Information technology behind global shakeup: NYT columnist

Information technology behind global shakeup: NYT columnist

Summary: Tom Friedman: 'It used to be that only cheap foreign manual labor was easily available; now cheap foreign genius is easily available.'


For years at this blogsite, we've been arguing that information technology is more than merely a tool for increasing efficiency within company operations. IT has become a catalyst for something far larger, an instrument of transformation -- opening up data and knowledge to decision makers at all levels; increasing pliability to respond faster and more aggressively to market opportunities; enabling companies to evolve as nimble brokers of services, matching producers and consumers; and empowering individual professionals, managers and employees with greater productivity and capabilities.

The Great Digital Awakening: Citizens of Iceland employed social media to rewrite their constitution earlier this year.

That's just the opening act in this new IT era. New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, author of The World is Flat, urges us to think even bigger when it comes to IT.  In his latest column, he looks at all the events erupting around the globe — from the Arab Spring uprisings to European Union turmoil to economic displacements — and says this new global shakeup has a common fabric underneath: information technology:

“Globalization and the information technology revolution have gone to a whole new level. Thanks to cloud computing, robotics, 3G wireless connectivity, Skype, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, the iPad, and cheap Internet-enabled smartphones, the world has gone from connected to hyper-connected. This is the single most important trend in the world today.”

The same IT that is empowering and emboldening movements against autocratic regimes or unresponsive governments is also shifting opportunities away from manual, physical, or easily repeatable work, rewarding those that “study harder, work smarter and adapt quicker than ever before,” Friedman adds. On one level, the mix of IT and globalization is creating immense new wealth.

On another level, it is widening the gap between people stuck in the older economy and those charging into the new. Witness all the outsourcing that has taken place in recent years. As Friedman puts it: “It used to be that only cheap foreign manual labor was easily available; now cheap foreign genius is easily available.”

Even CEOs and other top executives should take note on how information technology is turning the pyramid upside down, Friedman says.

Cross-posted at SmartPlanet Business Brains.

Topic: CXO

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  • IT technology - a major tool used to bring down SA Apartheid Government

    For a number of years I worked doing database development for the NGO (non government organization) sector in South Africa.

    At that time the only organizations that had Internet access was 3 universities and a few companies like the Ford Motor Corporation (SA). This was to link these companies to their overseas head offices. There where no commercial ISP's.

    During the apartheid struggle in South Africa two floppy disks were smuggled into South Africa to setup what was to be come "The Southern African NGO Network or SANGONeT. This was back in 1987.

    Connectivity to the outside world was provided under the umbrella of - Association for Progressive Communication.

    The NGO and advocacy groups got hocked up to the net for a very low fee.

    This real-time communication platform allowed the anti-apartheid movement to organize and mobilize against the then apartheid government.

    The government of the day had NO idea of this tool that was used to completely out fox and out maneuver them time and again.

    Due to the power of the Internet, the overseas press, published news reports before the government actual knew about the rolling mass actions happening a few blocks away from them.

    This power of mass action just continues to grow!
    • Outsourcing and cheap labor markets have always been available,

      and the big game changers haven't been the IT world or cloud or interconnectivity or the fast flow of information. Those are important, but, the biggest reasons for much of the upheaval of the world has been the economic practices, which have forced rich countries to outsource much of their businesses and labor to cheaper markets. That had been occurring before the internet and before Tom Friedman even thought of a new excuse for the current turmoil and changing markets.

      The world is not flat, and Tom Friedman is an idiot.
  • RE: Information technology behind global shakeup: NYT columnist

    Amazing article and its true. I have a <a href="" title="web design company in Egypt"> web design company in Egypt</a> and we are getting orders from the USA without even trying. We offer better prices.
    Of coarse manual labor like cleaning the streets etc, is not going away soon since the robotics for it are far away. But yes jobs are being lost especially where people do not adapt. For example 2 years ago, we just did web development, today if we do not also do SEO, Social Marketing and viral applications we would not work at all. The continual need to change, makes some people in my organization that are more able to change more valuable and thus higher paid.
    These are the new rules and Joe McKendrick put them in a good way.