The Global Paradigm-Shift In Tech
International Entrepreneurship is simply the process of an entrepreneur conduction cross border activity. Such were to include anything from exporting to opening an office in a foreign country. This internationalization of businesses has been growing worldwide, and particularly with the use of technology many companies have internationalized early in their business life cycle. Such companies have been referred to as “born globals” or event “international startups.”
A prime example of such a company would be Facebook, a social media and social networking service available in 140 different languages. Indeed, many may not even remember a time when Facebook did not exist with its instant messaging services and story sharing but the truth of the matter is that the company is only 13 years old. Having been available in the US since 2004 and worldwide since 2005, it’s easy to see that Zuckerberg wasted no time at all in expanding this tech giant.
What makes it more incredible is the fact that, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 50% of all new businesses survive 5 years or more, and about one-third survive 10-years or more. To have grown into such a global presence and much less survived the last 13 years is a truly remarkable feat, which many businesses in the past can’t properly state to have done. However, it is ironic that this term “born global” was coined in 1993 because, as Professor Coviello states, very few firms had the possibility of engaging on a global path. Global means global. International is not quite as broad in scope. If one were to look at multiple firms, from law to accounting to imports we see the use of the word international. The companies may have branches in primary locations in various countries with varying sizes, and jobs but are ultimately limited. Some businesses may even only exist in two other locations around the world but will still use the term international. This is the best illustration of the word international because it is in essence an adjective which concerns two or more nations. Global refers to the ‘whole’ world, it is universal and unbounded.
From this clarification it is easy to see why it was difficult for people in past to be truly global. There was no system in place, namely the Internet, that allowed them to reach multiple people around the world instantly. Travel even by plane could take anywhere from 2 hours to over a day of flying that wastes precious hours better used for work or even socializing. This shift is particularly interesting in a time when many countries are tightening their border controls as seen in countries like USA, UK, and Germany. On one hand, physical presence is difficult to attain due to regulatory controls of the amount of foreign companies allowed to operate in countries as well as the amount of foreign workers a company is allowed to take on.
On the other hand, virtual collaboration has little to no restrictions. This means that a founder can easily look for the best people with similar values to him/her and create the best team without the limitation of geography or government. In a sense, generating a global presence if its team members are located in various countries around the world. There are difficulties to this system, one of which is the need for a self-motivating team. Traditionally, a company would have a manager who would lead a team, overlooking its members work to make sure everything was running on schedule. Although some semblance of that style may occur from using certain sites like Trello, to keep track of priorities, and google hangout to carry out meetings between team members, it is hard to motivate members remotely.
In an interesting contrast, where past shifts towards technological modernization affected the world’s poorest negatively whether it was steam that lead to mechanization, electricity to mass production, or IT to automation, this fourth industrial revolution is being grasped by the poorest of countries instead, making them early adopters of technology.For example, Matternet are working on drone deliveries, currently facing the USA’s regulations to fly commercially by the Federal Aviation Administration. However, countries like Africa are embracing such technology with the Rwandan government announcing a new nationwide drone delivery. This is particularly helpful in sending emergency medical supplies to the country’s’ most remote regions.
In a situation where the benefit outweighs any worry over privacy, or in this instance interference with air traffic, implementation of such technology is adopted almost instantaneously. The more developed a country becomes the more freedom individuals have to worry about their personal benefits. Much like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the physiological needs of most poorer countries are not met, only enhanced by the rapid increase in temperature causing drought and the spread of disease through creatures like mosquitoes. Technological advancements much like the Oxford Nanopore’s pocket sized MinION was used in Guinea during the ebola epidemic to identify and track the disease.
If more advancements are embraced, it could lead to the satisfaction of both the physiological and safety needs that most 3rd world countries struggle to meet thus jump starting the economy. A similar boost occurred during the introduction of the mobile phone in Ecuador due to the mobile wallet acting as a substitute to bank accounts for those who lived far away from banks, allowing for a speedier payment process for ones’ bills. What could once take a day to complete could now be done in an instant. Simple implementations that many do not consider make a huge difference in countries who do not have the benefit of public transport, secure and safe water systems, and fast communication.
Even industries like education can go global because of technology, by using online lectures people who cannot afford a traditional education are able to attain information and learn from the best schools and universities without having to pay the exorbitant costs that usually follow higher education. Building new skills and learning at their own time opens up the job market for these individuals, similarly many markets will have an increased influx of skilled workers. Organizations like One Laptop Per Child aims to ensure Internet access for children, allowing kids to not fall short against their financially secure counterparts. The open concept that the Internet provides a truly global market for businesses, and individuals alike.
It should be clarified, at this point, that this fourth industrial era is not a cure all method. In any period of time, when development of technology is opening windows of opportunity, fantasies of a better world will follow. This optimism is great as it allows people to be creative and imaginative but there are limits as to what technology can achieve and the world is no stranger to it. For example, a parodic poem written in the 18th century predicted that technology would annihilate space and time. Blockchain, which is the newest technology craze will not make the world a drastically better place. It will help make information more secure, but there will likely be someone who creates a way to combat Blockchains security whether it is in the near or distant future. What technology development, and this global shift in tech does is increase efficiency in communication, delivery, and transference of data.
However, there are those who wish to establish a form of regulation over net neutrality, the right to communicate freely online, the internet’s guiding principle. Such decision will undoubtedly affect smaller businesses and individuals, likely to only benefit large businesses by basing one’s internet speed by how much you pay. But, companies are also aware of the huge disadvantage this will cause to the development of the economy due to startups, students and entrepreneurs being cut off from the information and communication they need to grow themselves and their business.
The likes of global companies like Google and Facebook would have never been created without this system and the continuance of large phone companies and lobbyist to strangle this global shift can be compared to giving someone enough rope to hang themselves on a noose. The tighter they try to pull regulation the more it will hurt their reputation. The global shift in tech can’t be stopped but it also shouldn’t as it will ring in a new age for every industry.