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似水流年

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总有一种声音,让人想起从前,总有一份记忆,徘徊在心的边缘,总有一种守侯,即使脚步渐行渐远。 流水涓涓,仿佛从不曾离去,在我们生命的故事中,细数着流年……

THE WORLD IS FLAT (Three)  

2011-05-10 13:51:18|  分类: 【在线阅读】 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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       THREE

The Triple Convergence

What is the triple convergence? In order to explain what I mean, let me tell a personal story and share one of my favorite television commercials.

The story took place in March 2004. I had made plans to fly from Baltimore to Hartford on Southwest Airlines to visit my daughter Orly, who goes to school in New Haven, Connecticut. Being a tech-sawy guy, I didn't bother with a paper ticket but ordered an e-ticketthrough American Express. As anyone who flies regularly on Southwest knows, the cheapo airline has no reserved seats. When you check in, your ticket says simply A, B, or C, with the As boarding first, the Bs boarding second, and the Cs boarding last. As veterans of Southwest also know, you do not want to be a C. If you are, you will almost certainly end up in a middle seat with no space to put your carry-ons in the overhead bin. If you want to sit in a window or aisle seat and be able to store your stuff, you want to be an A. Since I was carrying some bags of clothing for my daughter, I definitely wanted to be an A. So I got up early to make sure I got to the Baltimore airport ninety-five minutes before my scheduled departure. I walked up to the Southwest Airlines e-ticket machine, stuck in my credit card, and used the touch screen to get my ticket-a thoroughly modern man, right? Well, out came the ticket and it said B.

I was fuming. "How in the world could I be a B?" I said to myself, looking at my watch. "There is no way that many people got here before me. This thing is rigged! This is fixed! This is nothing more than a slot machine!"

I stomped off, went through security, bought a Cinnabon, and glumly sat at the back of the B line, waiting to be herded on board so I could hunt for space in the overhead bins. Forty minutes later, the flight was called. From the B line, I enviously watched all the As file on board ahead of me, with a certain barely detectable air of superiority. And then I saw it.

Many of the people in the A line didn't have normal e-tickets like mine. They were just carrying what looked to me like crumpled pieces of white printer paper, but they weren't blank. They had boarding passes and bar codes printed on them, as if the As had downloaded their boarding passes off the Internet at home and printed them out on their home printers. Which, I quickly learned, was exactly what they had done.

I didn't know it, but Southwest had recently announced that beginning at 12:01 a.m. the night before a flight, you could download your ticket at home, print it out, and then just have the bar code scanned by the gate agent before you boarded.

"Friedman," I said to myself, looking at this scene, "you are so twentieth-century . . .

You are so Globalization 2.0." In Globalization 1.0 there was a ticket agent. In Globalization 2.0 the e-ticket machine replaced the ticket agent. In Globalization 3.0 you are your own ticket agent.

The television commercial is from Konica Minolta Business Technologies for a new multipurpose device it sells called bizhub, a piece of office machinery that allows you to do black-and-white or color printing, copy a document, fax it, scan it, scan it to e-mail, or Internet-fax it-all from the same machine. The commercial begins with a rapid cutting back and forth between two guys, one in his office and the other standing at the bizhub machine. They are close enough to talk by raising their voices.

Dom is senior in authority but slow on the uptake-the kind of guy who hasn't kept up with changing technology (my kind of guy!). He can see Ted standing at the bizhub machine when he leans back in his chair and peers out his office doorway.

Dom: (At his desk) Hey, I need that chart.

Ted: (At the bizhub) I'm e-mailing it now.

Dom: You're e-mailing from the copy machine?

Ted: No, I'm e-mailing from bizhub.

Dom: Bizhub? Wait, did you make my copies yet?

Ted: Right after I scan this.

Dom: You're scanning at an e-mail machine?

Ted: E-mail machine? I'm at the bizhub machine.

Dom: (Bewildered) Copying?

Ted: (Trying to be patient) E-mailing, then scanning, then copying.

Dom: (Long pause) Bizhub?

VO: (Over an animated graphic of bizhub illustrating its multiple functions) Amazing versatility and affordable color. That's bizhub, from Konica Minolta. (Cut to Dom alone at the bizhub machine, trying to see if it will also dispense coffee into his mug.)

Southwest was able to offer its at-home ticketing, and Konica Minolta could offer bizhub, because of what I call the triple convergence. What are the components of this triple convergence? The short answer is this: First, right around the year 2000, all ten of the flatteners discussed in the previous chapter started to converge and work together in ways that created a new, flatter, global playing field. As this new playing field became established, both businesses and individuals began to adopt new habits, skills, and processes to get the most out of it. They moved from largely vertical means of creating value to more horizontal ones. The merger of this new playing field for doing business with the new ways of doing business was the second convergence, and it actually helped to flatten the world even further. Finally, just when all of this flattening was happening, a whole new group of people, several billion, in fact, walked out onto the playing field from China, India, and the former Soviet Empire. Thanks to the new flat world, and its new tools, some of them were quickly able to collaborate and compete directly with everyone else. This was the third convergence. Now let's look at each in detail.

Convergence I

All ten flatteners discussed in the previous chapter have been around, we know, since the 1990s, if not earlier. But they had to spread and take root and connect with one another to work their magic on the world. For instance, at some point around 2003, Southwest Airlines realized that there were enough PCs around, enough bandwidth, enough computer storage, enough Internet-comfortable customers, and enough software know-how for Southwest to create a work flow system that empowered its customers to download and print out their own boarding passes at home, as easily as downloading a piece of e-mail. Southwest could collaborate with its customers and they with Southwest in a new way. And somewhere around the same time, the work flow software and hardware converged in a way that enabled Konica Minolta to offer scanning, e-mailing, printing, faxing, and copying all from the same machine. This is the first convergence.

As Stanford University economist Paul Romer pointed out, economists have known for a long time that "there are goods that are complementary-whereby good A is a lot more valuable if you also have good B. It was good to have paper and then it was good to have pencils, and soon as you got more of one you got more of the other, and as you got a better quality of one and better quality of the other, your productivity improved.

