Language, Literacy and Procuring

By Larry Dignan  |  Posted 2003-09-05 Print this article Print

Global Talent"> Welcome to the global job market where productivity and efficiency will reign. "The idea of global skills procurement is the next biggest thing," says Forrester analyst Stephanie Moore. "There are more ways to transfer knowledge than ever before."

If all the elements line up, computer languages may become the bridge connecting countries. Hunter says there would be a large cadre of technology resources available in other countries.

Hunter also envisions thumb-sized computers thatll translate any foreign language. "What would that do for the employability of the millions of people now who cant read?" asks Hunter. "Millions of people are effectively shut out of employment not because theyre stupid but because theyre illiterate. That alone would dramatically change human productivity."

Why is this global supply chain of everything a candidate for next-big-thing status? The seeds are already being planted by businesses, which are sprinting to procure global talent.

"Were willing to find rich veins of brains wherever they are, and that allows me to compete at a lower cost," says Ray Bingham, CEO of Cadence Design Systems.

For this uber-supply chain to fall into place, the Internet will have to be a rock-solid information grid. Beyond that, technology crafters will have to develop simpler ways to automate business processes, so bolting together different companies applications, languages and ways of doing things are routine. And workers, from Gdansk to Mazatlan, will have to learn new programming and management skills. U.S. programmers may even have to learn foreign languages, for collaborative purposes.

A little more computing horsepower would also help. Gartner is projecting computers running at 40 billion cycles a second (gigahertz) as the norm in 2008. Two to three years later, 96 GHz desktops will be a reality. With horsepower like that, anything is possible.

But all the computing power in the world may not be able to handle the not-so-small issue of standardizing humans and how they do their jobs. Or how this global supply network gets fixed.

"Global provisioning is a great story, but the issue is knowledge transfer," Moore says. "Its great to switch over to Belarus if something goes wrong in India, but will the workers have the same knowledge and do things the same way? Its theoretically possible, but youll have to be careful when dealing with labor—especially if in a reverse auction format. There are good programmers and bad ones, and you may have no idea what youre getting."

Business Editor
Larry formerly served as the East Coast news editor and Finance Editor at CNET Prior to that, he was editor of Ziff Davis Inter@ctive Investor, which was, according to Barron's, a Top-10 financial site in the late 1990s. Larry has covered the technology and financial services industry since 1995, publishing articles in, Inter@ctive Week, The New York Times, and Financial Planning magazine. He's a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism.

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