The World is Flat.

The Globalised World in the 21st Century
By Thomas L Friedman

Friedman is one of the most respected journalists and authors in the USA and is a three time Pulitzer Prize winner. This book is big in its ambition and its size and one of the best selling non-fiction books ever. It explains what has happened in the past two decades and why it’s happened. Given the scale of the achievement the synopsis will be done in two parts. This is Part One – why and what happened. In our recent lifetime the world has changed – completely.

  1. Creating a level playing field = flattening the world.

    After 2000 became possible for more people to collaborate and compete in real time with more other people on more different kinds of work from more different corners of the planet and on a more equal footing than ever before using computers, e-mail, fibre-optic networks, teleconferencing and dynamic new software. The world is flat.

  2. Flatter hierarchies

    Now so much information is available fast the need for complex hierarchies disappears including the army.

  3. The world gets smaller

    It has gone from being frighteningly large to tiny.

    Before Globalisation re 1492 – Large

    1492 – 1800                                 –  Medium

    1800 – 2000                               –  Small

    2000 –                                            – Tiny

  4. Understanding flat by looking at things from Asia

    Call centres are not slave labour – by Indian standards brilliant conditions and fun. And a starting salary in a call centre is higher than Dad’s retiring salary.

  5. China v. the West

    We forget that in the 18th century China s the biggest economy in the world. But it was theUSA and before that Britain,Venice, Holland, Spain who shaped trade.

  6. High skill sets v. commodity work

    In Iraq drones were being flown from a centre in Las Vegas.

    Reuters outsource all of their commodity news posting, focusing their skills and time on analysis.

    It’s estimated to cost only $200 to set up a news network now – news comes from anywhere now.

  7. The Berlin Wall

    The wall fell on 11/9/89. It’s removal tipped the balance of power across the world. Windows 3.0 was launched 6 months later. ”The political constraint on individual reach collapsed with the wall and the practical constraint on individual reach collapsed with the rise of Windows and Apple.”

  8. The dot.com.bust

    The dot.com.boom led to the biggest investment in global fibre optic ever with pipes under all the oceans of the world. The dot.com.bust meant no one needed it any more so the Indians and Chinese got very cheap connectivity at a stroke. And the world got flatter.

  9. Connectivity

    The first website was in 1991 – Tim Berners-Lee at CERN, Switzerland as a medium for nuclear physicists. Yes, that recent.

    And it was Netscape’s IPO in 1995 that transformed the internet and its perception.

    Followed by the digitisation of information.

  10. Software emancipating work practice

    Standards changed a lot of things – HTML etc. When agreement to have standards whereby everything can be read by anyone else, business processes really begin to work and the world gets flatter. From the Tower of Babel to a universal language.

  11. Uploading – harnessing the power of communities

    Discover the power of “free.”

    Best example is Wikipedia. The people beat Encarta, the mighty Microsoft product.

    How Apache beat and was then partnered by IBM.

    Linux is a big force in Germany.

    Blogs are changing the way people think….too many to deal with. As TF puts it “you cannot drink from a fire hose”

  12. Outsourcing

    Much of what’s happened has literally happened while we’ve been sleeping. Take tax returns being done in India (US alone):-

    2003          20k

    2004          100k

    2005          400k

    2011           ? Bet it’s several million by now.

    “Night hawks”  is what they call 24/7 Asian cat-scans which are studied and interpreted giving second opinions.

    McDonalds are outsourcing their ordering system at “Drive-Ins” to a call centre in Colorado, reducing fulfilment time from 2 min. 36 sec. to 1 min. 5 secs.

  13. Offshoring

    “Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up.
    It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed.
    Every morning a lion wakes up.
    It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death.
    It doesn’t matter if you are a lion or a gazelle.
    When the sun comes up, you better start running.”
    (ASIMCO Technologies China. From the African translated into Mandarin and stuck on the wall.)

    Since the mid ‘90s it is said the US consumer has saved $1 trillion by buying products made in China.

  14. Supply chains

    Wild Brain – animation studio uses all world-supply chain. Recording near artist; design/direction in San Francisco; writers in Florida, London, New York; animation in Bangalore; editing in San Francisco.

    Wal-Mart has done more to rip out cost than anyone else. It makes nothing. It makes its money through hyper-efficiency.

  15. Insourcing

    UPS operate the 11th biggest airline in the world now (270 planes). From messenger service to dynamic supply-chain manager. Did you know it’s UPS who runs Toshiba Computers Repair Centre, in addition to picking up the defective machine; they deliver pizzas in the USA under the pizza brand choosing them; www.Nike.com is a UPS website. Insourcing also allows the small to act big – opening up markets previously denied them.

  16. Informing

    The Internet – Google especially – is the “total equaliser.” Everyone can be well informed. Which means knowledge is no longer power it’s what you do with it that counts.

  17. The “steroids”

    Computers depended on size of computer brain, storage capacity and speed of operation. In just a few years what you kept in a barn you hold in your hand. Film, music, libraries have all been digitised. The world is very fast.

    We have instant messaging.

    We have Skype.

    Our flat world is fast, free and accessible anytime and anywhere.

  18. Working from home

    JetBlue have their call centres operated by highly qualified retirees etc. from their homes in the USA. Service levels are up. Is this a new development for the future – death of the HQ, office or centre?

  19. Solving problems

    “One elected official cannot solve the problems of eight million people but eight million people networked together can solve one city’s problems. They can spot and offer solutions better and faster than any bureaucrat….the party that stakes out this new frontier will be the majority party in the 21st century.” (Andrew Rasiej.)

  20. People and machines

    It is the sheer excitement and thrill of technology that has given us all the chance to be in charge…if we choose to accept the challenge. For sure there’s never been an easier or more competitive time to start a business.

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