Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Module 5

I can’t help but start out by criticizing Friedman.  He was incredibly unclear on what the first convergence was.  I finally gathered what he was trying to get across, but he never specifically stated what it was.  He just gave a series of examples and expected the reader to make the connection.  But I digress.  Triple convergence is, as the name implies, the combination of three convergences.  From what I gathered, the first convergence was that all of these new technologies, together, had to become widespread to take root.  I really liked the simple example he gave of pencils and paper.  As you get pencils, you need more paper.  As these products become more and more demanded, the quality improves as new businesses enter into the market.  As quality improves, productivity improves. 
Friedman calls the second convergence horizontalization.  By this, he is referring to the birth of a new set of business practices and skills that would help us use the new technology to become productive.  I love that Freidman points out that new technology alone doesn’t boost productivity.  It has to be used in business in order to be effective.  I had never thought about the aspect that Friedman brings up: that new technologies are around long before they are implemented because it takes time for us to learn how to use them.  I think that there is a lot of validity to this point.  I am an accounting major, and I have learned a fair share about the history of accounting.  Even as computers became more and more widespread in business, accounting was still largely done on paper.  It wasn’t until programs like Excel were created that accounting shifted to being done almost entirely on computers. 
However, although there is truth to Friedman’s point that it takes a while for us to learn how to use technology, I disagree with the reason why.  According to Friedman, it takes managers and innovators getting comfortable with the new technology so that they can learn how to implement it, but that makes it sound like new technology is really difficult to learn, understand, and innovate with, which simply isn’t true.  I think a more relevant point is that a lot of technology is useless, and intelligent people in important business positions confront new technologies with a healthy dose of skepticism, which is a good thing.  If CEOs and other business decision-makers instantly implemented any new technology that was developed, they would run their companies into the ground, because a lot of new technologies are either fads or quickly obsolete.  This reminds me of a guy who worked for my uncle.  My uncle is the CEO of a manufacturing company in Salt Lake City, and his vice president of operations was a guy who was obsessed with implementing the latest technologies into the business.  He was a brilliant VP, but spent huge amounts of the company’s money on these cutting-edge technologies, which began to paralyze the company financially, and it ended up costing him his job. 
            The third convergence is the new playing field created by billions of people being able to compete.  This makes sense as we are all becoming interconnected. This ‘triple convergence’ is important because it is shaping the world into a world of unbelievable technologies and limitless possibilities.
            In the story about Indiana and India, I would say that both parties are exploiting each other.  India is exploiting the United States by taking work from it because there isn’t enough work in India, and Indiana is exploiting India by using their brilliant minds at cheap rates.  I don’t really have an opinion about this topic because both sides can make a valid argument.
            Intellectual property is when someone invents something based upon an idea they had, and the idea that they have rights to it.  It is important because the protection of intellectual property is essential for innovation and continued technology advancement.  However, it is difficult to enforce intellectual property rights worldwide. 
            This reading was very interesting.  Every time I read the required material for the module, I am awed at how much the world is ‘flattening.’  I can only imagine what the world will become in my lifetime.

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