network of distributed suppliers.

This distributed client-server model is enabled by the Internet, company intranets and consortium based extranets. Reaching even further, in a modern factory every 'important' machine is electronically represented by a webpage, enabling operators and managers to review processes, state, quality and others over intranets anytime, anywhere.

In this new economy, leading companies are discovering that besides minimizing design and manufacturing costs and maximizing quality, they can achieve competitive advantage by introducing new, innovative products that satisfy individual consumers on a global basis. This is possible because of the highly integrated collaborative opportunities of product and process design, information technology and management. Gains of such 'hot new products' can not only increase the company's market share but it can create an entirely new market category (e.g. the Sony Walkman, Apple's Firewire interfacing standard and others), in which the company is the leader, therefore enjoys the efficiency gains by orders of magnitude.

Internet-based, or Internet-enabled, collaborative manufacturing fosters innovation in integrated design and lean/ flexible manufacturing. This is because coupled with enterprise management systems it can contribute to further cost reductions and sustainable growth. Furthermore, Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) activities and software systems, in integration with Enterprise Resource Planning and Management (ERP&ERM) with Supply Chain Management (SCM) coupled with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) represent a very powerful methods base. These systems can be used on a real-time basis to fine tune a business, continuously learn, innovate and satisfy customer needs, therefore sustain growth and make profit on a global basis.

The primary delivery mechanism for the above outlined system is Internet e-business. At the beginning, the key value of e-business is cost savings, customer satisfaction and revenue growth. As soon as the factory, or organization understands the benefits of web-enabled enterprise processes that share resources, applications and data, the opportunities for further waste reductions and growth are even more dramatic. This is the stage when the e-business gradually becomes a network of connected lean and flexible e-manufacturing businesses.

There are several major success cases in which US manufacturers have found Internet-based manufacturing to be beneficial. As an excellent example consider the National Electronics Manufacturing Initiative's (NEMI) Plug and Play Factory Project. This consortium addressed the issues of how to quickly integrate new pieces of electronics assembly equipment into a shop floor line management system and how to manage the vast amounts of data available in today's electronics manufacturing environment over the Internet, using XML messaging.

At GenRad Inc. in Massachusetts, and partner companies, the necessary technical infrastructure (led by Allan Fraser) was designed, developed, and demonstrated over a two-year period. New standards activities for electronics manufacturing were initiated where existing standards were either non-existent or insufficient to achieve the project goals. The goals of the project were to reduce the amount of time and cost that is takes to integrate a new piece of electronics assembly equipment into a shop floor environment and start collecting data and controlling that equipment (often several thousand miles away over the Internet).

It is estimated today that the integration cost of a typical factory information system is up to four times the cost of purchasing that system in the first place. By demonstrating an order of magnitude reduction in the amount of time and cost of implementing a new factory information system based on the Internet client-server model and XML-based messaging, the project achieved it's goal of drastically reducing cost and improving quality.

To summarize, the key is that by understanding market drivers based on mutually beneficial collaborative problem solving processes enables companies to move beyond traditionally narrow design, manufacturing and trading mechanisms to new and different ways of solving challenges and capturing new markets. The challenges are enormous because most of the old models are changing at a rapid pace and quite frankly nobody truly understands the new economy... Some of the most important tasks facing today's able engineers, managers, researchers and IT professionals include the

Those companies and individuals that will be able to understand and capture the essence of this new 'knowledge driven' Internet economy in which this much broader and more integrated manufacturing model coupled with sound education, and quality content (versus hype) are major wealth creators, will be tomorrow's e-business leaders.


U.S. Small Business eDevelopment and eCommerce Drivers and Collaboration Strategies (with some important implications for all of us...)

In a recent servey of the U.S. economy by The Network of City Business Journals (also published by Business News, January 9, 2001), based on the feedback of 700 American Small Businesses the following interesting, strategically important facts were published. (A summary with additional comments by the Editor of ADAM with IT).

