"So when are you moving to India?" It was 2006 and I was increasingly convinced that Cisco had to radically change the way we did business to be relevant in future. The question, our chairman and CEO, John Chambers posed to me was in response to our conversation on how we could be more relevant to our customers, partners and employees worldwide.
The idea of globalizing started hundreds of years ago as cities and countries began to trade with each other. The 1980s saw the second phase of globalization with the outsourcing of manufacturing. The third phase of globalization was the outsourcing of global R&D, beginning in the 1990s. We are now immersed in the fourth phase, what I like to call the globalization of the corporate brain, which is about co-creation and talent for companies.
The world is changing at a pace never seen before. We live in a world where 190,000 people are being urbanized every day, nine out of ten children under the age of 15 live in the emerging markets and half a billion users spend 700 billion minutes a month on Facebook. Across the world, populations are aging, shrinking and in most of the emerging markets are in a state of hyper growth.
What do the biggest economic, social and demographic shifts in history mean for countries, companies and communities? What does globalization mean for you?
Aging and shrinking populations will result in fewer workers, innovators, and consumers while the emerging markets in hyper growth will reinvent how business has been done. The middle class in China will reach half a billion in the next decade while India will contribute one global worker in four by 2020. This revolution in future consumerism and talent demands a transformational change in our approach to business models, ecosystems and the creation and delivery of products and solutions. We can no longer sell what we have; we must create what our customers need.
At Cisco we view globalization as enabling access to new talent, growth and innovation. The decentralization of talent is not the same as the decentralization of leadership. To effect true change, you must help change the existing culture of a company. Embrace globalization as a top priority for the company and select your best change agents to drive this change through common goals and cross functional collaboration.
What do you think the leader of the future will look like? I think she or he would have lived in at least two continents, speak more than three languages, have strong collaborative skills and a penchant for diversity. Are we ready for an increasingly globalized world? Asking ourselves this question is the beginning of the journey.