Friday, August 12, 2005

The explosive potential of broadband

The Greenville Chamber held a meeting Friday to discuss "Economic Development Issues Related To Broadband Communications."

The conversation began around the infrastructure that was in place - the amount, kind, and speed of broadband access that we had in the region. We realized that we had a strong broadband infrastructure, probably more than was generally understood and definitely more than was promoted.

The conversation turned to how broadband was being used to outsource work to India. One participant related how his wife, a solo architect, sought out draftsmen online that could convert her concepts into plans, so she could focus on the higher value added activity of bringing her clients' ideas to life in exciting architectural designs.

A Google search found draftsmen she could work with in Easley, SC and Bangalore, India. She contacted the draftsmen in Easley, who said she could submit her drawings online and could get something back in about a week. The Indian firm had several degreed engineers and said that she could submit her concepts in the evening and have drawings in her email in the morning. The Easley draftsmen don’t realize that the world has changed and the competition is not down the street but around the world. And we never even got to cost. In Thomas Friedman’s new vernacular, the folks in Easley don’t realize that The World is Flat.

Then the conversations turned again to the fact that the world is flat – in both directions. Broadband has opened up India as a market for us as much as us a market for them. Bits flow as easily from us to them as from them to us.

We need to explore the opportunities of this. We are at the beginning of a period where new, powerful business models are being created that leverage the powerful new communications technologies - eBay, and Amazon, and Dell Computer. Someone in the chamber discussion talked about his translation business which he runs from Greenville serving customers around the world. We challenged ourselves to begin to think about the opportunities that broadband creates to do business in expanded markets around the world.

The most encouraging part of the meeting is that when I left a small group of people had already gathered and were already starting to talk about what the next steps should be. Take an inventory of the broadband assets we have. Work this into the promotional materials for Greenville. Organize a forum to discuss the opportunities that exist …

This is what I really love about Greenville.


Jay Floyd said...

In this “Flat New World”, how is consistency maintained through the entire process? While the woman was able to achieve a desirable quick-to-market translation of her designs, how will she achieve consistency through the entire process? As an architect, her goal is the satifaction of her client. The utilization of broadband should assist in the build process and in the administration of daily business tasks. Without full utilization of broadband’s capabilities, will her designs be built in various locations with consistency and will her clients receive customer service at a desired level?

It is important to utilize broadband technologies to their fullest potential, don’t sell your business short. A great example of broadband not being utilized to its fullest extent is deploying VoIP services instead of researching the cost effectiveness of IPC (IP Communications). IPC can provide in addition to voice (VoIP) both data and video services. Video conferencing with engineers in India is lot cheaper than flying half way around the world. Indeed, the Flat New World can be a wonderful and productive place.

Jay Floyd

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