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January 11, 2008 17:19 ET
ARMONK, ny--(Marketwire - January eleven, 2008) - IBM (NYSE: IBM) introduced nowadays that it is working with the Wakefern meals organization to set up superior IBM element-of-sale (POS) systems, utility and infrared contact shows.
A recent IBM analyze of the grocery industry identified consumer journey as a primary driver of loyalty. With trendy announcement, Wakefern is moving to convey essentially the most superior functionality and expertise to ShopRite stores, allowing personnel to deliver an improved shopping experience to consumers.
"ShopRite stores have all the time supplied their consumers with highest comfort, competitive expenditures and ingenious items and services," mentioned Alan Aront, vice president of assistance programs, Wakefern. "The functionality, reliability and open requisites that we're implementing with IBM application and hardware will enable us to convey chronic innovations to their shoppers in less time."
In collaboration with IBM and Agilysys, an IBM company associate, Wakefern will installation IBM's SurePOS software customer/Server environment (ACE), an application that optimizes customer carrier and improves reliability at the point-of-sale device, and IBM's save Integrator on the IBM 4690 working gadget. keep Integrator is designed to help maximize customer provider and associate productiveness, and is a component of IBM's keep Integration Framework (SIF). SIF provides an entire, flexible and powerful retail-optimized infrastructure to boost store-centered tactics and connect them with the business.
ShopRite shops additionally could be upgraded with IBM SurePOS seven hundred POS terminals and servers and IBM SurePoint 4820 touch shows at all investigate-out lanes.
Wakefern is the use of an IBM digital advertising business (EME) answer aimed at improving its consumer loyalty program. The EME solution offers ShopRite employees instant access to customer information, and a straightforward manner to promote offers and carry customized advertising and marketing messages in the keep earlier than checkout.
The agreement between the two businesses changed into signed in December of 2007.
About Wakefern meals agency:
Wakefern food company is the nation's largest retailer-owned grocery cooperative, featuring capabilities to a hundred ninety ShopRite outlets in New Jersey, manhattan, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Delaware.
About IBM Retail shop solutions:
With greater than 30 years of element-of-sale (POS) market management, IBM and its community of IBM business companions provide agents of all sizes keep options, together with innovative hardware and software products and a broad array of consulting and technical capabilities that may aid raise sales and reduce fees. For greater tips about IBM Retail keep options, please consult with www.ibm.com/retail
currently released experiences from two investment research organisations call into question simply precisely where IBM fits within the cloud computing market.
Deutsche bank’s Markets research group issued a note titled “Why IBM received’t seize AWS,” which argues that IBM’s focal point on hybrid cloud computing puts the business in a different, and smaller, market than Amazon web services.
another file from united statesglobal analysis focused extra extensively on the cloud computing market and referred to IBM may still be regarded among the “massive four” providers in cloud: AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform.
The conflicting reports show IBM is sitting on the perimeter of the cloud market.
+more AT network WORLD: First financial institutions, now health care groups are warming as much as the cloud +
while different infrastructure friends have “thrown in the towel,” Deutsche bank gives IBM credit score for spending $2 billion to acquire SoftLayer in 2013 and on account that then make investments greater than $1 billion to expand its cloud footprint. despite these investments, Deutsche financial institution says IBM hasn’t considered the same market demand for its capabilities as opponents. AWS had 64% income increase and Azure had 120% within the first quarter this year; IBM’s had been in the reduce double-digits. Deutsche financial institution notes that IBM earns greater than $5 billion in “as a carrier” earnings yearly, however most effective $seven hundred million is from SoftLayer, making IBM’s public cloud larger than Google’s cloud revenues, however half the size of Azure.
UBS, having said that says IBM’s positioning makes it among the crop of leaders within the cloud market: “u.s.proof Lab facts means that cloud is not a winner-take-all market, with many purchasers trying to add instead of consolidate vendors.” AWS, Azure, GCP and IBM all have probability to compete in what is usually a $100 billion market with the aid of 2020; the ‘big 4’ carriers could command ninety two% of this market, the document notes.
united statessays AWS and GCP have essentially the most to gain from a shift towards the public cloud; carriers most negatively exposed from the upward thrust of cloud include Hewlett Packard enterprise, EMC, Cisco, NetApp, Rackspace and Brocade. It’s greater “mixed” for Oracle, IBM and Arista Networks, u.s.a.says.
Deutsche bank seems to be more important with IBM’s center of attention on “bare metal” clouds, which are non-virtualized infrastructure choices. Deutsche financial institution says here is a plenty smaller total addressable market in comparison to the general public IaaS cloud offerings from the other three suppliers. “We conclude that IBM SoftLayer is losing ground to AWS and Microsoft Azure within the ‘public cloud’ market and is more and more being not noted of the dialog,” the report notes. “Relative to those peers, IBM SoftLayer additionally has server potential, technical in addition to premium provider gaps and is commonly priced above its peers for shared virtualized servers. via specializing in ‘hybrid’ and ‘bare metallic’ use cases and the IBM consumer base, IBM goes after a special audience with a special feature set. in the public cloud, it’s now just a three-horse race: Amazon, Microsoft and Google.”
UBS, in the meantime notes that AWS leads in IaaS and PaaS market share with 32%, followed through Azure at 13%, but IBM comes in with 7% and Google at 6%.
The distinctive perspectives of the experiences emphasize how the cloud computing market remains evolving. closing year in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for IaaS, IBM received high marks, however the handiest two groups in the “leaders” category had been AWS, which become with the aid of far the chief available in the market, and Azure.
IBM focuses no longer most effective on hybrid cloud computing, but also the usage of open source accessories in its choices. The business also has a large choice of services across the IaaS, PaaS (BlueMix) and SaaS markets. IBM declined to touch upon this story.join the network World communities on facebook and LinkedIn to comment on issues that are precise of mind.
IBM to Open Quantum Computation middle for commercial customers in Poughkeepsie, ny
YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, new york, Jan. 8, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- at the 2019 buyer Electronics show (CES), IBM (NYSE: IBM) these days unveiled IBM Q device One™, the realm's first built-in standard approximate quantum computing system designed for scientific and industrial use. IBM also introduced plans to open its first IBM Q Quantum Computation core for business shoppers in Poughkeepsie, new york in 2019.
