Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The World is 5-Dimensional: Globalization and Teleportation

This will be the first of several blog posts on the subject of globalization and my thoughts on what it portends for CM and Agility ...

For those of us who haven't read Thomas Friedman's The World is Flat, here are a few resources to familiarize yourself with the basic gist of the material in short-order time:The book is about globalization and how technology (and other "levelers") have "leveled the playing field" for so many others in (formerly) thirld-world countries to compete with "the big boys."

I think the book is, in part, saying that mass availability of technologies like the internet and Wireless connectivity, have provided us with the "inverse" of teleportation. The mass availability and accessibility of the internet and its pervasiveness into the everyday life of businesses and individuals is essentially the virtual inverse of teleportation: instead of being able to send ourselves anywhere, instantly, we have the ability to virtually summon anything from anywhere to wherever we are!

Okay, so we've only be able to do that digitally, with the mass commoditization of the internet and wireless technologies. We can do it with information and data, but not physical objects. But we can still connect with people anywhere instantly!

In terms of business, the world is "flat", but in terms of technology, we're basically saying The World is now 5-Dimensional!

The traditional 4 dimensions are the three spatial dimensions (height/length, width, depth) , and time. Friedman is saying that these "flatteners" have occured. Of course the world isnt really flat (we know it's round), but what I perceive him to be saying is that a new "dimension" has emerged that now allows us to come pretty darn close to bypassing the traditional constraints of time and space.

This 5th dimension is technology plus mass accessibility! Each of the "flatteners" Friedman describes is a form of technology that allows information, communication, and collaboration to transcend the traditonal time-and-space boundaries of the physical world. And the internet (the "virtual world") is a big part of that 5th dimension. But we did't make it to that 5th dimension right away. It wasnt until everyone and their mother in this country, and all the other countries we economically compete and partner with, had access to that technology (and used it!)

Friedman calls this Globalization 3.0. Whereas Globalization 2.0 was centered around business, the increased pervasiveness of the internet into daily lives and gadgets gas created Globalization 3.0, which centers around individuals. I wonder if globalization 4.0 might be achieved when we finally perfect virtual teleportation and have the ability to project our own virtual presence (not just a "holographic image" but many of our our five senses) to interact with that of others. (That sounds a little too much like the Matrix for my taste.)

Here some interesting reviews and commentary on Friedman's book:Over the coming weeks, I'll be musing more on what this might mean for the future of CM and Agility, and I'll be commenting on several related books on the topic:

1 comment:

Frank said...

I'm not sure why, but this whole flattening gives me the creeps. Like we are ants in a big pile. Globalization and connectivity that technology provides us with allows us to connect to all and everyone, but we become a "system" rather than a community. Building trust is a delicate and precious process that does not happen en mass. It takes time and dedication for the needs of individuals.

We have learned to appreciate freedom, and we have learned th danger of dictatorship. But the flattening is dominated by technology (at least Glob3.0) and technology is still dictated by a Mighty Few. History shows that dictatorship can be a blessing if and only if the dictator is a fair ruler, with a profound vision of what is good for the masses. But can we trust our technological dictators? Microsoft, Google, IBM are constantly fighting technology wars. Open Source is fighting for a democratic and free world (of technology), ruled by the people.

No, I don't deny that I love it that I can talk to a friend in a small town in California while walking my dog in the park in Eindhoven, or talk to my kids while driving my car. But in business, I'm just an insignificant ant that can be stepped on and crushed, and nobody cares.