Chapter 1: Quad-play and the Curse of Interesting Times

Cisco Press

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We remembered Tom Friedman defining globalization 3.0 as a phenomenon driven by power being in the hands of individuals to create and collaborate, as opposed to globalization 1.0 where the power was mainly concentrated in the hands of nations, and globalization 2.0 where multinational corporations held sway[5]. The ability of the individual to participate was built on what he likes to call a ‘platform’ that enables a new age of creativity and a new age of connectivity. His thesis argues that one of the more significant distinctions of globalization 3.0 is that it has allowed talent from developed and developing nations, to compete on a level playing field with little relevance to nationality, color, geographical boundaries, or heritage[6].

Offshoring, outsourcing, productivity improvements, the personal computer, network capacity, workflow software, communities, and mobility appliances, according to Friedman, have all contributed to the creation of globalization 3.0. As we thought through it further, we realized that the ‘platform’ that Friedman kept referring to was the vast information superhighway that enables tremendous value for organizations all around the world and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. Cisco Systems announced plans in December 2006 to invest US $1.2 billion in India, over a three year period, for offshore operations, including $750 million for research and development.

So we went back to the text for a closer look and there it was—companies like Cisco, Microsoft, Sun, HP, Oracle and many others had indeed contributed in creating the “platform” to enable this global interdependence. The cycle of increased data, mobility, voice and video applications has indeed stoked greater economic interdependence across continents and that now further drives the need to remain connected. Our collective economic well being now remains tied to countries we may never visit, within cultures or languages we struggle to understand and with companies whose names we may find hard to pronounce—thanks to globalization 3.0.

We always understood that stock gyrations, speculative oil futures, and commodity price ups and downs will remain a constant in international markets. But did we anticipate two years ago that energy consumption in emerging countries would spur ethanol demand in the US to where the price of a bushel of corn will double?[7] From gas prices to both manufacturing and IT jobs to the kitchen table, the effects of globalization 3.0 permeate. With an increased reliance on international stocks for gains, international commodities for consumption, and international team mates for projects; investors, consumers and workers will seek greater visibility, understanding, and insight into other regions. The need to know, with granularity and texture, more about where and how our collective economic futures are handled, will keep us tuned in for greater collaboration within our global village. And that need to know more about others, which we all share, partly explains why we chose to write about IP video, the most efficient medium of our time—with the ability to transfer the greatest amount of information in the least amount of time—that now stands democratized and enriched to empower us.

Consumerization: When Work Emulates Fun and Games

The drive for innovation in business process has it roots in workflow and workforce optimization. Organizations understand the tools available and responded in an opportunistic way to create a level playing field for collaboration and help with cost reduction and profit gains.

The collaboration in today’s world using voice, video, and web tools over expanding mobile platforms is being driven increasingly by the users. Since tools are plentiful and affordable, users are able to integrate them into their daily repertoire with increasing ease and confidence. And with a generation that grew up on these technologies about to hit the workplace, the users are not about to let up anytime soon.

Users are now driving another trend emerging at work, which is often referred to as ‘consumerization’ of the enterprise. The trend refers to rogue applications finding their way into the workplace and to bolster productivity ‘sub-radar’ i.e. without explicit knowledge or permission from the information technology department(IT). Eventually these rogue applications become identified and get integrated into the work life as innovation.

But unlike the model of IT recommended solutions being adopted by employees, as with typical enterprise software and applications, consumerization suggests an employee recommended solution being adopted by the IT organization. Examples might be a tendency on part of employees to use Google talk or Skype before the IT department recognizes the need for enabling softphones on employee desktops. Another example might be the use of AOL or Yahoo instant messaging by a few engineers that might clue in the organization to deploy a corporate instant messaging tool.

The tools that are not necessarily as much a part of the workflow but more a part of workforce behavior have begun to influence productivity. For decisions about productivity applications, instead of looking to innovative ideas from IT vendors, IT organizations only need to check with their knowledge workers on what mash-ups, social networking, or online game tools they are using, to come up with the next enterprise or business innovation.

Web 2.0 Goes Mainstream

With mobility technologies so far along among consumers in Europe and Asia, we daresay that innovation may well find its way into the palms of an average Asian teenager before it reaches the desk of a Fortune 500 CEO. Even the advent of Apple iPhone, so hailed as a breakthrough in the US consumer markets in offering next generation of mobility applications, faces tough competition in Asia and Europe where many of the capabilities offered by the Apple iPhone have long existed on mobile phones, thanks to a more sustained investment and development of advanced 3G networks[8].

