We all think we should look back at the year just passed, and form some conclusions about it.
Whew! I conclude that I was awfully lucky to get through it in mostly one piece.
Seriously, 2006 was an excellent year for the automation profession, both on the vendor side and on the end user side. Automation suppliers made more money, system integrators broke through the “Pinto Barrier” (Jim has maintained for years that system integrators can’t get much larger than $30 million a year in revenue), and end users are finding that jobs are going begging.
2007 is expected to be a similar year, but watch out. Toward the end of 2007, I expect the economy to be slowing down. Beginning in China, and spreading to the rest of Asia first, and then to the rest of the flat world, I expect a serious slowdown of an incredibly overheated economy.
Since we’ve all decided that the pot o’ gold at the end of the rainbow is somewhere in China, this is not a good thing for automation suppliers.
But it may be a good thing for end users. The dollar has declined in value so much against the rest of the world’s currencies (just try finding a hotel in England for $100 a night) that it is becoming economically practical to re-open factories that were outsourced and downsized just a few years ago.
Be very careful. Pay attention to what’s going on outside your plant, or you might get another bad surprise along about the third quarter of 2008. If somebody is offering you a fat new job now, take a look at what might happen if you get laid off next year. If it still looks good, go for it.