The ancients were right … the world IS flat.
But it only became that way recently. I’ve long been using, and fascinated with, technology. It’s been a love/hate relationship and I’ve often felt that i was on the “bleeding” edge of technology. But when it works, the proper use of technology is a great boon to business.
The result is: the world is now flat. According to Tom Friedman in his 2005 book “The world is flat” the global business community discovered this flatness only recently. I found this excerpt to be quite interesting, and accurate in my experience:
The 10 forces of Flatness
“Flatness” is not simply about Outsourcing and Offshoring – those are just symptoms of the much broader global shift. Here’s my own summary of Friedman’s 10 forces of flatness:
1. The walls came down, windows went up: The old cold-war barriers blew open, and everyone was talking to everyone else through a common platform, computers and software.
2. Internet browsers: Suddenly everyone could browse the web with significant and prolific content, allowing instant publishing to a world audience.
3. Workflow software: Common web-based standards; software applications “taking” to each other.
4. Open-source: Self-organizing, collaborative communities; the decline of closed, proprietary developments.
5. Outsourcing: Business suddenly realizing that everything did NOT have to be done in-house. The rise of outside specialists, part-timers and home-workers.
6. Off-shoring: Sending manufacturing to wherever it could be done – good, fast and cheap. With the availability of worldwide high-speed communications, knowledge work can be delivered fast from anywhere.
7. Supply-chaining: The development of fast, efficient and effective supply-chains to deliver products from anywhere. A good example is the rise of Wal-Mart to become the largest company in the world.
8. Logistics: UPS and Fedex don’t just deliver packages – they do logistics.
9. Informing – web search: Google & Yahoo deliver information quickly and effectively, anywhere, to anyone. The rise of Groups and Weblogs.
10. Digital, mobile, personal, virtual: Everything shaped, manipulated and transmitted by computers and instant communications.
The triple convergence
Tom Friedman explains that the forces of flatness have resulted in a “triple convergence”:
1. The creation of a global, web-enabled playing field that allows multiple forms of collaboration, the sharing of knowledge and work, without regard to distance or geography, and soon even language.
2. Global companies lose walls, floors and buildings. Employees are now a vast, global pool of specialists, assembled (and disassembled) according to needs.
3. New opportunities are created for individuals to compete against anyone, anywhere in the world using the new, “flat” rules.
I’m often asked for help and advice on matters of technology and I usually just ask if they have a 10 year old in the neighborhood. This cartoon demonstrates that idea.