This is known as the simultaneous improvement of complementary goods. "It is my contention that the opening of the Berlin Wall, Netscape, work flow, outsourcing, offshoring, open-sourcing, insourcing, supply-chaining, in-forming, and the steroids amplifying them all reinforced one another, like complementary goods.

They just needed time to converge and start to work together in a complementary, mutually enhancing fashion. That tipping point arrived sometime around the year 2000.

The net result of this convergence was the creation of a global, Web-enabled playing field that allows for multiple forms of collaboration-the sharing of knowledge and work-in real time, without regard to geography, distance, or, in the near future, even language. No, not everyone has access yet to this platform, this playing field, but it is open today to more people in more places on more days in more ways than anything like it ever before in the history of the world. This is what I mean when I say the world has been flattened.

It is the complementary convergence of the ten flatteners, creating this new global playing field for multiple forms of collaboration.

 

Convergence II

Great, you say, but why is it only in the past few years that we started to see in the United States the big surges in productivity that should be associated with such a technological leap? Answer: Because it always takes time for all the flanking technologies, and the business processes and habits needed to get the most out of them, to converge and create that next productivity breakthrough.

Introducing new technology alone is never enough. The big spurts in productivity come when a new technology is combined with new ways of doing business. Wal-Mart got big productivity boosts when it combined big box stores-where people could buy soap supplies for six months-with new, horizontal supply-chain management systems that allowed Wal-Mart instantly to connect what a consumer took off the shelf from a Wal-Mart in Kansas City with what a Wal-Mart supplier in coastal China would produce.

When computers were first introduced into offices, everyone expected a big boost in productivity. But that did not happen right away, and it sparked both disappointment and a little confusion. The noted economist Robert Solow quipped that computers are everywhere- except "in the productivity statistics."

In a pathbreaking 1989 essay, "Computer and Dynamo: The Modern Productivity Paradox in a Not-Too Distant Mirror," the economic historian Paul A. David explained such a lag by pointing to a historical precedent. He noted that while the lightbulb was invented in 1879, it took several decades for electrification to kick in and have a big economic and productivity impact. Why? Because it was not enough just to install electric motors and scrap the old technology-steam engines. The whole way of doing manufacturing had to be reconfigured. In the case of electricity, David pointed out, the key breakthrough was in how buildings, and assembly lines, were redesigned and managed. Factories in the steam age tended to be heavy, costly multistory buildings designed to brace the weighty belts and other big transmission devices needed to drive steam-powered systems. Once small, powerful electric motors were introduced, everyone hoped for a quick productivity boost. It took time, though. To get all the savings, you needed to redesign enough buildings.

You needed to have long, low, cheaper-to-build single-story factories, with small electric motors powering machines of all sizes. Only when there was a critical mass of experienced factory architects and electrical engineers and managers, who understood the complementarities among the electric motor, the redesign of the factory, and the redesign of the production line, did electrification really deliver the productivity breakthrough in manufacturing, David wrote.

The same thing is happening today with the flattening of the world. Many of the ten flatteners have been around for years. But for the full flattening effects to be felt, we needed not only the ten flatteners to converge but also something else. We needed the emergence of a large cadre of managers, innovators, business consultants, business schools, designers, IT specialists, CEOs, and workers to get comfortable with, and develop, the sorts of horizontal collaboration and value-creation processes and habits that could take advantage of this new, flatter playing field. In short, the convergence of the ten flatteners begat the convergence of a set of business practices and skills that would get the most out of the flat world. And then the two began to mutually reinforce each other.

"When people asked, 'Why didn't the IT revolution lead to more productivity right away?' it was because you needed more than just new computers," saidRomer. "You needed new business processes and new types of skills to go with them. The new way of doing things makes the information technologies more valuable, and the new and better information technologies make the new ways of doing things more possible."

Globalization 2.0 was really the era of mainframe computing, which was very vertical-command-and-control oriented, with companies and their individual departments tending to be organized in vertical silos. Globalization 3.0, which is built around the convergence of the ten flatteners, and particularly the combination of the PC, the microprocessor, the Internet, and fiber optics, flipped the playing field from largely top-down to more side to side. And this naturally fostered and demanded new business practices, which were

less about command and control and more about connecting and collaborating horizontally.

"We have gone from a vertical chain of command for value creation to a much more horizontal chain of command for value creation," explained Carly Fiorina. Innovations in companies like HP, she said, now come more and more often from horizontal collaboration among different departments and teams spread all across the globe. For instance, HP, Cisco, and Nokia recently collaborated on the development of a camera/ cell phone that beams its digitized pictures to an HP printer, which quickly prints them out. Each company had developed a very sophisticated technological specialty, but it could add value only when its specialty was horizontally combined with the specialties of the other two companies.

"How you collaborate horizontally and manage horizontally requires a totally different set of skills" from traditional top-down approaches, Fiorina added.

Let me offer just a few examples. In the past five years, HP has gone from a company that had eighty-seven different supply chains-each managed vertically and independently, with its own hierarchy of managers and back-office support-to a company with just five supply chains that manage $50 billion in business, and where functions like accounting, billing, and human resources are handled through a companywide system.

Southwest Airlines took advantage of the convergence of the ten flat-teners to create a system where its customers can download their boarding passes at home. But until I personally altered my ticket-buying habits and reengineered myself to collaborate horizontally with Southwest, this technological breakthrough didn't produce a productivity breakthrough for me or Southwest. What the bizhub commercial is about is the difference between the employee who understands the convergent technologies in the new bizhub machine (and how to get the most out of them) and the employee in the very same office who does not. Not until the latter changes his work habits will productivity in that fictional office go up, even though the office has this amazing new machine.

Finally, consider the example of WPP-the second-largest advertising-marketing-communications consortium in the world. WPP, which is based in England, did not exist as we now know it twenty years ago. It is a product of the consolidation of some of the biggest names in the business-from Young & Rubicam to Ogilvy & Mather to Hill & Knowlton. The alliance was put together to capture more and more of big clients' marketing needs, such as advertising, direct mail, media buying, and branding.