One of the fundamental drivers of the U.S. economy is the fact that U.S. Governments support small business because they recognise the enormous innovative energy that resides in small family business (1 to 99 employees per business typically). In practice, this means tax benefits, simplified company setup and taxation procedures, significantly lower accounting expenses than for example in Europe, major government grant calls and opportunities, venture capital and a major emphasis on self development, eLearning and other Continuing Professional Development opportunities and tax benefits.

Furthermore small business developments are enjoying an excellent infratstucture (Internet communications, transportation, advanced design and manufacturing services, B2B and D2D, meaning business to business and developer to developer networks, and others). Overall, the positive attitude towards helping small businessess, often based on the founder's great idea, is to help them to grow into large well known companies, such as IBM, Apple, Intel, Ford and others.

This enthusiasm towards small businesses in the US is well reflected by the fact that whilst only about 6 to 8 percent of European graduate engineering students think of setting up their small businesses, in the US this figure is above 70 percent (Ref. IEE, UK, December 2000).

There are some other interesting facts too that illustrate that an entire nation's future and prosperity can be altered by believing and strongly supporting the concept that education is a well placed investment, versus cost. (In this sense U.S. Universities and colleges are part of a supply chain management system that prepares the workforce for our 'knowledge driven' economy).

Let me share with you some interesting facts:

Information about the profile of the average U.S. Small business is very interesting too. This is what this survey has found:

With specific interest towards the effect of the Internet on small businesses the following was found:

How do small businesses live up to the 'caffeteria packages' that large international companies can offer?

What are the top small business concerns?

And now an interesting case, illustrating how we are all trying to learn and develop eCommerce and eDevelopment strategies and practices in our 'knowledge driven information age'. As this example shows, the road is not as easy as it sounds:'s Accidental Bargains (source: David M. Ewalt, Informationweek, USA). Shoppers visiting Inc.'s electronics store Monday night found major bargains on computer memory when an apparent glitch caused a handful of products to be sold for a fraction of their retail prices. A Viking 256-Mbyte memory board retailing for $9.99 reached No. 1 in Amazon's sales rankings before the price was corrected Tuesday morning to $329.99, and a 1-Gbyte board sold for $10.77 before being corrected to $999.99.

The cause of the mistake, how many orders were taken, and how the company will respond aren't known at this point. Amazon declined to discuss the situation, saying it was under investigation. Its pricing policy states that if an item is incorrectly priced, the company can cancel the sale, but as of 3 p.m. EST Tuesday, the orders had not been canceled, and customers who bought the components still showed the discounted price in their accounts' order status.

Jason Williams, a network administration student who describes himself as an "avid Internet deal hunter," became aware of the low prices through a forum on another Web site. He figured it was a mistake, but placed two orders anyway, buying $3,000 worth of RAM for about $80. He doesn't expect the sale to be honored, but says it was worth a try.

Amazon isn't the first E-business to face this problem. In March, a glitch on L.P.'s site let customers book free rooms at a Hilton hotel in Mexico City. Hilton decided not to honor the rate, but offered each affected customer one free night at the hotel as an "act of goodwill." And for about an hour Jan. 31, a computer error let 143 people buy fantastically discounted tickets for international travel through United Airlines Inc.'s Web site. United canceled the tickets, but after customer outcry, it agreed to honor the sales. "Although we had a very solid legal footing, we decided not to make that a point of contention," says a spokesman for United. "We just listened to our customers."

No matter what Amazon decides to do, Williams figures he's already won. "When an online company makes a mistake, if you complain enough you usually get a free gift certificate or something to satisfy you," he says. "You can't really lose."

If you have any comments about this article please email the Editor:

We'll be most interested in the following:

Time and Stress Management...

Knowing how to manage yourself means that you can manage your energy, in terms of your

Rather than scheduling your time down to every 10 minutes of every day, think of your emotional, mental and physical assets first, because if you don't, you might as well say goodby to your productive, quality, and value added contributions to this world...

Many individuals worry too much about work, how to satisfy their management and their customers (both inside as well as outside customers). Many feel too much anger and frustration in many situations. This might start with a difficult commute, the email being down, the office is cold or warm, something smells bad, the boss is upset, and others. If you cannot overcome such issues they'll depete you before even opening your first productive meeting or computer screen of the day.

