Yet another gem by Thomas Friedman, who has been visiting Bangalore:
The first era [of globalization], from the late 1800’s to World War I, was driven by falling transportation costs, thanks to the steamship and the railroad. That was Globalization 1.0, and it shrank the world from a size large to a size medium. The second big era, Globalization 2.0, lasted from the 1980’s to 2000, was based on falling telecom costs and the PC, and shrank the world from a size medium to a size small. Now we’ve entered Globalization 3.0, and it is shrinking the world from size small to a size tiny. That’s what this outsourcing of white-collar jobs is telling us and it is going to require some wrenching adjustments for workers and political systems.
Globalization 3.0 was produced by three forces: First is the massive installation of undersea fiber-optic cable and bandwidth (thanks to the dot-com bubble) that have made it possible to globally transmit and store huge amounts of data for almost nothing. Second is the diffusion of PC’s around the world. And third (what I missed most) is the convergence of a variety of software applications from e-mail, to Google, to Microsoft Office, to specially designed outsourcing programs that, when combined with all those PC’s and bandwidth, made it possible to create global “work-flow platforms.”
These work-flow platforms can chop up any service job accounting, radiology, consulting, software engineering into different functions and then, thanks to scanning and digitization, outsource each function to teams of skilled knowledge workers around the globe, based on which team can do each function with the highest skill at the lowest price. Then the project is reassembled back at headquarters into a finished product.
Thanks to this new work-flow network, knowledge workers anywhere in the world can contribute their talents more than ever before, spurring innovation and productivity. But these same knowledge workers will be under more pressure than ever to constantly upgrade their skills in this Darwinian environment.