"For years the big challenge for WPP was how to get its own companies to collaborate," said Allen Adamson, managing director of WPP's branding firm, Landor Associates. "Now, though, it is often no longer enough just to get the companies in WPP to work together per se. Increasingly, we find ourselves pulling together individuals from within each of these companies to form a customized collaborative team just for one client. The solution that will create value for that client did not exist in any one company or even in the traditional integration of the companies. It had to be much more specifically tailored. So we had to go down inside the whole group and pluck the individual who is the right ad person, to work with the right branding person, to work with the right media person for this particular client."

When GE decided in 2003 to spin off its insurance businesses into a separate company, WPP assembled a customized team to handle everything from the naming of the new company-Genworth-all the way down to its first advertising campaign and direct-marketing program. "As a leader withinthis organization," said Adamson, "what you have to do is figure out the value proposition that is needed for each client and then identify and assemble the individual talents within WPP's workforce that will in effect form a virtual company just for that client. In the case of GE, we even gave a name to the virtual collaborative team we formed: Klamath Communications."

When the world went flat, WPP adapted itself to get the most out of itself. It changed its office architecture and practices, just like those companies that adjusted their steam-run factories to the electric motor. But WPP not only got rid of all its walls, it got rid of all its floors. It looked at all its employees from all its companies as a vast pool of individual specialists who could be assembled horizontally into collaborative teams, depending on the unique demands of any given project. And that team would then become a de facto new company with its own name.

It will take time for this new playing field and the new business practices to be fully aligned. It's a work in progress. But here's a little warning. It is happening much faster than you think, and it is happening globally. Remember, this was a triple convergence!

 

Convergence III

How so? Just as we finished creating this new, more horizontal playing field, and companies and individuals primarily in the West started quickly adapting to it, 3 billion people who had been frozen out of the field suddenly found themselves liberated to plug and play with everybody else.

Save for a tiny minority, these 3 billion people had never been allowed to compete and collaborate before, because they lived in largely closed economies with very vertical, hierarchical political and economic structures. I am talking about the people ofChina, India,Russia, Eastern Europe,Latin America, and Central Asia. Their economies and political systems all opened up during the course of the 1990s, so that their people were increasingly free to join the free-market game. And when did these 3 billion people converge with the new playing field and the new processes? Right when the field was being flattened, right when millions of them could compete and collaborate more equally, more horizontally, and with cheaper and more readily available tools than ever before. Indeed, thanks to the flattening of the world, many of these new entrants didn't even have to leave home to participate. Thanks to the ten flatten-ers, the playing field came to them!

It is this triple convergence-of new players, on a new playing field, developing new processes and habits for horizontal collaboration - that I believe is the most important force shaping global economics and politics in the early twenty-first century. Giving so many people access to all these tools of collaboration, along with the ability through search engines and the Web to access billions of pages of raw information, ensures that the next generation of innovations will come from all over Planet Flat. The scale of the global community that is soon going to be able to participate in all sorts of discovery and innovation is something the world has simply never seen before.

Throughout the Cold War there were just three major trading blocs-North America, Western Europe, and Japan plus East Asia-and the competition among the three was relatively controlled, since they were all Cold War allies on the same side of the great global divide. There were also still a lot of walls around for labor and industries to hide behind. The wage rates in these three trading blocs were roughly the same, the workforces roughly the same size, and the education levels roughly equivalent. "You had a gentlemanly competition," noted Intel's Chairman Craig Barrett.

Then along came the triple convergence. The Berlin Wall came down, the Berlin mall opened up, and suddenly some 3 billion people who had been behind walls walked onto the flattened global piazza.

Here's what happened in round numbers: According to a November 2004 study by Harvard University economist Richard B. Freeman, in 1985 "the global economic world" comprised North America, Western Europe, Japan, as well as chunks of Latin America, Africa, and the countries of East Asia. The total population of this global economic world, taking part in international trade and commerce, said Freeman, was about 2.5 billion people.

By 2000, as a result of the collapse of communism in the Soviet Empire, India's turn from autarky, China's shift to market capitalism, and population growth all over, the global economic world expanded to encompass 6 billion people.

As a result of this widening, another roughly 1.5 billion new workers entered the global economic labor force, Freeman said, which is almost exactly double the number we would have had in 2000 had China, India, and the Soviet Empire not joined.

True, maybe only 10 percent of this new 1.5 billion-strong workforce entering the global economy have the education and connectivity to collaborate and compete at a meaningful level. But that is still 150 million people, roughly the size of the entire U.S. workforce. Said Barrett, "You don't bring three billion people into the world economy overnight without huge consequences, especially from three societies [like India, China, and Russia] with rich educational heritages."

That is exactly right. And a lot of those new workers are not just walking onto the playing field. No, this is no slow-motion triple convergence. They are jogging and even sprinting there. Because once the world has been flattened and the new forms of collaboration made available to more and more people, the winners will be those who learn the habits, processes, and skills most quickly-and there is simply nothing that guarantees it will be Americans or Western Europeans permanently leading the way. And be advised, these new players are stepping onto the playing field legacy free, meaning that many of them were so far behind they can leap right into the new technologies without having to worry about all the sunken costs of old systems. It means that they can move very fast to adopt new, state-of-the-art technologies, which is why there are already more cell phones in use in China today than there are people in the United States. Many Chinese just skipped over the landline phase. South Koreans put Americans to shame in terms of Internet usage and broadband penetration.

We tend to think of global trade and economics as something driven by the IMF, the G-8, the World Bank, the WTO, and the trade treaties forged by trade ministers. I don't want to suggest that these governmental agencies are irrelevant. They are not.