IBM Q techniques are designed to someday handle problems that are at the moment viewed as too complicated and exponential in nature for classical systems to handle. Future purposes of quantum computing may additionally consist of finding new easy methods to model financial records and isolating key world risk factors to make improved investments, or discovering the ideal route throughout world techniques for ultra-efficient logistics and optimizing fleet operations for deliveries.
Designed through IBM scientists, methods engineers and industrial designers, IBM Q gadget One has a complicated, modular and compact design optimized for stability, reliability and continual business use. For the first time ever, IBM Q equipment One permits prevalent approximate superconducting quantum computer systems to operate past the confines of the analysis lab.
tons as classical computers combine distinctive components into an integrated structure optimized to work together, IBM is making use of the equal approach to quantum computing with the first built-in prevalent quantum computing system. IBM Q system One is produced from a number of custom components that work together to serve as the most advanced cloud-primarily based quantum computing application obtainable, together with:
The IBM Q Quantum Computation center
The IBM Q Quantum Computation center opening later this yr in Poughkeepsie, ny, will expand the IBM Q network business quantum computing program, which already includes systems at the Thomas J. Watson research core in Yorktown, ny. This new middle will apartment some of the world's most superior cloud-based mostly quantum computing methods, which should be accessible to participants of the IBM Q community, a global group of main Fortune 500 organizations, startups, educational institutions, and national analysis labs working with IBM to strengthen quantum computing and explore useful purposes for business and science.
IBM Poughkeepsie's interesting historical past in computing stretches lower back to the development of IBM's first line of creation enterprise computer systems within the 1950s, the IBM seven hundred collection, and the IBM system/360 in the 1960s, which revolutionized the realm by means of altering the style agencies notion about computing device hardware. Now home to one of the most world's most-powerful classical system, the IBM mainframe, IBM Poughkeepsie is located to be one of the few areas on this planet with the technical capabilities, infrastructure and competencies to run a quantum computation middle, together with entry to high efficiency computing systems and a high availability statistics middle obligatory to work alongside quantum computer systems.
"The IBM Q gadget One is an immense step ahead within the commercialization of quantum computing," spoke of Arvind Krishna, senior vice president of Hybrid Cloud and director of IBM research. "This new system is vital in increasing quantum computing past the partitions of the analysis lab as they work to enhance purposeful quantum purposes for business and science."
Designing a first: IBM Q device One
IBM assembled a global-category group of industrial designers, architects, and manufacturers to work alongside IBM analysis scientists and programs engineers to design IBM Q equipment One, including UK industrial and indoors design studios Map challenge workplace and widespread Design Studio, and Goppion, a Milan-based mostly company of high-conclusion museum display circumstances that protect one of the world's most beneficial paintings including the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, and the Crown Jewels on the Tower of London.
together these collaborators designed the primary quantum system to consolidate thousands of add-ons into a tumbler-enclosed, air-tight ambiance developed in particular for business use, a milestone in the evolution of industrial quantum computers.
This integrated equipment aims to address one of the most difficult features of quantum computing: normally maintaining the satisfactory of qubits used to function quantum computations. potent yet gentle, qubits immediately lose their particular quantum houses, customarily inside a hundred microseconds (for state-of-the-artwork superconducting qubits), due partly to the interconnected machinery's ambient noise of vibrations, temperature fluctuations, and electromagnetic waves. insurance policy from this interference is considered one of many the reason why quantum computers and their components require careful engineering and isolation.
The design of IBM Q device One comprises a 9-foot-tall, 9-foot-vast case of half-inch thick borosilicate glass forming a sealed, airtight enclosure that opens with ease the usage of "roto-translation," a motor-driven rotation round two displaced axes engineered to simplify the equipment's maintenance and upgrade procedure while minimizing downtime – one more ingenious trait that makes the IBM Q gadget One suitable to respectable industrial use.
A series of unbiased aluminum and steel frames unify, however additionally decouple the device's cryostat, control electronics, and exterior casing, helping to stay away from competencies vibration interference that leads to "section jitter" and qubit decoherence.
a replica of IBM Q gadget One might be on screen at CES. For extra guidance discuss with, right here.
This new equipment marks the next evolution of IBM Q, the trade's first effort to introduce the general public to programmable regularly occurring quantum computing throughout the cloud-based mostly IBM Q event, and the commercial IBM Q community platform for enterprise and science purposes. The free and publicly accessible IBM Q event has been continually working considering that may of 2016 and now boasts greater than a hundred,000 users, who've run greater than 6.7 million experiments and posted greater than a hundred thirty third-celebration analysis papers. developers have also downloaded Qiskit, a full-stack, open-source quantum utility building package, greater than one hundred forty,000 instances to create and run quantum computing courses. The IBM Q community includes the contemporary additions of Argonne national Laboratory, CERN, ExxonMobil, Fermilab, and Lawrence Berkeley country wide Laboratory.
About IBM Q
IBM Q is an industry-first initiative to build commercial conventional quantum methods for enterprise and science functions. For extra information about IBM's quantum computing efforts, please talk over with www.ibm.com/ibmq.
IBM Q network™, IBM Q gadget One™, and IBM Q™ are emblems of foreign business Machines organization.
Media Contact:Chris NayIBM analysis Communicationscnay@us.ibm.com 720-349-2032
A rendering of IBM Q system One, the world's first completely built-in common quantum computing gadget, currently installed on the Thomas J Watson research core in Yorktown Heights, manhattan, where IBM scientists are the usage of it to discover device advancements and enhancements that accelerate industrial applications of this transformational expertise. For the first time ever, IBM Q system One permits quantum computer systems to operate past the confines of the analysis lab.more
IBM service provider brandgreater
Video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAA0-vjTaNY photograph - http://globalfinance.zenfs.com/en_us/Finance/US_AFTP_PRNEWSWIRE_LIVE/IBM_Unveils_Worlds_First_Integrated-672ce9b7de87d5afdfc16ad47fe641d0Logo - http://globalfinance.zenfs.com/en_us/Finance/US_AFTP_PRNEWSWIRE_LIVE/IBM_Unveils_Worlds_First_Integrated-43eb5753c7bd118025a0bef1268e2a90
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January 11, 2008 17:19 ET
ARMONK, NY--(Marketwire - January 11, 2008) - IBM (NYSE: IBM) announced today that it is working with the Wakefern Food Corporation to deploy advanced IBM point-of-sale (POS) systems, software and infrared touch displays.
