Jacqueline: Today’s letter is G. G is for globalization. Globalization is the process by which businesses or organizations develop international influence or start operations on an international scale. There are some fears about the increase in globalization of the economy, the world, and all of the crossing over of boundaries, because with globalization you find that there’s an increasing integrated global economy marked especially by free trade, free-flow of capital, and the tapping into of cheap foreign labor markets.
In some ways, there’s the fear of increased exploitation of cheap foreign labor, which with that means the sending of jobs and income out of the country. Although in response we get cheap products, at the same time, if half of our workforce isn’t working, then they can’t afford to purchase those. There are ups and downs of globalization, and there are a lot of conversations and debates around it. There’s a lot of good information on the internet to further explore globalization. As you know, I like to hone in on something that’s specific, tangible, and on how it affects you on a day-to-day basis. The concept of globalization, trading with our partners across the sea and across the world, even something that a company I worked with did 10 years ago, which was around-the-clock workforce.
When we shut down at five o’clock or six o’clock, turned it over. We forwarded all of the work and phone calls to a number of people in a different part of the world where it was morning for them. They would pick up where we left off. While we’re sleeping, they’re continuing to do the work, whether it was software development, testing, design, supporting the customers. And then the same thing would happen at the end of their day; they rotated to another group who would work it further through the night until it was morning, when we would pick it up. That is an around-the-clock, 24-hour operation. 10-15 years ago, that concept was catching on in the IT industry, so imagine how much software you could push out faster. You weren’t just dependent on your local workforce who were putting in eight hours a day, but you literally had a 24-hour workforce. Quite a challenge for project managers to keep up with, but it made a lot of sense. I’ve seen it be very successful.
Again, with globalization, that means you’re working with people from different cultures, different dialects, and different work ethics. Something that I’ve talked about before is team-building. Building a team, yet you have totally different timezones, cultures, the languages. Even if everyone is speaking the same language, you have different accents and different understandings. These are all the things that happen when you try to have a global workforce.
The other thing I’ve seen that has impacted me personally in a job role is we had software that we originally wrote for a local in-user base, but when we wanted to globalize it, we had to do a lot of studying, training, and bringing in a lot of different subject matter experts. A prime example is when we went to purchase and implement software here in the United States. We used the stakeholder requirements for the United States, but then when we did finally bring in the different countries, it became very evident that different countries had different exceptions which required different requirements of the software vendor and implementation. Trying to find a one solution to fit a lot of different countries can be a challenge in and of itself.
Let’s talk about globalization over the centuries and the impact that the digital era has had on globalization. What I want to do is compare the 20th century to the 21st century, and I want to credit huffingtonpost.com. James Manyika created a chart of digital globalization. On the lefthand side it shows the 20th century and on the right, the 21st.
In the 20th century, we had a flow of tangible goods. Here in the 21st century, thanks to the digital era, we don’t just have tangible goods that are going back and forth, but data and information is also flowing. We see in every day news a common topic: other countries being able to tamper with our elections here in the United States; that is the downside.
The other component of globalization in the 20th century is flow was mainly between advanced economies, whereas in the 21st century, the digital era is leveling the playing field if you know how to leverage it. So, there’s greater participation in globalization by emerging economies.
In the 20th century, there was capital-and-labor-intensive flows, while today, there are more knowledge-intensive flows.
In the 20th century, transportation infrastructure was critical for flows, so moving freights back and forth because it was mainly physical goods. In the 21st century, it’s all about digital infrastructure becoming equally as important as the transportation infrastructure.
One thing that was brought to my attention is that in emerging companies, instead of them starting with old technology, since they are just entering into the digital world, they’re starting off with 4G and 5G networks. They’re catching up very quickly because they’re jumping on the on-ramp of the information highway and starting with the latest, greatest, and current. Again, that’s why emerging economies are quickly catching up with advanced economies when it comes to the digital infrastructure.
In the 20th century, these was a greater focus on multinational companies who were driving globalization. Now, there’s a growing role of small enterprises and individuals. In our archives, we’ve interviewed people that are starting their businesses internationally, and they’re just one man or mom-and-pop type organizations. They learn the laws and process, work with ambassadors that help businesses do business globally, and then of course leverage technology, because you can do the same things internationally from your laptop.
In the 20th century, the flow was of mainly monetized transaction whereas now, we’re seeing more exchanges of free content and services.
In the 20th century, ideas diffused slowly across borders whereas today, there is instant global access to information.
The last one is, in the 20th century, innovation flowed from advanced to emerging economies. In the 21st century, we can expect innovation to flow in both directions.
Again, entrepreneurs are going global a lot quicker and a lot sooner using digital resources and leveraging technology. That’s why when we talk about STEM, always remember that T kind of stands out, because it’s the great bridge across all of the other areas, and it’s the great equalizer. Take that to heart, digest that, and enjoy that until our next episode. Bye for now.