But they are going to become less important. In the future globalization is going to be increasingly driven by the individuals who understand the flat world, adapt themselves quickly to its processes and technologies, and start to march forward-without any treaties or advice from the IMF. They will be every color of the rainbow and from every corner of the world. The global economy from here forward will be shaped less by the ponderous deliberations of finance ministers and more by the spontaneous explosion of energy from the zippies. Yes, Americans grew up with the hippes in the 1960s. Thanks to the high-tech revolution, many of us became yuppies in the 1980s. Well, now let me introduce the zippies.

"The Zippies Are Here," declared the Indian weekly magazine Outlook. Zippies are the huge cohort of Indian youth who are the first to come of age since India shifted away from socialism and dived headfirst into global trade and the information revolution by turning itself into the world's service center. Outlook called India's zippies "Liberalization's Children" and defined a zippie as a "young city or suburban resident, between 15 and 25 years of age, with a zip in the stride. Belongs to Generation Z. Can be male or female, studying or working. Oozes attitude, ambition and aspiration.

Cool, confident and creative. Seeks challenges, loves risks and shuns fear." Indian zippies feel no guilt about making money or spending it. They are, says one Indian analyst quoted by Outlook, "destination driven, not destiny driven, outward looking, not inward, upwardly mobile, not stuck-in-my-station-in-life." With 54 percent of India under the age of twenty-five-that's 555 million people-six out of ten Indian households have at least one potential zippie. And the zippies don't just have a pent-up demand for good jobs; they want the good life.

It all happened so fast. P. V. Kannan, the CEO and cofounder of the Indian call-center company 24/7 Customer, told me that in the last decade, he went from sweating out whether he would ever get a chance to work in America to becoming one of the leading figures in the outsourcing of services from America to the rest of the world.

"I will never forget when I applied for a visa to come to the United States," Kannan recalled. "It was March 1991.1 had gotten a B.A. in chartered accountancy from the [Indian] Institute of Chartered Accountants. I was twenty-three, and my girlfriend was twenty-five. She was also a chartered accountant. I had graduated at age twenty and had been working for the Tata Consultancy group. So was my girlfriend. And we both got job offers through a body shop [a recruiting firm specializing in importing Indian talent for companies in America] to work as programmers for IBM. So we went to the U.S. consulate in Bombay. The recruiting service was based in Bombay. In those days, there was always a very long line to get visas to the United States, and there were people who would

actually sleep in the line and hold places and you could go buy their place for 20 rupees. But we went by ourselves and stood in line and we finally got in to see the man who did the interview. He was an American [consular official]. His job was to sk questions and try to figure out whether we were going to do the work and then come back to India or try to stay in America. They judge by some secret formula. We used to call it 'the lottery'-you went and stood in line and it was a life lottery, because everything was dependent on it." There were actually books and seminars in India devoted entirely to the subject of how to prepare for a work visa interview at the U.S. embassy. It was the only way for skilled Indian engineers really to exploit their talent. "I remember one tip was to always go professionally dressed," said Kannan, "so [my girlfriend and I] were both in our best clothes. After the interview is over, the man doesn't tell you anything. You had to wait until the evening to know the results. But meanwhile, the whole day was hell. To distract our minds, we just walked the streets of Bombay and went shopping. We would go back and forth, 'What if I get in and you don't? What if you get in and I don't?' I can't tell you how anxious we were, because so much was riding on it. It was torture. So in the evening we go back and both of us got visas, but I got a five-year multiple entry and my girlfriend got a six-month visa. She was crying. She did not understand what it meant. 'I can only stay for six months?' I

tried to explain to her that you just need to get in and then everything can be worked out."

While many Indians still want to come to America to work and study, thanks to the triple convergence many of them can now compete at the highest levels, and be decently paid, by staying at home. In a flat world, you can innovate without having to emigrate.

Said Kannan, "My daughter will never have to sweat that out." In a flat world, he explained, "there is no one visa officer who can keep you out of the system . . .

 

It's a plug-and-play world."

One of the most dynamic pluggers and players I met in India was Rajesh Rao, founder and CEO of Dhruva Interactive, a small Indian game company based in Bangalore. If I could offer you one person who embodies the triple convergence, it is Rajesh. He and his firm show us what happens when an Indian zippie plugs into the ten flatteners.

Dhruva is located in a converted house on a quiet street in a residential neighborhood of Bangalore. When I stopped in for avisit, I found two floors of Indian game designers and artists, trained in computer graphics, working on PCs, drawing various games and animated characters for American and European clients. The artists and designers were istening to music on headphones as they worked. Occasionally, they took a break by playing a group computer game, in which all the designers could try to chase and kill one another at once on their computer screens. Dhruva has already produced some very innovative games- from a computer tennis game you can play on the screen of your cell phone to a computer pool game you can play on your PC or laptop. In 2004, it bought the rights to use Charlie Chaplin's image for mobile computer games. That's right-a start-up Indian game company today owns the Chaplin image for use in mobile computer games.

In Bangalore and in later e-mail conversations, I asked Rajesh, who is in his early thirties, to walk me through how he became a player in the global game business from Bangalore.

"The first defining moment for me dates back to the early nineties," said Rajesh, a smallish, mustachioed figure with the ambition of a heavyweight boxer. "Having lived and worked in Europe, as a student, I was clear in my choice that I would not leave India. I wanted to do my thing from India, do something that would be globally respected and something that would make a difference in India. I started my company in Bangalore as a one-man operation on March 15, 1995. My father gave me the seed money for the bank loan that bought me a computer and a 14.4 kbp modem. I set out to do multimedia applications aimed at the education and industry sectors. By 1997, we were a five-man team. We had done some pathbreaking work in our chosen field, but we realized that this was not challenging us enough. End of Dhruva 1.0. "In March 1997, we partnered with Intel and began the process of reinventing ourselves into a gaming company. By mid-1998, we were showing global players what we were capable of by way of both designing games and developing the outsourced portions of games designed by others. On November 26, 1998, we signed our first major game development project with Infogrames Entertainment, a French gaming company. In hindsight, I think the deal we landed was due to the pragmatism of one man in Infogrames more than anything else. We did a great job on the game, but it was never published. It was a big blow for us, but the quality of our work spoke for itself, so we survived. The most important lesson we learned: We could do it, but we had to get smart. Going for all or nothing-that is, signing up to make only a full game or nothing at all-was not sustainable. We had to look at positioning ourselves differently. End of Dhruva 2.0."

