e-Talk Radio: Rubin, Howard, 12 September 2000

Rebroadcast 24 October 2000
Traditional measures of a nation's strength, such as GDP and GNP, are inadequate in the Cyber Age. Dr. Howard Rubin and Carol Dekkers talk about cybergeography, the global economy, the digital divide, and the rise of developing nations on the Cyber landscape.

Traditional measures of a nation's strength, such as GDP and GNP, are inadequate in the Cyber Age. Dr. Howard Rubin and Carol Dekkers talk about cybergeography, the global economy, the digital divide, and the rise of developing nations on the Cyber landscape.

TEXT TRANSCRIPT: 12 September 2000

Announcer: Welcome to Quality Plus e-Talk! with Carol Dekkers. This program will focus on the latest in the field of technology. All comments, views, and opinions are those of the host, guests, and callers. Now let's join Carol Dekkers.

Carol: Good afternoon, I'm Carol Dekkers live. Actually, pre-taped. This is our first show, and we're going to be focusing on technology topics. I run a company called Quality Plus Technologies that's based in Tampa, Florida. And we have a number of people who work with us that focus on process improvement in the software development arena, who work in software measurement, and do a lot of work in ISO standards.

My guest today, I'm very fortunate to have Dr. Howard A. Rubin with me. And Dr. Rubin is a full tenured professor and the chair of the department of computer science at Hunter College at the City University of New York. He's also the CEO of Rubin Systems, Inc., a META Group research fellow, and a former Nolan Norton research fellow. I've known Howard for a number of years, and he always brings with him an absolute plethora of information. He's been in the software metrics, or software measurement, arena and an editor for IEEE Computer, the editor of IT Metrics Strategies, a member of the editorial board of the IT Journal, and on the board of advisors for Blueprint. In 1997, he was named one of the top research and development stars to watch, an individual whose achievements are shaping the future of our industrial culture and America's technology policy. He is currently serving on the private sector e-commerce digital task force, organized by the White House. He has met President Clinton in person and has advised him on technology issues. He possesses a PhD from the City University of New York, and was awarded in the areas of biology, ecology, oceanography, and computer science. He's internationally recognized for his work academically and commercially as an author, researcher, speaker and consultant in the areas of performance management, metrics, global software economics, and most recently, he's been involved in something called digital divide. He's been appointed to the Vice President's private sector task force for the G-8 meeting in the digital divide initiative. He's been involved in something called cybergeography, digital planet. And we're going to have a very exciting show discussing these types of things with Howard Rubin.

So I'd like to welcome Dr. Howard Rubin to the show and ask if he wanted to maybe start off by saying a little bit about what is cybergeography?

Howard: Okay, Carol. First, I'd like to congratulate you on your first show and for making me part of it. And in terms of the world if cybergeography, I would say that interestingly enough, if you look at the world today, people have a pretty decent knowledge of the physical geography of the earth, and you learn about this in school, and people understand, you know, where various states are, and all sorts of things about the oceans and things about the continents. People also seems to have somewhat of an understanding, although less deeply, in terms of weather systems and sort of the atmospheric geography of the earth. But more interestingly right now, one of the big issues has to do with what I call the cybergeography. I mean, you can envision the earth as sort of surrounded by this cyber layer of electronic connections through which commerce and people speak. And the real issue right now is how the world is essentially connected. If we were talking about oil, we would know to look to the Middle East a whole lot. If we were looking at gold deposits, and also Alaska of course, for gold deposits or other precious minerals or diamonds, we'd look toward South Africa.

But what if we're starting to look for new sources of technology labor, or trying to understand where you have the telecommunications bandwidth you need, or you try to understand who are countries' electronic trading partners versus regional or physical trading partners. That's what I mean about cybergeography. It has to do now with literally recharting the map of e-space or cyberspace.

Carol: And what I'm hearing you say, it sounds like it pervades much beyond what would be just generally thought of as Internet-type communications, that we're talking about, it sounds like, telecommunications, we're talking about the labor, shifting of labor, who develops the software, who has the intellectual intelligence. Sounds like all of that might be within what you're talking about.

Howard: Right, exactly. And the real issue is, if you look at the competitiveness of nations today, or actually go back in time, you go back in time and you go to some sort of agricultural age, where agriculture rules, and you basically look at the issues of who can produce the most food sources and things like that per nation. That's always been important. Then you get to the industrial age, and the success of nations wasn't just determined by their fertile land and their ability to grow things. Transportation became very important as things crossed local or regional or national boundaries. And the success of nations in the industrial age had to do with their basic industrial infrastructure, which are harbors and highways and rail transport and all sorts of other ways of moving things around.

