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Entries in Thomas Friedman (5)


Facebook is the Paris Hilton of Tech

Smart phones, tablets, TVs, app stores, Twitter, and Facebook (and the movie) sure seem to get the bulk of media attention.  HP now has over $114 billion in revenues, the largest part generated selling to the enterprise, but their consumer products get all of the coverage.  IBM has 400,000 employees and also generates nearly $100 billion in revenues – rarely ever mentioned – because it is focused on the enterprise.  Microsoft, well Microsoft just never gets mentioned.  See my post the other day on the Pew Study.  If Larry Ellison wasn’t pulling stunts with the Americas Cup or Mark Hurd, no one would ever cover Oracle in the media.

Real work is being done hardening networks against cyber terrorism, lowering total cost of computing, developing and enforcing enterprise standards, safeguarding large amounts of sensitive data, and developing industry specific solutions.  This work is done with rarely a mention in the press.  My explanation:  enterprise computing is complicated, hard to understand or explain, and most of all it is boring.  To Journalists, Facebook is Paris Hilton.  Write about either of them and your web site gets hits.  Write about lowering energy consumption in data centers and you might as well be covering anything having to do with sub Saharan Africa’s problems.

We really have not had big coverage of business tech issues since Y2K – over a decade ago.  Could it be that we are due for a surge in enterprise coverage?  It may make sense to think for a minute about events that could cause this to happen and how it might impact the technology industry.

Here are three things that could bring enterprise computing closer to the center of technology media coverage:

  1. A Big Security Event:  Let’s hope it never happens, but if a big section of the power grid goes down, or all of the credit cards become inoperable, or a cyber attack crashes the stock market, the media will start to pay attention.
  2. Follow the Jobs:  If big tech starts hiring again and makes a dent in the unemployment rate it will be a big story.  Unfortunately, this probably is a result of the changes we would like to see instead of the cause. 
  3. Someone Connects the Dots: Google and Facebook are largely considered consumer businesses.  They are however, big enterprise operations in their own right however.  The media could latch onto the fact that Google’s network of data centers, gigantic databases, and all of the infrastructure required to run its business is cool and worth paying attention to.

What would change and why should we care?

  1. The Money Follows the Media:  A lot has been written lately about how the VC business is changing.  The story is that the investment exits are not there and new tech start ups don’t need as much money to start.  It is true that someone building for the Apple App store does not need to raise much if any venture capital, and may never go public.  Venture capital is needed just as much now as ever before.  The VCs do seem to follow the media, so if the media goes enterprise, maybe the VCs will too.  Thomas Friedman would sure be happy if we started funding green tech instead of another Twitter clone.
  2. Exports Up:  Technology innovation is something we can do well and we can export.  Enterprise computing is harder to knock off than a movie or an iPhone. If we build more capacity in our big business computing services – we could export it.  Companies like IBM, HP, Microsoft, Oracle, and others are already doing this in a big way – so we know how to do it.  And the balance of trade needs attention.
  3. Do Our Part:  If this were to happen, all of us could be proud of our contribution to the worldwide economic recovery.  Instead of presenting a military face to the world, or fancy financial engineering – which deploys just as much of a scorched earth approach as the military, we could be helping companies and governments around the world increase their productivity.  And they would pay us for it!  Good for us and for them. 

I hope someone figures out how to make enterprise computing interesting enough to get some media attention.  Could do us all some good.


American Jobs

Robert Scoble has a good post this week about keeping jobs in America.  He is absolutely right.  

Every single person in our country should be thinking about the balance of trade.  Each month we send away 40 billion dollars of our money.  This means we buy $40B more in goods from other countries than they buy from us.  This is not sustainable, and we all need to be thinking about it.

The trick of course is to create products in our country that can compete while paying a wage that can support the lifestyle to which we have become accustomed.

Thomas Friedman has a good piece on China vs the US in Jobs associated with climate change.  Here is a good quote:

So while America’s Republicans turned “climate change” into a four-letter word — J-O-K-E — China’s Communists also turned it into a four-letter word — J-O-B-S.

One of these days our elected leaders should probably stop crabbing at each other and get down to work.


Immigration Numbers

To answer those that say immigration is at an all time high, here are the numbers.  The immigration numbers are from the Migration Policy Institute and the population numbers are from the US Census.  I am sure there are immigration numbers in the census, but I could not find them.  If anyone wants to point me to them I will remake the charts.

The short story is that annual immigration hit 1.285 million people in 1907 -- which at the time was 1.5% of the population, and then declined all of the way down to .02% of the population in 1933 and did not exceed the 1907 number until 1990 when we hit 1.535 million people.  By then the country had grown enough to make that only 0.62% of the population.  In 2002, the last year for which I found data, we settled in at about 1 million people per year or .37% of the population.




Importing The Desire to Win 

There is one common thread that runs through the three main problems with our public education system.  The three main problems are: the administrators, the teachers, and the students.  The common thread is the desire to win. If we could just change this one thing, we could actually reform our public education system and establish some momentum on the path back to worldwide competitiveness.

The enemy of the desire to win is entitlement.  Our students feel entitled to a good life without having to work for it, our teachers feel entitled to their jobs without performance measures, and our administrators...well they are so deep in their own goo that they have not thought about actually fixing education for over a decade.

We can do this the easy way or the hard way.  The easy way is to open the immigration floodgates and import the desire to win.  Sure the contra argument is that freeloaders would come in with the tide -- just to get our awesome healthcare.  But they will be a tiny minority.  The rest will be energetic, motivated, people with the desire to improve themselves and their position.  This is not an original thought and it worked for our country for its entire history -- save the last 50 years or so.  

Thomas Friedman's column today absolutely nails this point.  In it he cleverly lists the names of the finalists for the Intel Science Talent Search - which even the most ardent anti race profiler cannot help but admit hail from points east from here.  

These amazing people all share two traits -- they came to America to change their stars, and they have an insatiable desire to win.  If we could only get more of them.


Motivated People Win 

Thomas Friedman has a good column in today's NY Times  where he points out that our President needs to generate more jobs and he suggests a few ways to do it. I think he is right, we need more jobs, but I am not sure his suggested approach of using the highest office to create a million new ventures in a "Start-Up America" will work.

The winners in the new economy are going to be the people that are the most motivated. Motivated people try harder, find their way to education, find their way to capital, and overcome the many many hurdles any new business encounters. Right now the most motivated people are not in our country. So if we want to win as a country, we have to motivate the people that are already here, or let some new people in.