A recent IBM study of the grocery industry identified customer experience as a primary driver of loyalty. With today's announcement, Wakefern is moving to bring the most advanced functionality and technology to ShopRite stores, allowing employees to deliver a better shopping experience to consumers.
"ShopRite stores have always provided their customers with maximum convenience, competitive prices and innovative products and services," said Alan Aront, Vice President of Information Systems, Wakefern. "The functionality, reliability and open standards that they are implementing with IBM software and hardware will enable us to deliver continual innovations to their customers in less time."
In collaboration with IBM and Agilysys, an IBM Business Partner, Wakefern will install IBM's SurePOS Application Client/Server Environment (ACE), an application that optimizes customer service and improves reliability at the point-of-sale system, and IBM's Store Integrator on the IBM 4690 operating system. Store Integrator is designed to help maximize customer service and associate productivity, and is part of IBM's Store Integration Framework (SIF). SIF provides a complete, flexible and robust retail-optimized infrastructure to enhance store-centered processes and connect them with the enterprise.
ShopRite stores also will be upgraded with IBM SurePOS 700 POS terminals and servers and IBM SurePoint 4820 Touch displays at all check-out lanes.
Wakefern is using an IBM Electronic Marketing Enterprise (EME) solution aimed at improving its customer loyalty program. The EME solution gives ShopRite employees immediate access to customer data, and an easy way to promote offers and deliver personalized marketing messages in the store prior to checkout.
The agreement between the two companies was signed in December of 2007.
About Wakefern Food Corporation:
Wakefern Food Corporation is the nation's largest retailer-owned grocery cooperative, providing services to 190 ShopRite stores in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Delaware.
About IBM Retail Store Solutions:
With more than 30 years of point-of-sale (POS) market leadership, IBM and its network of IBM Business Partners provide retailers of all sizes store solutions, including innovative hardware and software products and a broad array of consulting and technical services that can help increase sales and reduce costs. For more information about IBM Retail Store Solutions, please visit www.ibm.com/retail
(FORTUNE Magazine) – Chances are pretty good that Beth Malloy will play a major role in making a scientific discovery that may one day save your life. A laboratory technician on the cardiovascular research team at Genentech, the biotechnology company in South San Francisco, Malloy, 35, isolates and analyzes rare proteins found in plasma, the substances that when cloned form the building blocks of biotech drugs. A decade ago the mastery of such esoteric procedures was the province of Nobel laureates. Now, Malloy, a chemist with a master's degree from San Francisco State University, and many of Genentech's 369 other science technologists perform these miracles routinely. She and her colleagues are but a small part of the large and rapidly growing population of technicians -- a new worker elite who are transforming the American labor force and potentially every organization that employs them. As the farm hand was to the agrarian economy of a century ago and the machine operator was to the electromechanical industrial era of recent decades, the technician is becoming the core employee of the digital Information Age. The trend reflects what Stephen R. Barley, an ethnographer at Stanford University's school of engineering, describes as the "technization" of American labor. The sheer growth in the number of technicians and the diversity of occupations they hold bespeak a profound change in their importance to companies that hope to survive and thrive in an era of epochal change. Since 1950 the number of technical workers has increased nearly 300% -- triple the growth rate for the work force as a whole -- to some 20 million. With one out of every four new jobs going to a technical worker, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts that this army of techno-competents -- already the largest broad occupational category in the U.S. -- will represent a fifth of total employment within a decade (see chart). The convergence of two large forces are giving technicians new importance. First, increasingly powerful, versatile, and user-friendly new technologies -- from the software that electronics technicians use to test printed circuitboards to the automated protein analyzers Beth Malloy programs to run experiments -- are eliminating the need for workers to perform many time- consuming routine tasks, the donkey work of the advanced industrial age. Thus they are freed to tackle more challenging activities that require judgment and skills. Second, as more companies rely on technology to help eliminate quality defects, speed up product development, and improve customer service, technicians become the front-line workers they depend on. So thoroughly has technology suffused the workplace that technical workers are beginning to emerge from the virtually invisible middling stratum they've traditionally occupied. No longer are they mere subordinates to managers and just a notch above the less-skilled blue- and pink-collar masses. As corporate hierarchies collapse and the boundaries between organizations dissolve, employers are beginning to gain a new appreciation for the work technicians do -- and their insights into how it should be done. In the new economy, says Michael Arthur, a management professor at Suffolk University in Boston, it is competence rather than a place in a hierarchical pecking order that defines an employee's value: "Technical occupations are becoming the new anchor for people's careers." Who better for the smart employer to enlist in the effort to gain a competitive edge than those who actually man the equipment that will carry us into the future? Technical workers help design, manufacture, and service the wondrous medical devices that allow hospital technologists to peer into the body's tissue. Engineering technicians test the integrity of materials used in the construction of bridges, buildings, and dams. They are the developers and caretakers of the computer and telecommunications networks that keep your business running, and they produce the dazzling computer-graphic presentations that help your sales force land new customers. Technicians bring varying levels of formal education and credentials to their work. Many enter technical fields with no more than a high school diploma and a splash of training acquired on the job. Since the smaller armed forces of today no longer turn out technicians in the numbers they did during the Cold War years, more aspiring technical workers are coming to these careers from a trade school or a community college. And an ever-increasing number of them have a four-year university education or advanced degrees. According to projections made by BLS economist Kristina J. Shelley, the number of college graduates who take jobs in technical fields will grow by 75%, to 2.2 million, over the coming decade. To profit fully from the expanded opportunities open to them in the new economy requires that technical workers -- and the companies that employ them -- adopt a new mindset. Because many technicians enter the labor force as hourly employees, they too often view the work they do as a job instead of as the foundation of a career. The distinction is growing more critical. Jobholders, Suffolk University's Arthur explains, perform a limited range of tasks within the context of a specific organization. Careerists, by contrast, define themselves by the cluster of skills they bring to their work -- competencies that are transferable from employer to employer and which they can expand over the course of their working lives. They're ever on the prowl for the next exciting project to work on. And companies that would harness their talents must learn new lessons of how to manage, motivate, and reward them accordingly.