This led to the start of Dhruva's 3.0 era-positioning Dhruva as a provider of game development services. The computer game business is already enormous, every year grossing more revenue than Hollywood, andit already had some tradition of outsourcing game characters to countries like Canada and Australia. "In March 2001, we sent out our new game demo, Saloon, to the world," said Rajesh. "The theme was the American Wild Wild West, and the setting was a saloon in a small town after business hours, with the barman cleaning up ... None of us had ever seen a real saloon before, but we researched the look and feel [of a saloon] using the Internet and Google. The choice of the theme was deliberate. We wanted potential clients in the U.S.A. and Europe to be convinced that Indians can 'get it.' The demo was a hit, it landed us a bunch of outsourced business, and we have been a successful company ever since."

Could he have done this a decade earlier, before the world got so flat? "Never," said Rajesh.Several things had to come together. The first was to have enough installed bandwidth so he could e-mail game content and instructions back and forth between his own company and his American clients. The second factor, said Rajesh, was the spread of PCs for use in both business and at home, with people getting very comfortable using them in a variety of tasks. "PCs are everywhere," he said. "The penetration is relatively decent even in India today."

The third factor, though, was the emergence of the work flow software and Internet applications that made it possible for a Dhruva to go into business as a minimultinational from day one: Word, Outlook, NetMeeting, 3D Studio MAX. But Google is the key. "It's fantastic," said Rajesh. "One of the things that's always an issue

for our clients from the West is, 'Will you Indians be able to understand the subtle nuances of Western content?' Now, to a large extent, it was a very valid question. But the Internet has helped us to be able to aggregate different kinds of content at the touch of a button, and today if someone asks you to make something that looks like Tom and Jerry, you just say 'Google Tom & Jerry' and you've got tons and tons of pictures and information and reviews and write-ups about Tom and Jerry, which you can read and simulate."

While people were focusing on the boom and bust of the dot-coms, Rajesh explained, the real revolution was taking place more quietly. It was the fact that all over the world, people, en masse, were starting to get comfortable with the new global infrastructure. "We are just at the beginning of being efficient in using it," he said. "There is a lot more we can do with this infrastructure, as more and more people shift to becoming paperless in their offices and realize that distances really [do] not matter ... It will supercharge all of this. It's really going to be a different world."

Moreover, in the old days, these software programs would have been priced beyond the means of a little Indian game start-up, but not anymore, thanks in part to the open-source free software movement. Said Rajesh, "The cost of software tools would have remained where the interested parties wanted them to be if it was not for the deluge of rather efficient freeware and shareware products that sprung up in the early 2000s. Microsoft Windows, Office, 3D Studio MAX, Adobe Photoshop-each of these programs would have been priced higher than they are today if not for the many freeware/shareware programs that were comparable and compelling. The Internet brought to the table the element of choice and instant comparison that did not exist before for a little company like ours . . . Already we have in our gaming industry artists and designers working from home, something unimaginable a few years back, given the fact that developing games is a highly interactive process. They connect into the company's internal system over the Internet, using a secure feature called VPN [virtual private network], making their presence no different from the guy in the next cubicle."

The Internet now makes this whole world "like one marketplace," added Rajesh. "This infrastructure is not only going to facilitate sourcing of work to the best price, best quality, from the best place, it is also going to enable a great amount of sharing of practices and knowledge, and it's going to be 'I can learn from you and you can learn from me' like never before. It's very good for the world. The economy is going to drive integration and the integration is going to drive the economy."

There is no reason the United States should not benefit from this trend, Rajesh insisted. What Dhruva is doing is pioneering computer gaming within Indian society. When the Indian market starts to embrace gaming as a mainstream social activity, Dhruva willalready be positioned to take advantage. But by then, heargued, the market "will be so huge that there will be a lot of opportunity for content to come from outside. And, hey, the Americans are way ahead in terms of the ability to know what games can work and what won't work and in terms of being at the cutting edge of design-so this is a bilateral thing . . . Every perceived dollar or opportunity that is lost today [from an American point of view because of outsourcing] is actually going to come back to you times ten, once the market here is unleashed . . . Just remember, we are a 300-million middle class-larger than the size of your country or Europe."

Yes, he noted, India right now has a great advantage in having a pool of educated, low-wage English speakers with a strong service etiquette in their DNA and an enterprising spirit. "So, sure, for the moment, we are leading the so-called wave of service outsourcing of various kinds of new things," said Rajesh. "But I believe that there should be no doubt that this is just the beginning. If [Indians] think that they've got something going and there is something they can keep that's not going to go anywhere, that will be a big mistake, because we have got Eastern Europe, which is waking up, and we have got China, which is waiting to get on the services bandwagon to do various things. I mean, you can source the best product or service or capacity or competency from anywhere in the world today, because of this whole infrastructure that is being put into place. The only thing that inhibits you from doing that is your readiness to make use of this infrastructure. So as different businesses, and as different people, get more comfortable using this infrastructure, you are going to see a huge explosion. It is a matter of five to seven years and we will have a huge batch of excellent English-speaking Chinese graduates coming out of their universities. Poles and Hungarians are already very well connected, very close to Europe, and their cultures are very similar [to Western Europe's]. So today India is ahead, but it has to work very hard if it wants to keep this position.

It has to never stop inventing and reinventing itself."

The raw ambition that Rajesh and so many of his generation possess is worthy of note by Americans-a point I will elaborate on later.

"We can't relax," said Rajesh. "I think in the case of the United States that is what happened a bit. Please look at me: I am from India. We have been at a very different level before in terms of technology and business. But once we saw we had an infrastructure which made the world a small place, we promptly tried to make the best use of it. We saw there were so many things we could do. We went ahead, and today what we are seeing is a result of that. . . There is no time to rest. That is gone.