In its December 18, 2006, edition, while reporting on Best of 2006 business ideas, BusinessWeek wrote the following: “Maybe it was seeing how easily their kids amassed hundreds of “friends” on MySpace. Or watching the blogs go all viral on bad news about their companies. Whatever the reason, managers discovered social-networking tools en masse this year.[9]” Notice how the text attributes consumers influencing innovation in the workplace—not IT.

Viral Video: The Edward R. Murrow of Our Times?

Let’s use the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in September 2005 as a case in point. The images were in sharp contrast. On the one hand the President of the United States praised his political appointee Commissioner Michael Brown, the then Head of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), with his famous words, “you’re doing one heckuva job, Brownie.” While on the other hand the American public witnessed video clip after video clip on TV and the Internet of people suffering the effects of the hurricane in New Orleans, with no help from the government or FEMA in sight. The video images fueled a blogging trail, and news-sites and reporters began to pick up on the national sentiment to build a chorus of protest against government apathy. The President’s sound byte, commending Michael Brown’s performance, in the midst of a fiasco personified that apathy.

The juxtaposition of those video clips and sound bytes, and the subsequent noise around the event, formed a contrast that dealt a crucial blow to the US administration’s credibility. Not only did it cost the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA tremendous embarrassment, and Commissioner Brown his job, it might have even been responsible for the President’s party losing control of the US Congress during 2006 midterm elections.

With YouTube and Google video opening the doors for anyone to place favorable or unflattering video evidence about an entity, organization, product or business in plain sight of the public, the opportunities or risks are that much greater. IP video available to users today is a leveler, where those with big budgets for sophisticated productions or those on a shoe string budget and can only afford home-made movies, can compete head-to-head on the strength of their substance. If a popular political party of the most powerful head of the state in the world is not immune from its effects, all others should look out. Actions or statements expressed in an obscure location, captured through the innocuous lens of an unassuming cell phone then shared virally over the web, can hold the speaker pay a price elsewhere in the world.

We all took notice when YouTube was purchased for $1.6 billion by Google. We were also intrigued by the developments when Viacom sued YouTube for $1.0 billion for copyright infringement. And then other organizations launched their own video portals to stake a claim in the emerging market for Internet video. The democratization of video has caught the fancy of many bloggers, social networkers, and online enthusiasts. Already, YouTube like services are finding their way within business organizations that are setting policies on how and what to post from external sites.

And with the added ability to push these videos to mobile phones, video players, and video iPods on the fly for viewers, business communications are enabled with a vista like never seen before.

Eventually it boils down to the compelling nature of IP video, whether on our TV sets, desktop, or mobile phones that makes it more potent as a communications vehicle. Of all the communication technologies, video enables persuasion, negotiation, and exposition in a virtual setting that few other technologies can match. To borrow the words of an illustrious broadcast journalist, Edward R. Murrow, we know that video “can teach, it can illuminate, and yes it can inspire[10].”


[1] Lazear, Edward P. "Productivity and Wages." Council of Economic Advisors, US Government. National Association of Business Economics. Washington D.C. 12 Sep 2006.

[2] Crockett, Roger. The 21st Century Meeting. BusinessWeek. 26 Feb, 2007: 72-79.

[3] Dickler, Jessica. “Technical Glitches Plague the Wall Street.” CNN Money Feb 27, 2007.

[4] Cramer, James. The Street.com TV. http://www.thestreet.com. 27 Feb, 2007.

[5] Friedman, Thomas. “The World is Flat.” New York 2006

[6] ibid

[7] Steil, Mark. Farmers to Plant More Corn to Meet Ethanol Demand. Minnesota Public Radio. St. Paul, 30 March, 2007.

[8] Rowley, Ian. “Coolest Mobile Phones in the World.” BusinessWeek. 12 December 2006.

[9] Conline, Michelle. Web 2.0 Goes Corporate. BusinessWeek. 18 Dec, 2006: 101.

[10] Murrow, Edward R. Keynote Speech to Radio-Television News Directors Association (RTNDA) Convention. 15 Oct, 1958.

Copyright © 2008 Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

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