-- Give your technical workers room to grow -- or someone else will. Richard Mixon, 41, is one of the new breed who is actively managing his career. A senior electronics engineering technician in the seismic testing division of the Western Atlas oil exploration company in Houston, Mixon early on made it his mission to seek out jobs that would allow him to grow. "I wanted to have a broad enough spectrum of skills to be able to fit into any technical environment," he says. The son of a construction worker, Richard studied electronics for two years at the University of Houston with the aim of working in the computer industry. Lacking the funds to continue his studies, however, he took a job with IBM ! repairing office equipment. The five years he spent as a service representative taught him valuable lessons in how to deal with customers, but it wasn't getting him any closer to his goal of working with engineers who design computer circuitboards. He left IBM, in 1978, to join Texas Instruments, which hired him to repair integrated-circuit test systems. Inside a year, Mixon realized that without a four-year engineering degree his chances for advancement with TI were limited. But he could see that printed-circuit technology was beginning to spread to many other industries besides computers -- and with it, his opportunities to take on more challenging projects. So when he learned about an opening for an electronics lab technician at Halliburton, an oil-field services company that was booming in the energy-short years of the early 1980s, he jumped. The move exposed Mixon to the kind of work he had been longing to do. Over the next nine years at Halliburton and, later at Schlumberger, which offered him both more money and more interesting assignments, Mixon assisted electronics design engineers in developing circuitboards that would go into the latest geologic data-acquisition equipment. Despite the challenge, after a while Mixon could see no further career advancement awaiting him at Schlumberger, so he began to look for opportunities outside the company. A recruiter sounded him out about moving to a bigger job with Western Atlas, and he grabbed the offer. In his current position, Mixon is helping to develop an electronic sensing system that will be used to locate oil. In addition to working on the design of new circuitry, he is the point man delegated to work with manufacturing to bring the new gear quickly into production. And he's always on the lookout for new tasks to take on. Says Mixon: "It's better to ask for forgiveness than for permission." Mixon's ultimate goal is to build on the broad technical base by starting his own business.More from Fortune Will Mmmhops be a hit? NBA confirms L.A. Clippers sale to ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer FBI and SEC probe into Carl Icahn and golfer Phil Mickelson FORTUNE 500 Current Issue Subscribe to Fortune
-- Technical workers are moving from the back office to the customer interface. With the new corporate focus on customer satisfaction, companies like TIE Communications, a telecommunications equipment supplier with annual revenues of $110 million, are relying more heavily on their technicians. TIE hopes to win market share from its scores of smaller rivals and crack new markets that the big regional phone companies are leaving behind. But executives at TIE's headquarters in Overland Park, Kansas, realized that growth would not come simply by pushing more hardware. They also needed to distinguish their company with superior customer service. Falling prices for telecom gear were bringing products like videoteleconferencing equipment and advanced multiplexers for data transmission within reach of the small and midsize businesses that TIE targets. Problem was, the new, integrated black-box telephony is intimidatingly complex, some of it far beyond the servicing capabilities of many of TIE's 400 technicians. Says executive vice president Eric Carter: "Unless they did a better job of training them, their technicians would drive clients away." TIE set out to mold all of its technical service reps into, as Carter puts it, "ambassadors to the customers." The company contracted with the Corporate Educational Services division of DeVry Institute of Technology, a leading for- profit technical training academy that operates 13 schools throughout North America, to help design a curriculum. In addition to providing its technicians with a firm grounding in how the complex new circuitry and software work, TIE wanted the new courses to improve their communications skills so that they could help sell customers on new products and services. The training, which began last fall, brings groups of some 20 service reps from TIE's 58 district offices to Overland Park during the first two weeks of each month. TIE plans to cycle all of its technical workers through each of three progressively more advanced levels of training over the coming six years. An added benefit of this instruction: By mingling with colleagues from different offices, the customer service techs swap war stories on problems they've encountered in the field and take hands-on solutions back to work. Technicians who have been through the training's first phase are enthusiastic: Steve Barbier, 32, an eight-year TIE veteran in the St. Louis office, says the program "turned on major light bulbs." Barbier is a high school graduate who had worked his way up from the lowly $4.25-per-hour job of pulling cables to a skilled $16-an-hour position supervising new installations and more sophisticated equipment repair. But his limited understanding of the systems' inner workings made him reluctant to recommend to customers that they upgrade their networks with gear he was unsure he could service. That lack of confidence is no longer an issue. Says Barbier: "Where I would once take five steps back to avoid a problem, I now take two steps forward with a new solution that helps the customer, TIE, and me."
-- Today's technicians are tomorrow's executives. Some organizations are starting to make the mastery of a technical speciality the prerequisite for career growth. At Union Pacific, for example, all new employees who aspire to a management position must first become a "data integrity analyst." Why the hurdle? Union Pacific carries 13,000 shipments a day on 700 trains running on 19,000 miles of track. Coordinating that massive traffic flow poses a huge data management challenge, one that required a new approach to the rail business. Says national customer services vice president Jim Damman: "We saw that the company's future growth would depend more on the ability of their managers to be masters of technical data rather than overseers of the hourly workers." Since 1986, Union Pacific has been replacing the paper mountain of shipping orders, bills of lading, and invoices it once swapped with its customers and their shipping agents with a computerized electronic data interchange (EDI) system it has developed. Now, some two-thirds of all the railroad's client communications -- up from just 3% eight years ago -- are managed via EDI from a single customer-service center in St. Louis rather than through the 40 offices that formerly handled the unwieldy paper flow. Empowered by EDI, the data integrity analysts keep tabs on all of the customers' contacts with the railroad. They create detailed electronic profiles for each shipper that permit the customer service representatives to facilitate order taking or resolve questions. They also provide the information that dispatchers in Omaha use to track shipments and that clerks in accounting rely on for accurate billing information. Just as valuable as the huge improvement in efficiency that EDI has wrought (employee productivity at the St. Louis center is up 300% since 1986) are the fabulously rich strategic uses Union Pacific can make of the amassed data. The railroad's goal is to mine that treasure-trove to be able to offer customers higher value-added services tailored to their needs. Thus, veterans of the data integrity job, like Robyn Bohnert, are promoted to the more advanced technical roles of finding ways to organize the data for new business uses. Hired as a customer service representative in 1990, Bohnert, now 26, spent two years as a data integrity analyst. Last February she advanced to a position as project manager for new systems development, which pays her some $35,000 a year. Her job draws heavily not only on her technological skills but also on her knowledge of marketing. She uses the EDI customer profiles to build new databases that might, say, help a team that works with grain commodity shippers uncover evolving patterns in their usage of the railroad's services and sell them on new ones. She has also put her technical talent to use in helping Union Pacific improve its own performance, extracting from the databases she's created the sources of customer problems and how much it cost the railroad to address them. Says Bohnert: "We're just beginning to scratch the surface of the improvements that a technical analysis of the data will reveal."
