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A Review of The World is Flat from an IT Perspective

Aug 17, 2007
Not long after "The World is Flat, A brief History of the Twenty-First Century" by Thomas L. Friedman came out, I read the book. I found the theme of the book to be an excellent theme for a web site, especially in internet marketing. My web site specializes in self-publishing, marketing, research and freelance writing, and uses Friedman's comments to emphasize ways to market and reach customers.

I started to see other reviews of the book The World is Flat from a variety of sources. One of those sources was Processor Magazine. This book review was done by Dean Takahashi, July 1, 2005.

Processor Magazine is described on their web site as follows: "Processor is a leading trade publication that provides products, news, and information key data center employees can trust. Processor's format provides a comprehensive display of corporate equipment and services, including storage, communications, and servers. You'll also find product announcements, marketplace information, and other articles designed to keep data center and IT employees up-to-date with the latest news that matters most.

Published weekly, Processor is distributed to data center managers and other computer buying decision makers throughout North America."

I find the review in Processor to be unique in the sense that this is a trade publication specifically for IT employees. It is some of these employees that are being "out-sourced" from American companies to those overseas. How can they feel about the premise made by Friedman that: "the flattening of the globe, where U.S. professionals will compete against educated rivals in other countries who are willing to work for much smaller salaries."

The review by Processor Magazine notes: "For many IT managers, Friedman's explanations of technologies may come off as pedestrian. But he delivers his argument with immediacy and a breadth that can only come from someone who has traveled the globe and met with government leaders and captains of business."

After reading the book and reading this and other reviews, I fully agree with the article when it notes: "Until you see what Friedman has witnessed, it's hard to adsorb just how fast globalization is transforming the rest of the world and why 3 billion people across the globe are now ready to compete for your job."

Still Friedman notes that in reacting to this "flattening", "Don't build walls." His solutions for small, medium and large companies are more progressive.

Small companies need to act large. They need to "tap the tools that can make them global, such as using UPS not only to ship computers but to repair them as well."

He states that "Every company needs to collaborate." Further he states about outsourcing: "If you outsource, do it to innovate and grow faster, not just to save money and fire more people."

About individuals, he says: "The flat world will create more jobs for everyone. But knowledge workers have to strive upward, if your job as an illustrator is threatened; provide higher-level service as an illustration consultant."

However, as the Processor review notes: "Friedman warns there is a quiet crisis in the United States, driven by the decline of its science, engineering, and manufacturing competitiveness."

Further the Processor review states; "Friedman describes his meetings, whether he's sitting across the table from India's top outsourcing executive or dining with a venture capitalist in Palo Alto. He plays golf in downtown Bangalore, India, when his partner tells him to aim his ball at IBM or Microsoft. That's an apt metaphor for what enterprising young Indians are doing to American industry."

In reading both the book and the Processor review, I agree that Friedman has a unique perspective. The Processor review notes: "He [Friedman] shows familiar technical issues from a global perspective that weave in social, political, and cultural analysis.
Friedman has looked at these forces closely and can dissect them from multiple points of view. U.S. IT professionals may see offshore-crazy executives as Benedict Arnolds, but if they could see what Friedman has seen in his global travels, they might understand what to do in response to globalization. Better to manage it then to stand in its way."

One statement that is both haunting and ominous, as noted by the Processor review; "Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates tells Friedman that today he would rather be born a genius in China than an average guy in Poughkeepsie."

The Processor review notes the following Key Concepts in Friedman's book:

The barriers to entry are leveling across the globe. Globalization's pace is accelerating and threatens to overtake anyone not ready for it.

It isn't always clear who is exploiting whom. It some aspects, both parties benefit. Knowledge workers must move up the value chain.

The flat world will bring bigger markets than everyone can exploit.

I would recommend this book to any IT or technical professional that is concerned about job security, future job prospects or where the corporate world is headed. Often, outsourcing and job loss due to global competition tends to make us feel like victims. Friedman's book The World is Flat portrays this new globalization or flattening as a new force to be reckoned with and to be managed. However, as Friedman portrays it, we are not victims, but we do need to be smarter in the ways we approach the new global markets and look at our society, culture and business.
About the Author
H. Court Young is a writer, author, publisher and a geologist. I specialize in research, freelance writing and self publishing -
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