I’ve got a new favourite ‘quote of the day’ having listened to Thomas Friedman - ‘if Walmart were a country it would be China’s 8th largest trading partner’. This was part of his no doubt oft-presented keynote based in his ‘best-selling’ book The World is Flat in which he described his ideas around how the world has changed.
To recap (and I’m paraphrasing, so do forgive me) on his missive (which we’ve all no doubt read), he describes the ‘three great eras of globalisation’: 1. the 1490’s to 1890’s where nation states ruled as the dominant factor; 2. the 1890’s to 2000 where the Corporation is king, searching for markets and people; 3. 2000 to now, here the individual (you and me) rules - able to compete anywhere in the world as a ‘global individual’. Hence the idea of a global economic playing field being levelled (flattened - geddit?). Key events (primarily technological) playing a key role in the process - Windows-enabled PC content (enabling individuals to author themselves), Netscape going public, giving life to the WWW and triggering the .net bubble, fibre-optics covering the earth, software interoperability allowing collaboration, the uploading of individual content (blogging for example), ‘informing’ – the ability to find out pretty much anything you want using Google..... and so on and so on. An entertaining 30 minutes but one where, if you boil it down, leads to the simple conclusion (forgive me Tom) that technology has enabled the world - I suppose ‘flat’ is a useful descriptor. It certainly had the crowd entertained.......
....... As did Xansa’s very own Chairman, Bill Alexander who managed to weave an unlikely pair of bedfellows Mozart and rock-meisters The Arctic Monkeys (possibly the first time those two have been used in the same sentence) into his talk on how business leaders need to embrace the challenge of globalisation if they are to create wealth for their businesses and shareholders - the Arctic Monkeys shunning traditional rock promotion and doing their own thing for free (initially) on the web, and Mozart living in a time when every performance was live, dying a pauper, and with a legacy now a £9bn a year global industry.
A definite business school case study in the making. Lots on the agenda tomorrow as the conference splits into four separate and parallel tracks - haven’t quite worked out how to be in four places as once - perhaps I can outsource. Now there’s a thought.