-- Technical workers turn black-box technology into productivity gains. Long the jealously guarded privilege of management, access to information virtually defined power and status in the traditional corporate bureaucracy. But with the advent of networked computing, it is fast becoming the common wealth of every employee. Stephen Kellogg, the computer system administrator for an Atlanta engineering and architecture firm called Armour Cape & Pond (AC&P), plays midwife to that revolutionary change. Hired into the newly created position last October, Kellogg, 26, is responsible for the hardware and software that together make up AC&P's electronic umbilical cord to the 60 architects, drafters, and sales and administrative support staff in Atlanta and Washington. The job demands full use of the programming, systems-analysis, and electronics-maintenance skills he acquired in the Coast Guard and later developed at a technical institute. Keeping the system running and handholding the firm's neophyte computer users would be job enough to earn Kellogg his $30,000 annual compensation. But he must also keep data moving smoothly among the AC&P's computer workstations, allowing drafters to translate architect's concepts into full-scale renderings and keeping track of their frequent design changes. The network must also accommodate the sales force and allow the folks in accounting to track invoices, payments, and payrolls. Says Kellogg: "The payoff from the new technology comes when the whole organization applies its power to work in dramatically new ways." Kellogg is the one who makes sure that AC&P capitalizes fully on technological advances. To that end, he has formed a power-users' group, a | committee made up of staffers who are masters of the intricacies of the system. He calls on them to lead monthly training sessions open to all employees to quicken the spread of the best practices throughout the firm. Kellogg is also busily scouting out the newest hardware and applications software that will keep his firm on the cutting edge of technology. So important do AC&P partners see that task that they now include Kellogg in all their weekly meetings. "I see no limit to the potential growth of my role," he says.
-- The payoff from technical training is big. Automation of manufacturing has been a job killer for tens of thousands of semi-skilled industrial workers. But for factory technicians who know how to operate the new, computer- controlled production equipment, career opportunities have seldom been better. That's because, as Tom Blunt, a manufacturing consultant from Louisville, puts it: "Employers who automate but take people out of the process are lobotomizing their factories. A human is the cheapest, lightest, totally flexible and reprogrammable machine money can buy." Rockwell International's Allen-Bradley unit, a maker of industrial automation equipment since 1903, is getting more than its money's worth from the 140 technicians who operate its new Electronic Manufacturing Strategy (EMS) production lines. Through the late 1980s, most of the machine tools the company built lacked the smart internal controls that customers wanted. Unless it could leapfrog the competition by building in-house the specialized circuitboards its products lacked, the company would continue to lose market share to nimbler foreign companies. The challenge Allen-Bradley set for itself in developing EMS was formidable. The company offers 50 different product lines, and each would require several different boards of varying size and configuration. No company had ever produced so large a mix of such elaborate componentry in the low volumes needed to customize each finished product to customer specifications. EMS, which went on-line in 1990, met the exacting criteria. But what new kind of worker would it take to go mano a machino with the fearsomely efficient equipment? Answer: one with technical skills unlike any Allen-Bradley had required of its factory hands in the past. Most of the company's hourly production workers assembled simple electrical switches and relays, a repetitive job that required an iron butt to sit at a workbench for eight hours a day but little thinking. Working in EMS would be another story entirely. It demands that the specialist understand how the process operates in its entirety and be able to intervene whenever trouble arises. "Technicians are the doctors of the system," says Larry Yost, the senior vice president for the operations group that developed EMS. "They have to be able to respond to the countless ways the equipment can misalign components or encounter programming glitches." Rather than recruit these specialists from outside, Allen-Bradley decided to retrain volunteers from within its production ranks in the new technical skills. For Larry Hanson, 51, who joined the company out of high school in 1961 as an assembler, the new opportunity was a godsend. For years Hanson hungered to escape the tedium of his factory job, but with a growing family to support he couldn't afford to give up the job he had and move to another company. Hanson had applied for other technical manufacturing openings within Allen- Bradley but was passed up because he lacked the requisite skills. To remedy this deficiency and improve his chances of being accepted into EMS, he enrolled in computer programming courses at a local college. "There was nothing I liked about my job apart from my paycheck. I wasn't going to let anything stand in my way of joining this project," he says. Together with the other volunteers chosen for EMS, Hanson learned on the job how to sequence the flow of circuitboards through the system, spot potential defects in the spacing of components packed as close as 0.02-inch apart, and eliminate the bottlenecks that could slow production. They also spent two days a week after- hours for two years studying college-level algebra and trigonometry, computer programming, and principles of solid-state electronics manufacturing -- a curriculum developed and taught by the nearby Milwaukee School of Engineering and paid for by Allen-Bradley. The training is now continuing in a second two-year program with courses in cost accounting, business strategy, and team-building skills. Says technician Hanson of his new role: "My job is fascinating. There's not a day that doesn't fly by."
