New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, a mustachioed humanoid robot with a limited vocabulary, was programmed by his creators to do whatever it takes to get his simple, cartoonish message across, even if that means repeating that message over and over and over without end in the nation's premier news outlet until all of us bow down and accept it, just to get him to stop saying it.
What is Thomas Friedmanbot saying in his widely read and closely studied newspaper column today?
What do I mean by the Great Inflection? I mean something very big happened in the last decade. The world went from connected to hyperconnected in a way that is impacting every job, industry and school, but was largely disguised by post-9/11 and the Great Recession. In 2004, I wrote a book, called "The World Is Flat," about how the world was getting digitally connected so more people could compete, connect and collaborate from anywhere. When I wrote that book, Facebook, Twitter, cloud computing, LinkedIn, 4G wireless, ultra-high-speed bandwidth, big data, Skype, system-on-a-chip (SOC) circuits, iPhones, iPods, iPads and cellphone apps didn't exist, or were in their infancy.
Hmm. January 8, 2004:
Trust is built into every aspect, every building and every interaction in our increasingly hyperconnected world. We trust that when we board a plane, the person next to us isn't going to blow up his shoes.
And as the world has become hyper-connected, it became obvious to every Arab citizen just how far behind they were - not only to the West, but to China, India and parts of sub-Saharan Africa.
Well, sir, while we were focused on the U.S. recession, we went from a connected world to a "hyperconnected world." It has connected Boston, Beijing and now Baotou in inner Mongolia. This deeper penetration of connectivity is built on smarter cellphones, wireless bandwidth and social networks. This new platform for connectivity, being so cheap and mobile, is bringing another two billion people into the conversation from more and more remote areas.
Can he or she help my company adapt by not only doing the job today but also reinventing the job for tomorrow? And can he or she adapt with all the change, so my company can adapt and export more into the fastest-growing global markets? In today's hyperconnected world, more and more companies cannot and will not hire people who don't fulfill those criteria.
Surely, the hyperconnecting of the world, the intensification of globalization and outsourcing, the challenges of energy and climate and the growing automation of the work space that is rapidly increasing productivity with fewer workers all would have figured prominently.
Why now? It starts with the fact that globalization and the information technology revolution have gone to a whole new level. Thanks to cloud computing, robotics, 3G wireless connectivity, Skype, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, the iPad, and cheap Internet-enabled smartphones, the world has gone from connected to hyper-connected.
But it is not the only reason. "The Great Recession" is also coinciding with - and driving - "The Great Inflection."
In the last decade, we have gone from a connected world (thanks to the end of the cold war, globalization and the Internet) to a hyperconnected world (thanks to those same forces expanding even faster). And it matters.
I was on Wall Street two weeks ago, and I've been in Silicon Valley this past week. What a contrast! While Wall Street is being rattled by a social revolution, Silicon Valley is being by transformed by another technology revolution - one that is taking the world from connected to hyperconnected and individuals from empowered to superempowered.
"We're bringing the most sophisticated technology to the most deprived," said Nilekani. "The hyperconnected world is giving us a chance to change India faster, at a larger scale, than ever before."
They did it by taking full advantage of today's hyperconnected world: pulling commodity parts mainly from China and South Korea, using open-source software and collaboration tools and employing the design/manufacturing/assembly abilities of two companies in the West - DataWind and Conexant Systems - and Quad in India.
Yes, it's true that in the hyperconnected world, in the age of Facebook and Twitter, the people are more empowered and a lot more innovation and ideas will come from the bottom up, not just the top down. That's a good thing - in theory.
The first is responding to the challenges and opportunities of an era in which globalization and the information technology revolution have dramatically intensified, creating a hyperconnected world.
At the same time, in a knowledge economy, getting a higher-education degree is more vital than ever. And thanks to the spread of high-speed wireless technology, high-speed Internet, smartphones, Facebook, the cloud and tablet computers, the world has gone from connected to hyperconnected in just seven years.
One question historians will puzzle over is why both great geopolitical systems fractured at once? The answer, I believe, is the intensifying merger of globalization and the information technology revolution, which made the world dramatically flatter in the last five years, as we went from connected to hyperconnected. In the Arab world, this hyper-connectivity simultaneously left youths better able to see how far behind they were - with all the anxiety that induced - and enabled them to communicate and collaborate to do something about it, cracking open their ossified states.
This is the company of the future. Forget about "outsourcing." In today's hyperconnected world, there is no "in" and no "out." There's only "good, better and best," and if you don't assemble the best team you can from everywhere, your competitor will.
We get it.