There are dozens of people who are doing the same thing you are doing, and they are trying to do it better. It is like water in a tray, you shake it and it will find the path of least resistance. That is what is going to happen to so many jobs-they will go to that corner of the world where there is the least resistance and the most opportunity. If there is a skilled person in Timbuktu, he will get work if he knows how to access the rest of the world, which is quite easy today. You can make a Web site and have an e-mail address and you are up and running. And if you are able to demonstrate your work, using the same infrastructure, and if people are comfortable giving work to you, and if you are diligent and clean in your transactions, then you are in business."

Instead of complaining about outsourcing, said Rajesh, Americans and Western Europeans would "be better off thinking about how you can raise your bar and raise yourselves into doing something better. Americans have consistently led in innovation over the last century. Americans whining-we have never seen that before. People like me have learned a lot from Americans. We have learned to become a little more aggressive in the way we market ourselves, which is something we would not have done given our typical British background."

So what is your overall message? I asked Rajesh, before leaving with my head spinning.

"My message is that what's happening now is just the tip of the iceberg . . . What is really necessary is for everybody to wake up to the fact that there is a fundamental shift that is happening in the way people are going to do business. And everyone is going to have to improve themselves and be able to compete. It is just going to be one global market. Look, we just made [baseball] caps for Dhruva to give away. They came from Sri Lanka."

Not from a factory in South Bangalore? I asked.

"Not from South Bangalore," said Rajesh, "even though Bangalore is one of the export hubs for garments. Among the three or four caps we got quotations for, this [Sri Lankan one] was the best in terms of quality and the right price, and we thought the finish was great.

"This is the situation you are going to see moving forward," Rajesh concluded. "If you are seeing all this energy coming out of Indians, it's because we have been underdogs and we have that drive to kind of achieve and to get there . . . India is going to be a superpower and we are going to rule." Rule whom? I asked.

Rajesh laughed at his own choice of words. "It's not about ruling anybody. That's the point. There is nobody to rule anymore. It's about how you can create a great opportunity for yourself and hold on to that or keep creating new opportunities where you can thrive. I think today that rule is about efficiency, it's about collaboration and it is about competitiveness and it is about being a player. It is about staying sharp and being in the game . . . The world is a football field now and you've got to be sharp to be on the team which plays on that field. If you're not good enough, you're going to be sitting and watching the game. That's all."

How Do You Say "Zippie" in Chinese?

As in Bangalore ten years ago, the best place to meet zippies in Beijing today is in the line at the consular section of the U.S. embassy. In Beijing in the summer of 2004, I discovered that the quest by Chinese students for visas to study or work in America was so intense that it had spawned dedicated Internet chat rooms, where Chinese students swapped stories about which arguments worked best with which U.S. embassy consular officials. They even gave the U.S. diplomats names like "Amazon Goddess," "Too Tall Baldy," and "Handsome Guy."

Just how intensely Chinese students strategize over the Internet was revealed, U.S. embassy officials told me, when one day a rookie U.S. consular official had student after student come before him with the same line that some chat room had suggested would work for getting a visa: "I want to go to America to become a famous professor."

After hearing this all day, the U.S. official was suddenly surprised toget one student who came before him and pronounced, "My mother has an artificial limb and I want to go to America to learn how to build a better artificial limb for her." The official was so relieved to hear a new line that he told the young man, "You know, this is the best story I've heard all day. I really salute you. I'm going to give you a visa." You guessed it.

The next day, a bunch of students showed up at the embassy saying they wanted a visa to go to America to learn how to build better artificial limbs for their mothers. Talking to these U.S. embassy officials in Beijing, who are the gatekeepers for these visas, it quickly became apparent to me that they had mixed feelings aboutthe process. On the one hand, they were pleased that so many Chinese wanted to come study and work in America. On the other hand, they wanted to warn American kids: Do you realize what is coming your way? As one U.S. embassy official in Beijing said to me, "What I see happening [in China] is what has been going on for the last several decades in the rest of Asia-the tech booms, the tremendous energy of the people. I saw it elsewhere, but now it is happening here."

I was visiting Yale in the spring of 2004. As I was strolling through the central quad, near the statue of Elihu Yale, two Chinese-speaking tours came through, with Chinese tourists of all ages. Chinese have started to tour the world in large numbers, and as China continues to develop toward a more open society, it is quite likely that Chinese leisure tourists will alter the whole world-tourism industry.

But Chinese are not visiting Yale just to admire the ivy. Consider these statistics from Yale's admissions office. The fall 1985 class had 71 graduate and undergraduate students from China and 1 from the Soviet Union. The fall 2003 class had 297 Chinese graduate and undergraduate students and 23 Russians. Yale's total international student contingent went from 836 in the fall of 1985 to 1,775 in the fall of 2003.

Applications from Chinese and Russian high school students to attend Yale as undergraduates have gone from a total of 40 Chinese for the class of 2001 to 276 for the class of 2008, and 18 Russians for the class of 2001 to 30 for the class of 2008.

In 1999, Yiting Liu, a schoolgirl from Chengdu, China, got accepted to Harvard on a full scholarship. Her parents then wrote a build-your-own handbook about how they managed to prepare their daughter to get accepted to Harvard. The book, in Chinese, titled Harvard Girl Yiting Liu, offered "scientifically proven methods" to get your Chinese kid into Harvard. The book became a runaway best seller in China. By 2003 it had sold some 3 million copies and spawned more than a dozen copycat books about how to get your kid into Columbia, Oxford, or Cambridge.

While many Chinese aspire to go to Harvard and Yale, they aren't just waiting around to get into an American university. They are also trying to build their own at home. In 2004,1 was a speaker for the 150th anniversary of Washington University in St. Louis, a school noted for its strength in science and engineering. Mark Wrighton, the university's thoughtful chancellor, and I were chatting before the ceremony. He mentioned in passing that in the spring of 2001 he had been invited (along with many other foreign and American academic leaders) to Tsinghua University in Beijing, one of the finest in China, to participate in the celebration of its ninetieth anniversary.