-- Technical workers demand recognition. As with most people who take pride in their work, technical specialists value recognition nearly as much as good pay. And today they have more options to get both. Office equipment repair technicians, nurses who provide home health care services, and computer-aided graphic artists and drafters, among many others, are discovering new outlets of career satisfaction by taking jobs in smaller companies whose principal business is to provide technical services. Rather than toil unappreciated for employers who fail to acknowledge the contribution they make, they are enjoying both the opportunity to stretch their abilities and the rewards that come with it in specialized firms. Dixie Williams, a paralegal by training, has accelerated her career from a stall to the fast track by making such a move to a litigation support services firm in Houston called Looney & Co. A 29-year-old Dallas native with the energy of a Texas twister, Williams is a college graduate who earned her paralegal certification by attending school five hours a night, five nights a week, for seven months while holding a full-time day job. Like most paralegals, she hired on with a law firm, in her case an $18,500 a year position -- the going rate in 1987 -- with a prominent Dallas practice. Not long into the job, however, Williams discovered the frustrations that come with being a junior professional in an outfit run by temperamental, big- ego attorneys. She expected to do research, interviewing witnesses, drafting pleadings, or assisting at trial as she was trained to do. Instead, her supervisor, whom Williams calls the "dungeon master," assigned her to a senior partner who gave her stultifying tasks like summarizing depositions and indexing documents. More grating for her was watching the choicer assignments -- ones she felt qualified for -- go to the firm's far-better-paid junior associates, the freshly minted law school graduates whom she derisively refers to as "baby attorneys." Williams's workload and morale improved dramatically after she successfully lobbied to be transferred to a job assisting another partner, who trusted her to take on a bigger role. She was given day-to-day oversight for some of the larger cases the partner supervised but which required only occasional direct involvement by an attorney. She also took it upon herself to learn how to research cases using the new computers the firm began to acquire in the late 1980s. Her new expertise helped win a major lawsuit in 1991, and made her one of the firm's most sought-after paralegals. But by then she recognized her career ceiling at the firm would be too low to contain her tall ambitions. Though she had doubled her initial salary, she saw that pay for the most senior $ paralegals topped out at some $60,000 a year by the time they retired -- about what the "baby attorneys" made to start. Williams's big break came when, in the course of assisting at a deposition, she met Richard Looney, then a court reporter. Looney, too, had seen the potential for applying to legal practice the power of computers and the optical scanner technology that converts text on paper documents into digital form the computers can "read." Few law firms would be able to make sufficient use of the computer technology to warrant the expense of purchasing it. By acquiring the latest equipment and hiring paralegals to use it to do the research that supports the litigation of major cases, he figured that he would be able to sell his company's services directly to insurance companies and other major corporations eager to cut their legal bills. Impressed with Dixie's computer know-how and paralegal skills, Looney hired her. Once aboard with Looney & Co. in 1992, nothing was going to hold Dixie back. She started in the Houston office, training other paralegals in the use of the equipment and in the legal procedures to which it would be applied. Within a year, Looney made her the office manager and put her in charge of hiring all the paralegals -- who now total 30 -- to staff three other offices he had opened throughout Texas. Williams's career switch has not just freed her from the frustrations of dealing with curmudgeonly "dungeon masters." With Looney & Co. revenues growing by some 20% a year to $7.7 million in 1993, she expects that her earnings will soon leave those of the "baby attorneys" in the dust. The new power of the technical work force is not only liberating employees from the monotony of the industrial age, but it is also providing companies with the know-how to alter their destiny -- to make competitive leaps, to break into new markets, and to offer their employees wider horizons and far more opportunity than any generation of workers has encountered before.
CHART: NOT AVAILABLE CREDIT: FORTUNE TABLE/SOURCE: BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS CAPTION: HOW THEY'RE GROWING Job growth for technicians will far outpace that for other workers over the coming decade, with paralegals and medical technicians setting the pace.
Aug. 29, 2018, 3:56 p.m.
Rupert Murdoch owning the New York Daily News? A McCormick controlling the Chicago Tribune again? The L.A. Times pulling a Washington Post, aiming to run the industry’s underlying infrastructure? A lot of change is coming soon.
While it still requires some deal jiu-jitsu, Tronc looks to be on the brink of being broken up.
Will Wyatt’s new Donerail Group, several confidential sources tell me, has now gotten the financing in place to do a deal to buy Tronc. Donerail would purchase Tronc’s 10 daily newspaper properties, take the company private, and then most likely sell the papers off to individual buyers — some of whom it already has lined up.Tronc’s been in play, quietly, for much of the year, but several pieces of the deal puzzle have only just fallen into place. (Donerail’s interest was first reported in early August by Reuters.) But it’s now become clear, through multiple insider accounts, how such a deal may work. A completed deal would likely come in as a $640 million to $700 million transaction. That would value Tronc shares somewhere above the $18 to $19 range; they trade at $17 today.
On the surface, the latest drama to envelop Tronc looks fairly straightforward. “Alternative investment” fund sees chaos and cash in the unending decline of the daily newspaper business, thinks it can make a buck.
Tronc being Tronc, though, nothing is as straightforward as it seems. Unsurprisingly, the characters that have starred in the company’s two-year dramedy — most prominently moneyman Michael Ferro and now L.A. Times owner Patrick Soon-Shiong — have assumed major roles, even if their parts have gone largely unreported.
If the Donerail deal goes through, it apparently requires Soon-Shiong throwing in with it. That means he would maintain his continuing 25 percent stake in Tronc — which he’s held onto throughout his long effort to buy the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union-Tribune. Soon-Shiong’s retention of that stake makes Wyatt’s financing of the deal possible; he only needs enough borrowing to pay off the other 75 percent of shareholders.
The apparent quid pro quo: Soon-Shiong would extend to other Tronc, or Tronc-sold, properties, the suite of newspaper technology services he’s trying to rapidly build. (The L.A. Times declined comment on Soon-Shiong’s tech intentions.)
There are a lot of moving, and dependent, pieces there, but insiders say that’s the contour of the deal currently in detailed final discussions.
If it works, Wyatt — an accomplished “event-driven” investor — gets his deal done and aims to make money selling off Tronc, title by title, city by city. Soon-Shiong gets to magnify the impact of his planned news technology strategies, aiming to combine the substantial engineering resources of his Nantworks technologies with those of news publishing — in part potentially replacing The Washington Post’s Arc platform, which has been rolling out across Tronc newspapers.
Still playing out in this deal: the odd relationship between Soon-Shiong and Michael Ferro. For a very short time — banding together to fend off a hostile Gannett bid only two years ago, though it feels like an eon in Tronc time — the two were allies. Since then, it’s been a war between the two: hot, cold, and then lukewarm enough for Soon-Shiong to complete his purchase of the Times from Tronc in June.
