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TECH TALK: Extreme Competition: Five Drivers (Part 2)

March 17th, 2006 · No Comments

Peter Fingar writes in his book Extreme Competition:

4. Three Billion New Capitalists

The years 1979, 1989 and 1991 could be the most significant years in portending the world economy for the 21st century.

In July 1977, Deng Xiaoping was reinstated in all the Party and government posts he had been dismissed from during Mao Zedongs cultural revolution.

In 1989, the Berlin Wall came tumbling down shifting the Soviet Empire into a market-driven group of independent nation states.
And in 1991, Manmohan Singh, the finance minister and now prime minister of India, moved the country to abandon Soviet-style central planning, massive bureaucratic socialist regulations, and steep tariffs blocking the import of state-of-the-art equipment, and opened up to free enterprise.

The result of these three watershed years is described at length in Reagan administration trade official, Clyde Prestowitzs book, Three Billion New Capitalists: The Great Shift of Wealth and Power to the East (2005). This is not a book of light reading, or for the faint of heart, according its review in the American Library Associations Booklist by Mary Whaley, Prestowitz, economic trend-spotter, reports, Over the past two decades . . . China, India and the former Soviet Union all decided to leave their respective socialist workers paradise and drive their 3 billion citizens along the once despised capitalist road. These new capitalists symbolize the threats to end 600 years of Western economic domination as Americas lead role in invention and technological innovation lessens and the Internet allows jobs to be performed anywhere.

5. The New IT

It wont be just the satellite/fiber networks that drive the continued globalization of highly skilled white-collar workers, it will be the ability to create virtual work spaces where far flung teams can work together in real time. As globalization continues, the demand for a new generation of technology support for work accomplished by geographically dispersed teams becomes clear.

The Old IT applied automation to information; the New IT applies automation to relationships. The Old IT was about keeping records and transmitting data; the New IT is about connecting and collaborating to get work donenow that productivity doesnt require proximity.

The New IT requires a new kind of leadership, the Chief Process Officer (CPO), not the traditional Chief Information Officer (CIO), whose chief concerns were mostly the management of technical assets. To this extent, the HBR article is certainly correct, traditional IT, the Old IT, doesnt matter, for this form of IT is indeed a commodity. The new CPOs chief concerns will be in providing a technology-enabled capability to manage a companys business process assets and support the ability for knowledge workers to connect and collaborate inside and outside the walls of their companies.

Peter concludes by writing:

Grand notions of business change are particularly problematic. It all boils down to what should you do next Monday morning? While there are no secret formulas, business leaders are well advised to evaluate thenew realities of 21st century business, and ponder business innovations that were once thought to be impractical prior to the wiring of the planet; the resources embodied in three billion new capitalists; the New IT; and the advent of jumbo transportation.

Rather than ripping your company apart, innovative business strategies can now be embraced incrementally with technology enablementone breakout strategy at a time. Change in strategy and operational transformations become matters of portfolio management, not big-bang, rip and replace disruptions. There is much to learn, and many cultural barriers to overcome, but Monday morning is a good day to start your companys incremental business reformation. Better still, today is a great day to start your companys journey to becoming an extreme competitor.


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