• Moore’s Law: a global economy creates its own computer demand

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    Reylito A.H. Elbo

    Reylito A.H. Elbo

    AN old nun was assigned to embark on a mission among Apache Indians. She was so excited that she drove past the last gas station without noticing that she needed gas until she ran out of it about a mile down the road. Without any choice, she had to walk back to the station. The attendant told her that he would like to help her, but he had no container to hold the gas.

    Sympathetic to her plight, the attendant agreed to search through an old shed at the back of the gas station for something that might suffice. The only container that would hold fuel was an old bedpan. The grateful nun told him that the bedpan would work just fine. She carried the gasoline back to her car, taking care not to drop an ounce of fuel.

    When she got to her car, she carefully poured the contents of the bedpan into the tank. A truck driver pulled alongside the car as the nun was emptying the container into the tank. He rolled down his window and yelled to her: “I wish I had your faith, Sister!”

    Faith is everything, even to business organizations that swear by the advantages of globalization. In today’s interdependent global economy, a typical Filipino office worker rides in a dilapidated jeepney whose engine motor was designed by the Japanese and assembled in Thailand using some components made in the Philippines, many of which are fabricated out of Korean steel and Malaysian rubber.

    The driver may have filled his jeepney with diesel fuel at a Shell station owned by parent company Royal Dutch. Such fuel could have been sourced from an oil well pumped off the coast of Africa by a French company that transported it to the United States in a ship owned by a Greek shipping line.

    Elsewhere in Manila, the Filipino employee enjoys his morning break, with milk from Australia in his coffee and pandesal (breakfast bread) made from Turkish flour. And while doing that, he can be seen tinkering with his mobile phone designed in California but assembled in China using chips designed by Indian engineers. As he enjoyed his 15-minute break, the Filipino who happens to be a call center agent for clients in Germany was enjoying a popular hip-hop English song by a group of African-Americans.

    This is our wonderful world. It is a world where the volume of goods and services are crossing national borders at a much faster rate than it did 50 years ago, according to Charles Hill of the University of Washington. He said we live in “a world in which products are made from inputs that comes from all over the world.”

    But what makes globalization move faster? The obvious answer is technology. Since the end of World War II, technological change through advances in communication, information processing, and transportation have made globalization a concrete and tangible reality. On top of our list here is the dynamic emergence of the Internet and the World Wide Web.

    And what makes technology move faster? The best explanation can be found in Moore’s Law. It is a prediction that the power of microprocessor technology will double and its production cost will fall by half every 18 months. This is best illustrated by the cost of overseas telephone calls. Even without the figures, you can readily understand how technology is making it easy for the buyers and sellers to find each other, regardless of their size and location.

    The big thing today is globalization and computing. And to help us understand its challenges, we can come up with the following Elbonomics:

    First, all computers wait at the same speed as long as everyone’s patience.

    Second, everything that works in a microprocessor is obsolete.

    Third, a backup is an easy and simple operation that is not done on time.

    Fourth, a powerful computer is destroyed if organized into a committee.

    Fifth, technical support means you get to talk to someone who can’t help you.

    Sixth, a sophisticated hardware can’t be used with obsolete software.

    Seventh, the instruction manual is an important file that no one reads.

    Eight, a printout is an accurate hard copy of a file you don’t need.

    Ninth, the best price comes up after you’ve purchased new hardware.

    Tenth, computers are useless when they provide the answers, and not the questions.

    Computers are imperative for globalization. And it’s the same thing that could happen with divorce as told by Arnold Schwarzenegger: “When a wife plans to divorce her husband, she can only do it as soon as she can find a better way of doing it without making him happy.”

    Rey Elbo is a business consultant specializing in human resources and total quality management as a fused interest. Send feedback to elbonomics@gmail.com or follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter for his random management thoughts.

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