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Infosys & the flat world - offshore job huntingThere was a lot of feedback regarding my article and description on Infosys. Many were surprised that a multi-billion-$ company could still hold on to a "conscience", as part of its fundamental ethos. The fact that the Chairman and CEO still took annual salaries of only $ 75,000 prompted some humor, "Hey, so why don't we hire offshore CEOs?" Considering that the average US CEO compensation is approximately 500 times the average employee, this is wry humor indeed.
The other surprise was that a $ 3B software company has as many as 69,000 employees; this makes the ratio of revenue-per-employee about $43,000, low by American and European standards for a software company. But, of course, that's the clear global benefit. This is what prompts top consultants like Boston Consulting Group to advise that going offshore is not only desirable, but a strategic imperative.
Here's another interesting twist. A recent Duke University report points out that foreign-born immigrants helped start one of every four US technology start-ups over the past decade. Together, those companies employed 450,000 people and generated $52 billion in sales in 2005. But many foreign graduates are now more interested in returning to their home country, instead of staying. And further, it turns out that US-born graduates, as well as foreign nationals, are now looking for careers abroad, instead of just the usual American hot-spots like Silicon Valley. Many major business school students say they are actively considering international opportunities.
This sounds like a contradiction - that the US continues to try to try to woo the best and the brightest from overseas, even as homegrown emerging stars look outside. Because competition has truly become global, this kind of interchange makes sense. The good side is that many Americans will eventually return home with global experience, which will help build stronger companies here in America.
If you prefer to listen to commentary, rather than read, you might wish to download the podcast of my discussion with Automation World editor Gary Mintchell about my recent visit to Infosys (weblink below). After reading my article and listening to this podcast, a lot of people are asking me about opportunities in India. My response: Lots of good opportunities for visiting Americans who'd like the global experience - go cruise the web.
Mid-East directly enriched by higher oil pricesAfter reading our coverage of Frank Denton's white-paper "Nexus - Oil & Al Quaeda" many people strongly agreed that there was a clear connections between oil & terrorism. But this also stimulated great discomfort about this apparent "blind spot" that is seemingly ignored by those in government.
Indeed, just this week Saudi King Abdullah launched a harsh attack, denouncing the American military presence in Iraq as an "illegitimate foreign occupation". This was the same "friend" that our President held hands with to show close, personal friendship during a visit last year. But, what did the attack do to the Saudi credibility with the US? There was no comment from the administration - perhaps they thought that if it was ignored it would be forgotten.
Now, here's an interesting twist, pointed out by Frank Denton: Saudi Arabia and Iran, two of the largest oil producers, benefit VERY directly from any Mid-East problem. Calculating with crude-oil spot prices, the kidnapping of 15 British sailors earned Iran about $130M ADDITIONAL income, while the US incurred close to $ 0.5B MORE in import costs. In just over a week, European Union costs went up by about $ 0.75B, while Saudi exports jumped by about $ 0.5B. And the crisis has not yet been settled.
While the US and the world keeps guzzling oil, Mid-East governments can continue to manipulate the market in their favor, and keep defying international conventions. While the media continues to focus on daily politics, who in the current administration is tracking these results? And what is anyone doing?
Solving the energy crisisClearly, the US, Europe and the developed and developing world needs to solve the ongoing energy crisis before it escalates out of control.
We have often pointed out that nuclear fuel is the ONLY truly energy-efficient energy source. The problems of creating clean nuclear energy are far less than those of oil and any other conventional fuels. And yet we limp along, with the environmental lobby continuing to claim that nuclear waste is an insurmountable problem.
The French get 90% of their electricity and 50% of their total energy from nuclear plants. The Chinese plan to build at least 40 nuclear plants. Someone suggested that if the US resolved with conviction to emulate the French, the price of oil would drop back to $20 within weeks. So, asks George Gilder, why not issue bonds to fund a massive national campaign to build more nuclear energy resources?
American energy independence has several avenues to grow. There's plenty more oil on our continental shelves. And clearly we can drill cleanly in Alaska. And the Alberta tar sands and oil shale are virtually unlimited. Natural gas and Coal are plentiful. All these sources are real and available.
The postliterate futureThe history of civilization is a history of communication. The rise of literacy (over purely verbal communications) was transformational for humans, not only for how they communicated, but also how thinking was stimulated and how ideas were preserved and passed on.
Literate people find it difficult to imagine the purely oral cultures that preceded modern societies. And, it's uncomfortable for many to recognize the "post literate" culture that is rapidly evolving in the Internet age.
In the US most newspapers are reporting accelerating declines, and the same is true of all developing countries. Do you read newspapers? I don't anymore - I get my news from on a variety of sources on the Internet, including text, video and audio.