But the tale of the two doesn’t stop there.
While #metoo allegations forced Ferro out of his formal chairman role in March, he’s kept a steady hand behind CEO Justin Dearborn’s tiller — among other things figuring out a new way to pocket a $7.5 million payoff from the company, a move just reported in federal filings this month and detailed below.Formally, Ferro still heads up Merrick Media, the group of Chicago-based investors that owns a quarter of Tronc. His investors, as I have noted, want out. So Ferro has been trying for months to swing some kind of deal to get that stake sold, and at an above-market price.
In April, he announced a deal with McCormick Media to cash out Merrick at a hefty premium, intended to net $208.7 million. But that deal fell through, prompting my satiric (and premature) Ferro obit.
In the months since, he’s been working another deal — to sell the whole company.
That’s where Donerail fits in. Its head, Will Wyatt, is no stranger to Ferro. In fact, his then-employer Starboard Value took a position in Tronc as it fended off Gannett in 2016, reports the Chicago Tribune’s Robert Channick. In his days at Starboard, the company became quite familiar with Tribune Publishing, Tribune Media (its then-broadcast sibling) and then Tronc. Wyatt himself played a role as a “consultant” to Tronc on the L.A. Times sale to Soon-Shiong, so he became well in touch with all the players.
That’s what led to the approach of keeping Soon-Shiong in the ownership group — and satisfying his strategic aims. Soon-Shiong could want to just cash out of his holdings, and has assessed the market for his quarter-share, say sources. Alternatively, he can look at his participation in a new ownership group as an opportunity to further his “100-year plan” to transform news media.
The Times’ technology transition, after the closing of the sale, continues to be problematic. Though a Transition Services Agreement — that long held up the closing of the Times sale, as I reported — is in place, the process has been arduous.
And that’s where part of the deal jiu-jitsu resides. Soon-Shiong, who recently hired technology talent back from Tronc, wants to reverse the proposition. He would like the new Times, say sources, to build out and own the kinds of technologies — including artificial intelligence-directed predictive analytics — and then provide them more widely to newspaper companies.
It’s a big vision. One issue: timing. While Soon-Shiong’s vision and financial capacity are clear, little is now built. If the Donerail deal should proceed, with Soon-Shiong’s technology services as part of a package sold to buyers of individual properties, what exactly would be available to them — and when?
Curiously, this deal could get done without clear answers to those questions.Buying Tronc: Where’s the value?
Tronc doesn’t seem like a big prize.
As public newspaper companies reported their second-quarter results, Tronc managed to turn in the worse revenue performance among all its peers. Tronc lost 11 percent, year-over-year, in Q2. No one did better than a 4.9 percent loss, which GateHouse recorded, but none of other groups dipped into double-digit downturn territory.
The company’s major news of the quarter: slashing the New York Daily News newsroom in half, in an effort to turn the Ferro-bought property from a big ongoing loss to break-even. Tronc maintains its 2018 profit forecast only by ramping up the cutting of expenses, including newsroom staff.
(The only good recent news? Today’s International Trade Commission ruling reversed the new tariffs on Canadian newsprint. Those tariff-related price increases had dinged Tronc earnings by $2.5 million in the second quarter alone. Newsprint pricing should now ease into the final quarter of the year, helping Tronc and newspaper budgets overall.)
At a price of $640 million to $700 million, Wyatt’s new group would pay a relatively high multiple for the company — about 5× its 2018 forecast EBITDA. At that hefty price, close financial observers in the news industry share a common (if not-for-attribution) view: Where’s the value?
Yes, eliminating Tronc’s corporate headquarters staff provides some financial rationale for a split-up, but that seems inadequate to justify the math. Those brokering the business of selling and buying newspapers scratch their heads at Donerail’s reported interest.
Common to an increasing number of buyers these days, Wyatt hasn’t talked publicly about his interest — or about what he intends to do with Tronc’s 10 papers if he lands them. (My efforts to reach him were unsuccessful.) In fact, as he’s acknowledged privately recently: “My background’s not in operating companies.” It’s in buying — and quickly selling.
Hence this emerging conventional wisdom: Donerail would split Tronc up, selling the parts.In this scenario, the likely strategy would be to find “hometown buyers like Patrick Soon-Shiong.” Translation: Find “civic buyers,” the kinds of wealthy individuals (or small groups of wealthy individuals) who still see value in the local newspaper brand and institution. (I called this small group the 50-50 men four years ago, as a few of them entered the business, an entry that has produced quite mixed results.) Then win an above-market price for each property, as Tronc did at selling the Times to Soon-Shiong for (effectively) $600 million.
“How many of those people are really out there still?” one newspaper CEO asked me this week. “Are there really people in Baltimore, Hartford, and Chicago ready to buy…I wouldn’t go ahead with any deal to buy Tronc unless I had agreements with buyers in at least some of those cities,” he said.
At least a couple of buyers may be in the wings, and it’s possible such “letters of intent” are out there.McCormick Media, led by Sargent McCormick, a distant relative of Colonel McCormick of Chicago Tribune lore, could re-enter the picture. While its first effort to buy Merrick Media’s shares fizzled, the group has maintained its interest. Now, sources say, McCormick Media could either become a Donerail partner in a wider Tronc buy, or buy the hometown Chicago Tribune itself out of such a deal. Sargent McCormick declined comment on the company’s next moves.
Donerail would probably want to quickly dispatch the financially problematic New York Daily News. There, says one source, Rupert Murdoch, owner of the rival New York Post is set to pounce, paying $1 for the paper. (Aug. 30 update: “We have no interest whatsoever in the Daily News. They have not approached Tronc and will not be approaching Tronc.”)
Hearst remains a logical buyer for the Hartford Courant, given its Connecticut strength, though in the past has seemed uninterested in buying it.
In Baltimore, various civic names have been bandied about for years as potential buyers. It’s unclear which of them, or which new candidates, might now be interested. All of Tronc’s newspaper businesses have continued to shrink and weaken in the interim.
Then there’s likely GateHouse Media interest in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, adjacent to two significant properties it owns there, and perhaps Tronc’s Allentown and/or Virginia properties.
That would mean a new combination of insiders and outsiders replacing Tronc.
