Tuesday, 29 May 2007

To be serious for a moment......

Humour me for a minute?

I'm reading this really interesting book at the moment - its called 'The World is Flat' by Thomas L Friedman.

Friedman believes the world is flat in the sense that the competitive playing fields between industrial and emerging market countries are leveling: he talks about companies in India and China becoming part of large global complex supply that extend across the world through a process called outsourcing, providing everything from service representatives and interpretation of Xrays to component manufacturing.

Friedman lists ten "flatteners" that he believes have levelled the global playing field:

  • #1: Collapse of the Berlin Wall 11/9: Friedman attributes the collapse of the Berlin Wall as the starting point for leveling the global playing field. The event not only symbolized the end of the Cold War, it allowed people from other side of the wall to join the economic mainstream.

    Oh and yes, isn't that date a scary co-incidence?
  • #2: Netscape: Netscape and the Web broadened the audience for the Internet from its roots as a communications medium used primarily by scientists
  • #3: Workflow software: The ability of machines to talk to other machines with no humans involved.
  • #4: Open Sourcing: Communities uploading and collaborating on online projects; examples include open source software, blogs, and Wikipedia.
  • #5: Outsourcing: Friedman argues that outsourcing has allowed companies to split service and manufacturing activities into components, with each component performed in most efficient, cost-effective way.
  • #6: Offshoring: Offshoring, the manufacturing equivalent of outsourcing.
  • #7: Supply Chaining: Friedman compares the modern retail supply chain to a river, and points to Wall-Mart as the best example of a company using technology to streamline item sales, distribution, and shipping.
  • #8: Insourcing: Friedman uses UPS as a prime example for insourcing, in which the company's employees perform services--beyond shipping--on behalf of another company. For example, UPS itself repairs Toshiba computers on behalf of Toshiba;the work is done at the UPS hub, by UPS employees.
  • #9: In-forming: Google and other search engines are the prime example. "Never before in the history of the planet have so many people on-their-own had the ability to find so much information about so many things and about so many other people", he says.
  • #10: "The Steroids": Personal digital equipment like mobile phones, iPods, personal digital assistants, instant messaging, and VOIP

Friedman also acknowledges there are some 3 billion people in places like rural India, rural China, and Africa who still live in an "unflat world", unaffected by the technologies and socioeconomic changes of outlined in the book, and addresses what is needed to extend the "flat world" beyond its current borders.

It's a fascinating and very challenging insight into what's going on RIGHT NOW all around us - I recommend a read!