The flat-world platform is the product of a convergence of the personal computer (which allowed every individual suddenly to become the author of his or her own content in digital form) with fiber-optic cable (which suddenly allowed all those individuals to access more and more digital content around the world for next to nothing) with the rise of work flow software (which enabled individuals all over the world to collaborate on that same digital content from anywhere, regardless of the distances between them).
– Thomas L. Friedman (Author of the book “The world is flat” that kicked started the discussion in the year 2005)
The flat-world is a world where all involved have increasingly equal access to:
- The market – with more trade barriers coming down creating larger market
- The Information – with rapid adoption of mobility and social media people are sharing all kinds of information in public space indicating gaps that are opportunities
- Technology – Cloud and powerful start-up eco systems making this affordable to organizations with limited budget
This is leading to creation of a level playing field to all.
Flat-world is self-feeding in nature i.e. more of the world gets flat leading to more people to participate. These new joiners participate and contribute by pioneering some breakthrough creating a platform for more to join!
Faster cheaper telecommunication networks flattened the world for low cost location based IT service providers. Thus enabling them to compete for and deliver large outsourcing contracts of large global corporations. This lead to evolution of offshore delivery model. The same model is being used by small software companies that provide niche services such as product prototype design. Startups based in the high cost locations are taking help of these niche service providers based in low cost locations to stretch their dollar a bit more!
In the recent past the effect of flat-world is moving rapidly to create three streams:
- Business – this was probably the first one that got created causing competition or opportunities for corporations from different corners of the world. In the recent past new breed of competition in few areas have emerged challenging the market leaders. Good example is the new age GPS enabled Taxi services that are very asset light allowing them to invest heavily into business technologies to enhance customer experience like never before.
- Peer-to-Peer – thanks mostly to the app economy created almost single handedly by Apple people are sharing assets they own like never before. From renting the spare room for a night or few via Airbnb to renting a car using flyte. The opportunities are simply unlimited. Interestingly this economy is slowly eating into the traditional businesses that provided those services. Long spells of economic uncertainty spurring the adoption.
- Intracompany– the economic slowdown is putting corporations under strain like almost never before. This is forcing segments of corporates like subsidiaries in some cases even departments to explore all possible options to stay relevant to business. They are now busy exploring new technology options (sometimes independently) and the wave of new startups with niche products/services are encouraging the move further.
As we all know BT (Business Technology) is the primary driver of the world getting flat and it is rapid evolution of BT that continues to flatten the world. Just as BT has flattened the world it is also providing us to options to leverage the opportunities – the effect of the flat-world is two-way.
Also these changes are not optional or under anyone’s control – these have been set in motion by series of interconnected events and they are changing almost everything in its path.
The question is how many of us are prepared to protect ourselves or leverage this great ever increasing opportunity?