Pathway #7: Globalization – With the explosion of outsourcing and collaboration software that enables us to easily spread even the simplest procedures around the planet, we have quickly grown familiar with the concept of globalization. But we are only beginning to grasp its true implications.
Globalization doesn’t apply exclusively to information. We’re seeing the globalization of everything . Additionally, there are degrees and levels of globalization. It’s one thing to manufacture and sell products in markets throughout the world; it’s an entirely different thing to customize them for differences in the various markets of the world.
A Mercedes is a Mercedes, no matter where you buy it but when you buy a Toyota in Asia, it’s different from the Toyota you’d buy in the United States. (For one thing, the steering wheel is on the right and the car itself is smaller.)
Likewise, it’s one thing if the members of your company’s board have passports with stamps from all over the world, and quite another when your board is composed of people who actually hail from those different parts of the world. In 2005, Sir Howard Stringer became CEO of Sony, giving the company a top executive who was not Japanese for the first time in its history.
As our companies’ board and staff composition globalizes, we’ll reach a point where it won’t matter where the company originated. The focus will be more on new job creation than the country of origin of the hiring company. In fact, companies won’t be “from” anywhere; or to put it another way, they’ll be “from” everywhere.
Pathway #8: Convergence – All of these pathways tend to overlap and interact, which only increases their acceleration. In fact, convergence has itself become a pathway of technological advancement.
For example, entire industries are converging. Filling stations and convenience stores converged in the ’80s. In the ’90s, so did coffee shops and bookstores. Those were mere 20th Century convergences, though. Today, it’s really heating up. The entire industries of telecommunications, consumer electronics, and IT are all converging and becoming, in essence, one thing.
There’s also product convergence. Look at your cell phone: how many products have converged into that little thing sitting on your palm? The modern smartphone is an e-mail device, a camera, and a video camera. You can do three-way calling on it. And because it has contact management and a calendar, it’s also a complete organizer.
The even smarter iPhone took convergence to another level, bringing a genuine Web-browsing experience (with Google maps, phone directories, and more) together with all the normal phone functionalities, so you could hunt for a restaurant, find it on the map, and dial it for a reservation, all on the same device. Along with all that, plus e-mail, camera, and video camera, plus YouTube player, it was a full-feature iPod, complete with WiFi music store. And of course, there are all those apps!
Now we’re starting to see the convergence of convergences.
The Internet was born of the convergence of the phone and the computer. Google Maps and MapQuest converged the Internet with maps, and now GPS has given us the convergence of MapQuest and our cars.
That’s dematerialization, virtualization, mobility, product intelligence, interactivity, and networks. Take a close look at where the parts of your car were manufactured, and chances are you’ve got globalization there, too. This means you have all eight pathways converging in a single technology that you use every day.
That is exactly what’s beginning to happen everywhere: all eight pathways are interacting with one another, the transforming whole becoming far bigger than the sum of its parts.
In the second part of this report, to be published next Tuesday, Dan will present the three digital accelerators driving these advancements.
Daniel Burrus is considered one of the world’s leading technology forecasters and business strategists, and is the founder and CEO of Burrus Research, a research and consulting firm that monitors global advancements in technology driven trends to help clients better understand how technological, social and business forces are converging to create enormous, untapped opportunities. He is the author of six books, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal best seller Flash Foresight: How To See the Invisible and Do the Impossible as well as the highly acclaimed Technotrends.