What's Up Doc? Globalization.
Talk of globalization is everywhere, even at the doctor's office—or mine, at least. A simple visit to the doctor last night turned into a discussion about offshoring. The doc had heard about the new book by New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman, called "The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century" (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). He was quite affected by the reports he had heard about it, and he is not alone.
Despite the fact that almost every industry is individually trying to harness the impact that offshoring will have in the long run, and that offshoring has been a major commercial issue for some time, it seems Mr. Friedman has stricken a chord. He suggests that more pressing than the old saying for children "Finish your dinner—there are children in other countries who are starving" the issue at hand for American children is instead, he writes, "… finish your homework. People in China and India are starving for your jobs."
Doc noted that one of the most reputable hospitals in the United States (among others) sends its X-rays overseas to be read. I asked why and wasn't surprised by his answer: "It's cheaper."
As suggested in the title of Friedman's new book, the landscape is changing. Every day, the line defining our national borders seems to be wearing away.
Considering the Printing Industries of America's recent survey that found almost one of every three respondents (printers) had lost a print project to a foreign competitor in the first nine months of 2004, the threat is certainly real.
Still, not all books are suitable to be printed overseas (yet). But American manufacturers are being put to the test more and more. Offshore manufacturers have picked up the scent of the American publisher, and they are not being bashful about trying to win their business. Foreign manufacturers seem to be establishing U.S. field offices by the dozen to help bridge the oceanic (and sometimes language) gap. Will more and more American manufacturers set up foreign operations as well?