Diary Of A Hollywood Refugee

Saturday, July 23, 2005

The World IS Flat

Martin, in my comments section, recently asked me what I was reading.

I've almost completed Tom Friedman's latest book " The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century"

In the book, he "demystifies the brave new world" we now find ourselves in, and picks up where Lexus and The Olive Tree left off.

"I had come to Bangalore, India's Silicon Valley, on my own Columbus like journey of exploration......."
"Columbus set out search for hardware - precious metals, spices, silk - I was searching for software, brainpower and complex algorithms, knowledg eworkers, call centers, and transmission protocals - the sources of wealth in our day. Columbus was happy to make the Indians he met, slaves. I just wanted to understand why the Indians I met were taking our work, why they had become such an important pool for outsourcing of service and information technology work from America and other industrialized countries."

Long ago, Columbus discovered the world was round; today Friedman discovered the world is flat!

He describes ten forces of flatness in great detail. Here's a summary:

1. The Walls Came Down ....and Windows went up!
The Berlin Wall fell, everyone was now talking to everyone through a common platform: computers and software.

2.Netscape Went Public: Internet Browsers allowed everyone to browse the WorldWide Web.

3.Workflow Software: Common software apps meant that your app could now talk to my app!

4.Open-Source: Self organizing, collaborative communities alter the landscape and traditional business model preferred by Microsoft

5.Outsourcing Y2K: The rise of outside specialists, part timers and homeworkers.

6.Off shoring: Running with Gazelles, Eating with Lions. Manufacturing could be done anywhere, fast, cheaply and well! More imporantly, KNOWLEDGE work can be delivered to and from anywhere FAST thanks to worldwide high speed communication.

7.Supply chaining : Eating Sushi in Arkansas. Think of a fast efficient and effective supply chain and WALMART comes to mind. This is why Walmart is fast becoming the largest company in the world!

8. Insourcing: What the guys in the funny brown shorts are really doing: UPS doesn't just deliver packages anymore, they provide logisitics!

9. Informing: Google Google Google.....oh yeah and MSN and Yahoo! They deliver information to everyone everywhere! This gave birth to and facilitated the rise of BLOGS...which can also be considered an offspring of collaborative communities.

10. The Steroids: Digital, Mobile, Personal and Virtual. The world is now shaped not simply by geological forces but also by technological forces - computers, fibre optics, and instant communications!

These ten forces resulted in what he calls a "triple convergence" that changed our world.

1) Creation of the global web enabled the playing field that allows for multiple forms of collaboration
2) Global companies expanded their bounderies by losing their walls, their floors, hell even their buildings. Companies now employ an ever changing global pool of specialists, according to their needs.
3) Now more than ever individuals can compete against anyone EVERYWHERE in the world using the new "flat" rules.

Welcome to the 21st Century. The World IS Flat!


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