He said the invitation left him scratching his head at first: Why would any university celebrate its ninetieth anniversary-not its hundredth?

"Perhaps a Chinese tradition?" Wrighton asked himself. When he arrived at Tsinghua, though, he learned the answer. The Chinese had brought academics from all over the world to Tsinghua-more than ten thousand people attended the ceremony-in order to make the declaration "that at the one hundredth anniversary Tsinghua University would be among the world's premier universities," Wrighton later explained to me in an e-mail. "The event involved all of the leaders of the Chinese government, from the Mayor of Beijing tothe head of state. Each expressed the conviction that an investment in the university to support its development as one of the world's great universities within ten years would be a rewarding one. With Tsinghua University already regarded as one of the leading universities in China, focused on science and technology, it was evident that there is a seriousness of purpose in striving for a world leadership position in [all the areas involved] in spawning technological innovation."

And as a result of China's drive to succeed, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates argued to me, the "ovarian lottery" has changed-as has the whole relationship between geography and talent. Thirty years ago, he said, if you had a choice between being born a genius on the outskirts of Bombay or Shanghai or being born an average person in Poughkeepsie, you would take Poughkeepsie, because your chances of thriving and living a decent life there, even with average talent, were much greater. But as the world has gone flat, Gates said, and so manypeople can now plug and play from anywhere, natural talent has started to trump geography.

"Now," he said, "I would rather be a genius born in China than an average guy born in Poughkeepsie."

That's what happens when the Berlin Wall turns into the Berlin mall and 3 billion people converge with all these new tools for collaboration. "We're going to tap into the energy and talent of five times as many people as we did before," said Gates.

 

From Russia with Love

I didn't get a chance to visit Russia and interview Russian zippies for this book, but I did the next best thing. I asked my friend Thomas R. Pickering, the former U.S. ambassador to Moscow and now a top international relations executive with Boeing, to explain a new development I had heard about: that Boeing was using Russian engineers and scientists, who once worked on MiGs, to help design its next generation of passenger planes.

Pickering unraveled the story for me. Beginning in 1991, Boeing started assigning out work to Russian scientists to take advantage of their expertise in aerodynamic problems and new aviation alloys. In 1998, Boeing decided to take this a step further and open an aeronautical engineering design office in Moscow. Boeing located the office in the twelve-story Moscow tower that McDonald's built with all the rubles it made from selling Big Macs in Moscow before the end of communism- money that McDonald's had pledged not to take out of the country.

Seven years later, said Pickering, "we now have eight hundred Russian engineers and scientists working for us and we're going up to at least one thousand and maybe, over time, to fifteen hundred." The way it works, he explained, is that Boeing contracts with different Russian aircraft companies-companies that were famous in the Cold War for making warplanes, companies with names like Ilyushin, Tupolev, and Sukhoi-and they provide the engineers-to-order for Boeing's different projects. Using French-made airplane design software, the Russian engineers collaborate with their colleagues at Boeing America -in both Seattle and Wichita, Kansas-in computer-aided airplane designs. Boeing has set up a twenty-four-hour workday. It consists of two shifts in Moscow and one shift in America. Using fiber-optic cables, advanced compression technologies, and aeronautical work flow software, "they just pass their designs back and forth from Moscow to America," Pickering said. There are videoconferencing facilities on every floor of Boeing's Moscow office, so the engineers don't have to rely on e-mail when they have a problem to solve with their American counterparts. They can have a face-to-face conversation.

Boeing started outsourcing airplane design workto Moscow as an experiment, a sideline; but today, with a shortage of aeronautical engineers in America, it is a necessity.

Boeing's ability to blend these lower-cost Russian engineers with higher-cost, more advanced American design teams is enabling Boeing to compete head-to-head with its archrival, Airbus Industries, which is subsidized by a consortium of European governments and is using Russian talent as well. A U.S. aeronautical engineer costs $120 per design hour; a Russian costs about one-third of that.

But the outsourcees are also outsourcers. The Russian engineers have outsourced elements of their work for Boeing to Hindustan Aeronautics in Bangalore, which specializes in digitizing airplane designs so as to make them easier to manufacture.

But this isn't the half of it. In the old days, explained Pickering, Boeing would say to its Japanese subcontractors, "We will send you the plans for the wings of the 777. We will let you make some of them and then we will count on you buying the whole airplanes from us. It's a win-win."

Today Boeing says to the giant Japanese industrial company Mitsubishi, "Here are the general parameters for the wings of the new 7E7. You design the finished product and build it." But Japanese engineers are very expensive. So what happens? Mitsubishi outsources elements of the outsourced 7E7 wing to the same Russian engineers Boeing is using for other parts of the plane. Meanwhile, some of these Russian engineers and scientists are leaving the big Russian airplane companies, setting up their own firms, and Boeing is considering buying shares in some of these start-ups to have reserve engineering capacity.

All of this global sourcing is for the purpose of designing and building planes faster and cheaper, so that Boeing can use its cash to keep innovating for the next generation and survive the withering competition from Airbus. Thanks to the triple convergence, it now takes Boeing eleven days to build a 737, down from twenty-eight days just a few years ago. Boeing will build its next generation of planes in three days, because

all the parts are being computer-designed for assembly, and Boeing's global supply chain will enable it to move parts from one facility to another just in time.

To make sure that it is getting the best deals on its parts and other supplies, Boeing now runs regular "reverse auctions," in which companies bid down against each other rather than bid up against each other. Theybid for contracts on everything from toilet paper for the Boeing factories to nuts and bolts-the off-the-shelf commodity parts-for Boeing's supply chain. Boeing will announce an auction for a stated time on a specially designed Internet site. It will begin the auction for each supply item at what it considers a fair price. Then it will just sit back and watch how far each supplier wants to undercut the others to win Boeing's business. Bidders are prequalified by Boeing, and everyone can see everyone else's bids as they are submitted.

