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Thomas Friedman

In: Business and Management

Submitted By raen14
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Major world events of the last 25 years irreversibly altered the way we conduct business and collaborate on a global scale. Thomas Friedman identifies and names these events the “ten flatteners,” as discussed in his book “The World is Flat.” Each of these ten flatteners contributed to the changing nature of global communication and information sharing into the 21st century.

The first flattener, the collapse of the Berlin Wall on November 9th, 1989, signified the end of communism and permitted us to view the world on a single flat plane. Only five months later, the first Windows breakthrough operating system was launched. The second flattener, Netscape, is the first commercial browser that connected the Internet with the World Wide Web and brought the Internet alive as a device people could use to connect with one another. Netscape triggered the dot-com bubble and installation of fiber optic cable that allowed people all over the globe to communicate virtually for free. The third flattener, workflow software, revolutionized the way applications can connect with many other applications, allowing people all over the world to work together on more projects than ever before. Workflow software created a global platform for multiple forms of collaboration. The fourth flattener, outsourcing, is the first new form of collaboration empowered by this global communication platform. Offshoring, open-sourcing, supply chaining, insourcing and informing are flatteners four, five, six, seven, eight, and nine respectively. These new forms of collaboration are also empowered by global communication platforms. The last flattener, Friedman nicknames “The Steroids,” which is the wireless voice over the Internet and file sharing that turbocharges the new forms of collaboration.

Ten years have passed since the publishing of “The World is Flat,” leaving room for debate over what the eleventh flattener would be if Friedman extended his list to today. I believe smartphones deserve the title of the “eleventh flattener.” Today, there are nearly two billion smartphone users throughout the world (Bleeker, 2014). Smartphones have made it possible to connect with social media, check emails, shop online, conduct Internet research, and perform countless tasks using over a million mobile applications from all over the world. The rise in popularity of Smartphones led to a sharp increase in global competition that continues to lower the price of technology today. As American’s we are most familiar with smartphones that retail for hundreds of dollars such as the $649 iPhone 6. Nearly 20% of the world’s population earns less than two dollars a day. Now, with smartphones retailing for $35 in developing countries, people can purchase a smartphone with three week's pay as opposed to a full year’s pay (Kessler, 2014). Affordable smartphones will have an enormous impact on the global economy because smartphones are a “productivity platform for wealth creation” (Kessler, 2014). People in poorer countries all over the world are now finding cheaper and more readily accessible smartphones. For millions of these people in countries such as China and India, this is the first time they have access to the plethora of information on the web. Millions of people in poor and poverty-stricken areas can utilize free online education they could otherwise not afford. This worldwide distribution of knowledge creates invaluable opportunities for millions of people, perpetuates innovation, and fosters economic growth.

The latest innovations are not just occurring in Silicon Valley. People in every corner of the world are contributing their valuable ideas and inventions to the worldwide growth of technology. In December of 2014, Xiaomi, a Chinese smartphone maker, became the world’s most valuable tech startup, valued at $46 billion (Mims, 2015). As the growth of technology continues, it will make it that much easier to innovate and start companies. The growth of smartphones, Internet connectivity, and worldwide sharing will improve the way we conduct business and communicate on a global scale.

References

Bleeker, E. (2014, January 19). The next billion lives technology will change.
Retrieved February 5, 2015, from http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/01/19/next-billion-lives-technology-will-change/4639515/

Kessler, A. (2014, May 12). The Cheap-Smartphone Revolution. Retrieved February 5, 2015, from http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB1000142405270230410150457954639 3363686978

Mims, C. (2015, February 1). In Smartphone Market, It's Luxury or Rock Bottom. Retrieved February 6, 2015, from http://www.wsj.com/articles/in-smartphone-market-its-luxury-or- rock-bottom-1422842032…...

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