So, what are the solutions to this complex issue? Obviously as always, lifestyle, diet and exercise helps a lot to increase your positive energy. There is always something nice every day, and you should be able to find that in life.... Furthermore focusing on truly value added, quality activities that you enjoy and being rewarded for helps too. If you feel that despite your positive contributions and efforts you are still not respected look into your environment; they might not be right...the conclusion? ... yes, make a wise move!

Some further practical solutions:

Let us know what your experiences are. We'll be pleased to review and publish them! (Please email to the editor:

The Top Ten Engineering Marvels (Compiled by the National Academy of Engineering, Washington DC, USA)

1. Electrification

2. Automobile

3. Airplane

4. Water Supply and Distribution

5. Electronics

6. Radio and Television

7. Agricultural Mechanisation

8. Computers

9. Telephone

10. Air Conditioning and Refrigeration

11. Highways

12. Spacecraft

13. Internet

14. Imaging

15. Household Appliances

16. Health Technologies

17. Petroleum and Gas Technologies

18. Laser and Fiber Optics

19. Nuclear Technologies

20. High Performance Materials

(ADAM with IT's comment: Although many of the above entries interrelate (e.g. electricity is literally part of everything we do these days), the truly amazing thing about this list is that Computers became only 8th, and the Internet only the 13th, and most importantly Health Technologies only 16th...try to ask your dentist, next time you visit, to use 18th century tools on you, your accountant to work out everything without computers and your children to complete their homework without using the Internet... Enjoy!)

Why Do Companies Relocate?

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According to a USA study, the following approximate percent of manufacturers are planning to relocate for the following reasons:

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Comments on the Knowledge-driven Economy by the IEE President, Dr. John Taylor...

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At the recent IEE (The Institution of Electrical Engineers) Annual Dinner in London, UK, IEE President, Dr. John Taylor in his forward looking speech was talking about the need to prepare for the knowledge-driven economy, success in which depends on how well one exploits some of our most valuable assets, including knowledge, science and engineering, our skills and innovative ideas.

He said, "The first industrial revolution was based primarily on investment in plant, machinery and equipment. The knowledge-based revolution we are now living through is based on investment in human capital - in training, education and learning - and that is a very important message that we need to get over to people..."

Furthermore, he added that "it is vital that we focus on high value added businesses here in the UK. I believe the information age and the knowledge - driven economy go hand in hand." He also emphasized that information technology is hugely important for the UK, its economy, its prosperity and to its society and quality of life. "It is at the heart of the knowledge-based, high value adding economy. The core ITC supply sector in the UK is over 100 billion Pound Sterling (approximately 165 billion US Dollars). Within this, the electronics sub-sector alone is three times bigger than either aerospace or pharmaceuticals....The computing and software services industries in the UK employ over a million people which is more than the coal industry did at its peak."

The President highlighted the need to be aware of the social implications the knowledge -driven society will bring by stating: "We must not create two societies, one of which can participate in the information age and one one of which cannot... We have to understand that any technology can be and usually will be used for good and for ill... It is vital that we develop better ways of helping the rest of the community to play their part in deciding, which applications are acceptable and which are not."

(The Editor: for more please tune into

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A Crystal Ball for 2000 Finances...

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Living near New York as well as working with a network of professionals worldwide gives us the opportunity to "breathe in" various financial news and trends that are important to be aware of... let us share them with you!

The turning point in low growth is expected by several analysts to reach us by late 1999 for most middle-of-the road series, including industrial production and GDP. Analysts are forecasting a low of 2.3-2.5 percent for December 1999 for industrial production. For durable goods manufacturing orders -1.0 percent in in December 1999.

Based on past periods, analysts are predicting the next major growth curve high for the fourth quarter of 2001 at around 4.0 percent of industrial production and 3.5 percent for GDP.

In the USA, in 1998 the manufacturing industry led the capital goods expenditure by having spent over 190 billion USA Dollars, or close to 30 percent of total expenditures by all businesses with five or more employees. Of this total amount approximately 38 billion was spent on structures and 153 billion on equipment.