"You can really see the pressures ofthe marketplace and how they work," said Pickering.

"It's like watching a horse race."

 

The Other Triple Convergence

I once heard Bill Bradley tell a story about a high-society woman from Boston who goes to San Francisco for the first time. When she comes home and is asked by a friend how she liked it, she says, "Not very much-it's too far from the ocean."

The perspective and predispositions that you carry around in your head are very important in shaping what you see and what you don't see. That helps to explain why a lot of people missed the triple convergence. Their heads were completely somewhere else-even though it was happening right before their eyes. Three other things-another convergence- came together to create this smoke screen.

The first was the dot-com bust, which began in March 2001. As I said earlier, many people wrongly equated the dot-com boom with globalization. So when the dot-com boom went bust, and so many dot-coms (and the firms that supported them) imploded, these same people assumed that globalization was imploding as well. The sudden flameout of dogfood.com and ten other Web sites offering to deliver ten pounds of puppy chow to your door in thirty minutes was supposed to be proof that globalization and the IT revolution were all sizzle and no beef. This was pure foolishness. Those who thought that globalization was the same thing as the dot-com boom and that the dot-com bust marked the end of globalization could not have been more wrong. To say it again, the dot-com bust actually drove globalization into hypermode by forcing companies to outsource and offshore more and more functions in order to save on scarce capital. This was a key factor in laying the groundwork for Globalization 3.0. Between the dot-com bust and today, Google went from processing roughly 150 million searches per day to roughly one billion searches per day, with only a third coming from inside the United States. As its auction model caught on worldwide, eBay went from twelve hundred employees in early 2000 to sixty-three hundred by 2004, all in the period when globalization was supposed to be "over."

Between 2000 and 2004, total global Internet usage grew 125 percent, including percent in Africa, 209 percent in Latin America, 124 percent in Europe, and 105 percent in North America, according to Nielsen/ NetRatings. Yes, globalization sure ended, all right.

It was not just the dot-com bust and all the hot air surrounding it that obscured all this from view. There were two other big clouds that moved in. The biggest, of course, was 9/11, which was a profound shock to the American body politic. Given 9/11, and the Afghanistan and Iraq invasions that followed, it's not surprising that the triple convergence was lost in the fog of war and the chatter of cable television.

Finally, there was the Enron corporate governance scandal, quickly followed by blowups at Tyco and WorldCom-which all sent CEOs and the Bush administration running for cover. CEOs, with some justification, became guilty until proven innocent of boardroom shenanigans, and even the slavishly probusiness, pro-CEO Bush administration was wary of appearing-in public-to be overly solicitous of the concerns of big business. In the spring of 2004,1 met with the head of one of America's biggest technology companies, who had come to Washington to lobby for more federal funding for the National Science Foundation to help nurture a stronger industrial base for American industry. I asked him why the administration wasn't convening a summit of CEOs to highlight this issue, and he just shook his head and said one word: "Enron."

The result: At the precise moment when the world was being flattened, and the triple convergence was reshaping the whole global business environment-requiring some very important adjustments in our own society and that of many other Western developed nations-American politicians not only were not educating the American public, they were actively working to make it stupid. During the 2004 election campaign we saw the Democrats debating whether NAFTA was a good idea and the Bush White House putting duct tape over the mouth of N. Gregory Mankiw, the chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, and stashing him away in Dick Cheney's basement, because Mankiw, author of a popular college economics textbook, had dared to speak approvingly of oursourcing as just the "latest manifestation of the gains from trade that economists have talked about at least since Adam Smith."

Mankiw's statement triggered a competition for who could say the most ridiculous thing in response. The winner was Speaker of theHouse Dennis Hastert, who said that Mankiw's "theory fails a basic test of real economics." And what test was that, Dennis? Poor Mankiw was barely heard from again.

For all these reasons, most people missed the triple convergence. Something really big was happening, and it was simply not part of public discourse in America or Europe.

Until I visited India in early 2004,1 too was largely ignorant of it, although I was picking up a few hints that something was brewing. One of the most thoughtful business leaders I have come to know over the years is Nobuyuki Idei, the chairman of Sony.

Whenever he speaks, I pay close attention. We saw each other twice during 2004, and both times he said something through his heavy Japanese accent that stuck in my ear.

Idei said that a change was under way in the business-technology world that would be remembered, in time, like "the meteor that hit the earth and killed all the dinosaurs." Fortunately, the cutting-edge global companies knew what was going on out there, and the best companies were quietly adapting to it so that they would not be one of those dinosaurs.

As I started researching this book, I felt at times like I was in a Twilight Zone segment. I would interview CEOs and technologists from major companies, both American-based and foreign, and they would describe in their own ways what I came to call the triple convergence. But, for all the reasons I explained above, most of them weren't telling the public or the politicians. They were either too distracted, too focused on their own businesses, or too afraid. It was like they were all "pod people," living in a parallel universe, who were in on a big secret. Yes, they all knew the secret-but nobody wanted to tell the kids.

Well, here's the truth that no one wanted to tell you: The world has been flattened.

As a result of the triple convergence, global collaboration and competition-between individuals and individuals, companies and individuals, companies and companies, and companies and customers-have been made cheaper, easier, more friction-free, and more productive for more people from more corners of the earth than at any time in the history of the world.

You know "the IT revolution" that the business press has been touting for the last twenty years? Sorry, but that was only the prologue. The last twenty years were just about forging, sharpening, and distributing all the new tools with which to collaborate and connect. Now the real IT revolution is about to begin, as all the complementarities between these tools start to really work together to level the playing field. One of those who pulled back the curtain and called this moment by its real name was HP's Carly Fiorina, who in 2004 began to declare in her public speeches that the dot-com boom and bust were just "the end of the beginning." The last twenty-five years in technology, said Fiorina, then the CEO of HP, have been just "the warm-up act." Now we are going into the main event, she said, "and by the main event, I mean an era in which technology will literally transform every aspect of business, every aspect of life and every aspect of society."

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