As newspaper industry people contemplate more “outsiders” entering their once-close fraternity, they’ve gotten lessons in vulture investing (via Alden Global Capital’s strategy). Now they can ponder “event-driven” buying.
As a principal at Starboard Value, and before that at Empyrean Capital and Magnetar Capital, Wyatt has specialized in “event-driven” investment. In plain language, that means seizing on an investment opportunity “after a corporate event, such as a bankruptcy, merger, acquisition, or spinoff,” at which point “the event-driven investor will purchase the stock of the company to be acquired, and sell it after the acquisition, when its price has risen to the acquisition price (or greater).”
Most plainly, Donerail sees opportunity in Tronc’s chaos.
Presumably, then, a Donerail buy would net this value investor a quick buck on a Tronc breakup.
The problem: Selling the individual properties at prices above that initial 5× multiple might prove difficult. Also, the properties generally share a low tax basis, meaning the seller would owe significant tax — one financial analyst estimates it at 20 to 25 percent — on sale proceeds.
Finally, there’s the reality that always comes with the unwinding of individual properties from a mothership chain: “dissynergies.” Anyone buying an individual newspaper has to add in the further cost and time of undoing and redoing fundamental operating functions — raising the effective price of any acquisition.Those are the woes a splitting newspaper company faces. All chains have greatly centralized every business function they can to achieve cost savings over the past five-plus years. That means any new owner of a newly solo daily must figure out everything from basic publishing systems to finance to HR to national ad sales. Remember it was such dissynergy — resulting in that torturous Transition Services Agreement — that held up Soon-Shiong’s buy; it’s also what has complicated such heroic separations as the Berkshire Eagle’s escape from Digital First Media ownership.
Though a much longer shot, Donerail — or a future owner — could decide to operate Tronc whole. Its balance sheet is an enviable one. Tronc paid down almost all its debt — a rare condition in the newspaper trade — when it sold the southern California properties. After it pays taxes of about $110 million on the transaction, it will still have more than $100 million in cash. So, another scenario: a buyer acquires Tronc, scoops up some of the cash, and ladles new debt on top. Those new debt payments, of course, would only further tighten newsroom and other budgets, but they could satisfy short-term investing objectives.Financial engineering to the fore
All in all, this episode of Tronc drama looks a lot like the previous ones. It is likely to be financial engineering that drives the future of Tronc’s papers from Baltimore to Fort Lauderdale to Chicago — not any new model of digital product, content, or business model. The readers, the employees, and the large affected communities remain mere spectators.
Of course, Michael Ferro remains the man in the middle, ever brokering. Given his familiarity with would-be buyer Wyatt, one financial observer wondered if this would end up with “Ferro round-tripping” — noting Ferro’s uncanny abilities to make money on both ends of a deal, even as more traditional business people whisper that he loves to skate on thin legal or regulatory ice.Earlier this month, without fanfare or public notice, Ferro pocketed another $7.5 million in cash from the company. Tronc watchers will recall the consulting agreement he was granted by the Tronc board late last year, after it decided that paying him for its leased jet had gotten too complicated. That deal provided him $5 million a year, beginning in January 2018, in exchange for “certain management expertise and technical services.” Ferro got the first payment in January this year, just before the #metoo charges caused his exit.
Then, in June (and explained in an Aug. 10 SEC filing), the Tronc board decided to pay him money owed for 2019 and 2020, albeit at a “discount.” Ferro granted Tronc a 25 percent discount and took in an immediate payment of $7.5 million. Further, “the Company agreed to pay $0.3 million in legal fees incurred by Mr. Ferro while conducting the Company’s business.”
Even his most severe detractors marvel at Ferro’s continuing ability to come out on top in his business adventures, noting his mastery of timing. (In May, IBM announced layoffs at its new Watson Health division, built in part on the Merge Healthcare business it bought from Ferro and associates in 2015.)
Then there are the financial incentives built into the contracts of top Tronc executives. Those agreements accelerate their bonus and stock option compensation in case of a sale, assuming a legal “change of control” takes place. They amount to as much as $23.5 million in payments. More than $10 million of that, potentially, could go to Ross Levinsohn. Just last week, Levinsohn was able to exercise his first year of Tronc stock options even as the talk around L.A. is how little work Levinsohn seems to be doing now in his reconfigured job as head of Tribune Interactive, where he landed after Tronc removed him as Times publisher and then internally cleared him of his own #metoo allegations.
In short, much of what they know about Tronc’s structuring of compensation favors financial engineering over the betterment of the business — or journalism, or service to its communities — itself.A Tronc by any other name
How long will that name — Tronc — remain among us? If you’ll recall, many assumed the Tronc name would depart for Trivial Pursuit boards of the future; Tribune Media, its once-sister broadcast company, was finalizing its sale to Sinclair Media, which could have freed up the Tribune moniker. But, unexpectedly, that sale has blown up, and at least for now, Tribune Media remains an operating company. So, even if Tronc isn’t sold and broken up, the chances of it reclaiming its birthright brand anytime soon have shrunk.
Old newspaper brands stir a lot of emotion — and grabbing. Insiders point to quite colorful skirmishes between executives as the Tribune Company split in two back in 2014, with TV stations going to Tribune Media and newspapers to Tribune Publishing. “We found people moving around expensive chairs with hours to go on the split. You know the rule: Possession is nine-tenths of the law,” one former exec remembered this week. In that fray, high-branded art — including Diebenkorns, Rockwells, and Picassos — saw action. Consider the L.A. Times’ Daniel Miller’s own colorful account of the disappearance/reappearance of five iconic Picassos — another layer of tarnish on what was once a great publishing name.
Then there’s the curious Donerail name. Given the gallows humor inherent in the post-Sam Zell travails of the once-staid Tribune Company, it might be tempting to think of the stealthy company — a mere single page to its website — as the Donner Company, ready to commit more cannibalism in the eat-or-be-eaten newspaper trade.
Yet Donerail ironically sees itself as an underdog. Donerail, horse-racing historians will tell you, was the biggest underdog to ever win the Kentucky Derby, way back in 1913. It was a 91-1 shot.
You can conjecture among yourselves what that might mean for Donerail’s own odds as it considers entering the daily newspaper business.
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