From time to time my local newspaper is dumped on my doorstep, to entice me to start reading it again. I've tried now and then, but I always give up fairly quickly - it seems like too much of a chore to dig out the news that interests me from the cluttered advertising. And it's too easy to retrieve what I'm looking for with a few clicks on my computer.
Now here's another thing about reading. When I "read" the news on the Internet, I usually scan the headlines and read more of what I want to read with a click. But that's still reading. What's increasingly evident recently is the video story - something I can view directly, without having to having it interpreted for me by a biased writer. I can know more about Barack Obama or Hilary Clinton by viewing their speeches, than by reading about them.
You know the old saying, "A picture is worth 1,000 words". Today the visual culture is taking over - TV, DVDs and videos are rapidly replacing books and magazines. As a consequence, literacy, verbal and communication skills are declining fairly rapidly. After decades of growth in the number of books published, a decline of about 10% was reported in 2006, from 2005. Between 1982 and 2002, literary reading declined by about 10% in virtually all segments of the US population. And more telling, the rate of decline for those aged 18-24 was 55% more than for the total.
In the age of electronic media people spend 80% of their non working/sleeping time watching TV. Children growing up in this electronic age seem capable of watching television, listening to music and studying, all at the same time. It's the age of multi-tasking. TV shows, YouTube clips, animations, and other video applications already account for more than 60% of Internet traffic; some think that in 2 years it will be 98%.
Electronic media is a sensory media - it deals with images that do not have to be understood. It engulfs the viewer with several senses. It is non-linear - TV stories often jump from one situation to another, allowing the viewer to participate in several sub-stories at the same time. Books do that - but not with the same easy comprehension.
Video games are growing fast, and taking up the time that TV used to in the past. TV and movies are passive - by contrast, video games demand involvement and skill development. Americans now spend more money on video games than movies.
In the post-literate society the written word will not disappear. It will simply becme part of a changing mix of verbal versus visual, passive viewing versus active involvement.
The strategic Happiness planAccording to a recent business survey, less than 50% of Americans are satisfied with their jobs, more than at any time in the past 20 years. The trend is strongest among those under 25, with 61% being relatively unhappy. Less than 45% of workers in the 45 to 54 age bracket are satisfied. Older people seem to like their jobs more. Overall, dissatisfaction has spread among all American workers, regardless of age, income or place.
People living in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania are the most disgruntled (less than 41% satisfied) while people living in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico were most likely to be happy - 56% said they were satisfied.
The thing that bugged most workers the most about their jobs were bonus plans and promotion policies. Workload and potential for growth were also rated poorly. Most people polled found their work and co-workers interesting.
Forget salary, location, prospects - Happiness is the new weapon in the drive to recruit the best and brightest new workers. A recent happiness survey found the most important factor is having friendly, supportive colleagues. A competitive salary was No. 10 on the list.
Employee happiness has a big impact on company performance. It influences work performance, employee retention and absenteeism. Happiness is inseparable from the real business of any organization and should be considered a key business goal.
Implementation and development of a strategic plan associated with Happiness is not just the responsibility of the HR Department, but of the CEO and top management team. A strategic happiness plan should include policies and procedures that allow employees to speak their minds openly, with their questions and doubts responded to quickly and effectively.
eFeedbackMerle Borg [email@example.com] is concerned about political lobbying and limitless financial contributions:
"I remain convinced, however, that the biggest problem America faces is skewed legislation enacted due to limitless and privately funded election campaigns. Instead of looking after our interests, most of our legislators' time is necessarily spent raising re-election funds. Bills concerning insurance or medicine or energy are written by insurance or drug or oil companies; with political contributions, they buy the votes needed to pass legislation.
"If a baseball runner, sliding into home plate, were to get up and stuff money in the umpire's pocket before he made his call, we would consider it unsportsmanlike and harmful to the game. If a trial lawyer were to hand an envelope of money to a judge before he rendered his verdict, we would consider it illegal, even criminal. But, if a company or organization needing favorable legislation contributes to a political campaign, we Americans think it's acceptable. It is hard to imagine how this country will long remain strong and viable with such a system."
"Our nation, both public and private, has taken on an institutionalized structure of perma-debt. We are committed to more than $70 trillion in expenses that we have no production to cover. In my opinion, this is the clearest sign of our 'difficult engagement' with morality.
"The big game in town uses this structure to essentially enslave the populace. Malinvestment is rampant and, come to think of it, probably responsible for a rather large amount of our energy use."
"I have spent all of my career (42 years thus far) in the Pulp and Paper industry on both sides of the fence - end-user and supplier - in an industry which is by nature mostly rural. Finding future workers is a huge problem, for the very reasons you suggest. Here is the link to an article I recently wrote on the subject:
"My concern is where is the leadership for this critical issue? There has to be a concern at the highest levels of both federal and state government for this problem. But sadly, I have yet to see any widely recognized official take this issue to heart. It seems that manufacturing sustainability is not on the agenda."
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