The "big spenders" were the automotive industry and their suppliers, including steel works, and among nondurable goods the chemical industry (excluding drugs), the food industry and the tobacco industry.

The growing service industry in the USA has accounted for over 140 billion Dollars of expenditure, or approximately 22 percent of the total expenditure by businesses with five or more employees. Of this amount approximately 50 billion was spent on structures and over 90 billion on equipment, including computers.

The leaders in expenditure were the automotive industries, their suppliers, hospitals, hotels and their suppliers.

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The Internet Revolution Goes On, and On, and On... and it will be (eventually) Much, Much Faster...

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According to Sun Microsystems, Inc. in 1990 there were only 93 business registrations over the internet... in 1999 there are almost 100 million computers on the web... and even more interesting: by 2001 over 270 million computers will be connected to the internet worldwide...

In 1998 in the USA the communication sector invested over 57 billion USA Dollars, of which virtually all was spent on new structures and equipment. In comparison to 1995 this represents a close to 24 percent increase!

The "big spenders" in this industry are the Internet related hardware and software services, including the telephone and other communications services, radio, television broadcasting and mobile communications.

In terms of the Internet, Internet2 sets new standards and promises faster communication for all of us. Please find below their mission statement with the contact email for further information.

The Internet2 Mission Statement:

"Facilitate and coordinate the development, deployment, operation and technology transfer of advanced, network-based applications and network services to further US leadership in research and higher education and accelerate the availability of new services and applications on the Internet".

The Internet2 goals can be summarized as follows:

Some specific objectives are as follows:

Internet2 is a project of the University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development. Please send questions or comments about this project to

According to MarketFacts, the reason why people are on-line is as follows:

European mobile (wireless) Internet use...

A European survey by Excite and Nokia revealed (May 2000) that mobile Internet use in Europe will develop significantly faster than in the USA between 2000 and 2002, nevertheless the USA will catch up around 2003. The reason for this is that Europe has standardized bandwidth and a very large mobile phone base in comparison to the USA. The survey reveiled, that Europeans will execute various transactions using their mobile (i.e. wireless) phone/ Internet connections, versus just looking and researching web-sites, as expected earlier.

English is Not your Language? NO problem!

The Enterprise Translation Server allows everyone in a global network, such as the Internet, to communicate in their own native language, because it can

The system offers automated translation services between English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. (For more click on


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Globalization: The "drivers of change"

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The Technology Foresight Programme in the UK aims to identify the most promising strategic directions for UK industry. Note, that the reasoning and the conclusions in this report are wise and true for many other countries and industries too.

There is an excellent article by David Grant in the IEE Manufacturing Engineer, October 1998 issue, pages 237 to 241, by the Institution of Electrical Engineers, incorporating the Institution of Manufacturing Engineers, Michael Faraday House, Six Hills Way, Stevenage, Herts, SG1 2AY, United Kingdom. The website is:

Below is a short summary with some extended thoughts of this report:

According to the Forsight Panel the major opportunities for gaining competitive advantage will have their roots in one or more of the following major changes in the way we design and manufacture goods in the future:

1. Internationalization: overseas markets and enterprises will have a major influence on everything we do

2. The continuously changing customer requirements and sales and service networks will have a major effect on all of us

3. Competitiveness through agility, focus and partnerships will be key

4. The importance of people skills, motivation, leadership skills, teamwork, learning skills, knowledge and innovation cannot be underestimated in our internet-linked world, in which one can invent and create product and/or service at his or her desk and sell it "anywhere and anytime" in the world!

5. The responsiveness to environmental concerns and regulation that has gained strong ground in Europe is spreading to the rest of the world, creating new businesses, and simultaneously putting pressure on some existing, polluting industries

6. The influence of information technology and communications will be very significant, most importantly the Internet and related opportunities, such as the "anything, anywhere, anytime" concepts, e-commerce for products, services and even banking, distance and on-line education, and many others.

If you have any comments and/or suggestions please email to the Editor:

The Software Industry in 1999... Hot New Products and Less Bugs?

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The software industry is changing its rules in a radical fashion.

