Stanley Black & Decker, at its annual shareholder meeting April 16, touted its line of RFID-embedded “smart tools” as the future of the industrial tool market.
The company’s ProtoID tools – such as sockets, wrenches and pliers – have RFID chips that are embedded in the tools (not applied to the exterior) so that they can be located at any time. The company also offers CribMaster storage cabinets that automatically keep track of the RFID-embedded tools.
“It’s especially important for people in airplane hangars, on military bases or in other critical applications where mechanics need to know where every single socket is, for instance, before a plane can fly or before a Hummer can leave its garage,” said John F. Lundgren, chairman and CEO of the company.
The CribMaster website notes that “whether it’s due to waste, hoarding, or even theft, inefficient tracking and control of these inventory items can quickly cause major problems.”
At the shareholders meeting, Lundgren said: “These tools make facilities and workers both safer and more productive, and we believe they’re the future of the industrial tool market.”
The Corporate Executive Board’s “Risk Integration Strategy Council (RISC)” has released the January 2011 “Emerging Risks Update,” (pdf) noting the following risks on the horizon for enterprise risk managers:
Leaks of sensitive corporate information like strategic planning documents or embarrassing memos (think Wikileaks, which is on its way to becoming a verb, like Google). Strategy: Bolster information security, especially as “new technologies and platforms like cloud computing, SaaS, and social networking gain prominence.”
Shortage of rare earth minerals, an essential component of clean energy technology, computers and electronics (e.g., mobile phones). China controls 97%. Strategy: Other countries (including the U.S.) with deposits of rare earth minerals can open or re-open their mines, “but it can take up to  years for a new mine to begin operations.” Meanwhile, “world leaders” must discourage China from unfairly exploiting its position. Continue reading “Four emerging risks for corporations”
Science-fiction author David Brin explains his method of examining the future:
“The top method is simply to stay keenly attuned to trends in the laboratories and research centres around the world, taking note of even things that seem impractical or useless,” says Brin. “You then ask yourself: ‘What if they found a way to do that thing ten thousand times as quickly/powerfully/well? What if someone weaponised it? Monopolised it? Or commercialised it, enabling millions of people to do this new thing, routinely? What would society look like, if everybody took this new thing for granted?'”
Those are good questions, as far as they go. My methodology for examining new developments (especially technologies) is to ask additional questions, some with a decidedly negative slant:
- What if it runs into legal or political problems?
- What if it can be used by criminals?
- What if it raises ethical or religious objections?
- What if people prefer doing it the “old way”?
- What if a cheaper alternative overtakes it?
- What if it’s too expensive to make or distribute (in volume)?
- What if it lacks the necessary ecosystem or support infrastructure?
- What if it runs smack into a counter-trend?
- What if entrenched interests squelch it?
- What if it has unintended consequences?
- What if the roll-out is botched, glitchy, underfunded, embarrassing?
And, when will it emerge from the Hype Cycle‘s “peak of inflated expectations” and “trough of disillusionment”?
You know how generals tend to prepare to fight the last war. It appears that chief financial officers (CFO) worry about a repeat of the most recent disasters but have trouble identifying future risks. The risks that CFOs say will be their greatest concerns over the next five years — financial meltdowns and supply-chain disruptions — are the disasters that have happened in the last few years, according to an article and survey by CFO magazine.
Top risks identified by 168 senior finance executives
- Financial exposure (51%)
- Supply-chain/logistics disruption (37%)
- Legal liability/reputational harm (35%)
- Technology failure (33%)
- Security breach (23%)
Multiple responses allowed.
Source: CFO Research Services and Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., June 2010
“The research suggests that many companies would benefit from a more forward-looking approach to managing risk,” the article says Continue reading “What CFOs worry about”
Why do firms fail when faced with new technology or innovation? Clayton M. Christensen’s theory of disruptive technology asserts that the dominant/incumbent firm dismisses the early version of the technology as inferior and fails to respond to its development. But a study titled “Demystifying Disruption,” by Ashish Sood and Gerard Tellis, finds that incumbents produced disruptive (replacement) technologies just as often as those pesky up-starts.
The results of their analysis suggest that many aspects of the disruptive technologies theory are exaggerated.
In fact, the incumbents produced more than half of the new technologies that superseded the previous dominant technology.
In other words, Tellis says, the start-up slaying Goliath makes a good story, but represents only a small fraction of all cases. Continue reading “Complacency bad. Foresight good.”