Friday, April 6, 2007

Globalization and Technology

I was recently invited to speak to a group of professionals under the auspices of the International Resources Group Inc at Rochester, NY about "Globalization and Technology". The points I made during my talk can be summarized as :

1. Globalization is nothing new. It is as old as human existence.

2. Globalization itself is neither good nor bad. Like any other aspect of human endeavor, it’s impacts can either be good or bad. And we can control that.

3. Technology is the key enabler of the current rapid pace of Globalization. Globalization and Technology have a symbiotic relationship with each gaining from the other.

4. Maintaining technological leadership is essential to ensuring leadership position in the global economy.

5. “Integrated Diversity” of the US population makes it uniquely poised to reap the benefits of globalization.

The first point surprised a few listeners who had till now viewed globalization as a current economic phenomenon.

I believe that Globalization is as old as humankind itself. Migration of people, ideas and inter regional commerce has been an integral part of the human experience on this planet.

Spread of Christianity, Islam and Buddhism to places far from their places of origin was a manifestation of globalization. As were the journeys of Christopher Columbus, Marco Polo, Vasco Da Gama, Magellan and many others who followed in their footsteps.

Even when the earth was considered to be flat , there was always a strong urge to peek just beyond the rim to see what lay there and how one could benefit from it.

I can visualize Geico’s famous cavemen sitting around a fire discussing the impact of writing on clay tablets since now they were no longer confined to painting on their cave walls. And as always, some would have predicted the end of the world and others would have seized the opportunity and tried to make the most of it.

So while Globalization has always been there, what has changed today is the pace with which its influence, reach and impact can be felt around the globe.

The point about "Integrated Diversity" also sparked some discussion. The US has the unique advantage of having amongst its citizenry & workforce people from all parts of the globe. This “integrated diversity” is not yet fully utilized by corporations to it’s full potential. No other country operating in the global arena has this advantage. You may not find a Fijian or an Icelander in China but you would very well do in the US. And that’s a strength which needs to be leveraged .

The rise of India and China is often used to scare people in the US. I do not think that is valid. Technological leadership will determine whether we end up as victims or victors in this race. We have that edge right now and it is up to all of us to ensure that we do not allow our leaders to take their eye of the ball as far as funding technical education and innovation is concerned.


Speedmaster said...

I think globalization is great, that and free trade make us all wealthier via specialization. The only problem I have with it is that open borders are incompatible w/ the welfare state.

S.M.Seth said...

You have covered many relevant points on Globalization & Technology. There is however,cultural dimension also.Various cultures have evolved over centuries with significant influence of local Climate, Geography and History.This has been all disturbed to the advantage of some and at the same time to the disadvantage of many.

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