The "anything, anywhere, anytime" challenge of the internet is driving an estimated 10 million developers and researchers to make the internet better, faster, safer and even more easier to use. The market therefore is expanding. Expect babies to get a web address and an email address as they were born, and everybody, including grandma to send live digital images from one continent to the other to celebrate a birthday party!

Frightening? No. After all we, R&D engineers always wanted this sort of world... didn't we? Even if the transition is not always smooth.... and is a never ending process... good for jobs and hopefully will make the world a better place to live for all of us, including us, nature and the environment, which is the ultimate goal!

As an executive summary of what is likely to happen in the software industry in 1999 and beyond, expect the following:

If you have any comments and/or suggestions please email to the Editor:

Y2K, or the Year 2000 challenge (Tips and Ideas)...

What is the challenge?

Traditionally, despite the fact that most people on Mother Earth have expected year 2000 to arrive, software applications have been written with two digit year fields, instead of the more logical four digit year fields.

What is the consequence?

If you tried to use applications after the millennium without any changes the software will sort the date as follows: 00, 01, 98, 99, meaning that any record created in year 2000 will be put in the wrong collating sequence, i.e. 2000, 2001, 1998, 1999. Obviously what we all want is to carry on as usual with 1998, then 1999, then 2000 and 2001 and so on. (This is called the year 2000 compliant sequence).

How to fix this problem?

The suggested steps are as follows:

The survey process can be time consuming or relatively simple, depending on how well you understand your current environment. Try to look at your potential problem areas by following a

As an outcome of this surveying process you need to have a clear picture of what needs to be changed/ done!

During the planning process you have to understand the scope of your year 2000 problem. Depending on the severeness of the problem you might have to reschedule several new developments, recruit consultants, ally your company with other more experienced companies, re-assign major jobs, etc. This can be serious, do not underestimate this!

As an outcome of this process you need to appoint a solid management team to take care of the Y2K issue!

Implement the changes by dividing the project into manageable chunks following an effective strategy as follows:

The outcome of this process should be working code.

The occasional additional challenge here is that often new bugs are introduced as the appetite grows for not just Y2K but other long awaited changes too. Be conservative and focus on what MUST be done first!

Also note, that there are software packages that can automatically read and change source code, most notably COBOL, to become year 2000 compliant. Most importantly test any such software before you let it "chew up" your software assets!

The cleanup and maintenance procedure should start with the proper documentation of the changes, then carry on by eliminating any applications that duplicate work or are obsolete, and then by making plans for future improvements.

Finally, you'll need staff even in and after 2000 to cope with problems that haven't been anticipated... so don't book your 2 months long holiday to the remote islands of the Bahamas yet...

Important test dates

Since "9999" is a popular end-of-file marker, its presence as non-standard data in date fields is a very common Y2K problem. In order to help to resolve Y2K problems, let us list some critical test dates:

As an example, according to more than 90% of the US federal government's 6,399 most important systems should be year 2000-compliant by March 31, the goal set for all federal agencies, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

The projection was made in March 1999 with the release of the government's eighth quarterly report on year 2000 progress among federal agencies. Only 79% of the key systems were compliant as of Feb. 12, when agencies filed their reports to the Office of Management and Budget, part of the Executive Office of the President. The agencies reported 61% compliance in the prior quarter.

Five agencies, including Social Security and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, reported 100% compliance. Three agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Transportation, were classified as making inadequate progress. For example, only 53% of the mission-critical systems at the DOT were reported compliant.

(Psst... MACs never had a Y2K problem...)

If you have any comments and/or suggestions please email to the Editor:

Marketing Tips for Trade Shows...

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Due to rising business travel expenses as well as the increasing influence of the internet as an information provider and cyberspace trade show opportunity, trade show attendence levels are dropping in the USA, as well as elsewhere. The quality of attendence on the other hand is increasing. These are those engineers and managers who are pushed on due dates thus are keen to put their hands on the real thing and take a decision on the spot or very soon after the show.

Please find some advice on strategies that can maximize your trade show success; many of them applicable not just to the physical, but to the cyberspace, virtual trade show aspects too:

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More to come... under continuous development!

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