So if you look at an industrial age nation, how would you know if they're successful, well they were able to transport natural resources, turn it into products. They had a good system of harbors and highways and railroads and airports and other things. And they had the sources of labor to make use of it. Now, when you look at sort of beyond the information age, to the network age, the issue you have to deal with in terms of nations is a bit different. The success of nations is going to be determined by their digital infrastructure, their technology work force, their ability to turn concepts into products quickly. Not just physical natural resources, but in fact intellectual capital and the ability to mine that. And this even transcends the Internet, because we are looking at things like labor and economic dynamism and a whole bunch of other features.

So as we sort of move from industrial to information to network age, in fact, you know every schoolkid has seen various kinds of relief maps and things of the planet, and on the news every day you see sort of maps of the weather systems and things from satellites, but no one has a view of the earth, of how literally to mine and where are the intellectual resources, the people resources, and even the network resources that are the basic ingredients of success now.

Carol: And one of the things that I've seen is that for the Internet, it brings us a lot closer, but yet where people are physically located, and the governments that are controlling them, have to have some sort of a big impact.

Howard: Yeah, and actually an amazing thing is you go back to this agricultural to industrial to information age, network age, world, and you start to take a look at the ability of nations to compete. We'll talk about business competition a little later, I hope. If you look at the ability of nations to compete, if you were going to compete in the industrial age, in fact, you had to do massive amounts of work in terms of your physical infrastructure, in terms of laying, you know, rails, space for railbed, dredging out harbors and reshaping things, and even building the plans for the steel mills and the production. Think about now in the network age, you're a developing nation, an emerging nation, you're sort of in the second tier in terms of global competitiveness. And the issue is what do you have to do to move on? Well, to move on right now, digital infrastructure, wireless telecommunications, high bandwidth. These are not things that require decades of development to make happen. As a matter of fact, a lot of those things are possible very easily by changes in government policy, investments, and things like that. Even the changes in the educational system, to start to produce a techno-savvy work force, can happen much faster than ever before. So just as people talk about business moving at Internet speed, we will start to see nations moving around at Internet speed in terms of global competitiveness. And in fact, the digitization of nations is becoming a major factor, and that's why we've heard about things like the "digital divide" and these becoming summit issues everywhere from the G-8 to the U.N.

Carol: What do you mean by "digital divide"?

Howard: The term "digital divide" has been used a whole lot to sort of, both in a national and international context, to sort of show the gap between sort of the digital "haves" and "have-nots." If you look at a nation with a strong digital infrastructure, telecommunications, high Internet density, and things like that, those are the digital "haves." You have the European nations, in particular Scandinavia, you have the U.S. and Canada, Japan to some extent. And then you start to go to countries like Latin America or Africa and these are nations that are first developing their digital infrastructure, making investments in it, but they'd be at the moment on the other side of the digital divide in terms of their amount of labor they have, in terms of the technology work force, in terms of the digital infrastructure, in terms of their being able to develop intellectual capital and turn it into process and product quickly. So this notion of digital divide has come up with regard to differences between nations. In the U.S., this notion of digital divide has come up very strongly. We're starting to see it in the national elections between states that have and have not, or even segments of the population that do or do not have access to the Internet.

Carol: We've been sitting, feeling pretty good here in the United States. We feel that we're pretty good competitively, that we're industrialized, that we're really ahead of a lot of nations, and I saw a presentation that you did, it was about six months ago, where I was extremely surprised to find out that some of the so-called non-industrial, or the countries that we wouldn't necessarily think of as being able to make these leaps, are really in some cases on our back doorstep, in terms of competitiveness.

Howard: Yeah, an actually amazing thing is, you heard one of my speeches. When you speak to a U.S. audience and you ask a question like, "Which nation has the most computers per person in the world?" And when you use computers per person as the metric, it turns out to be the United States. Then you ask…and that's the correct answer…then you ask, "Which country has the most computer power per person?" And again, it turns out to be the United States. Now you take a game show and you make it "Who Wants to be an E-Millionaire?" and you start to ask some other questions. You start to ask questions such as, "Which country has the most number of Internet hosts per capita?" And kaboom, the answer that would jump out at you is the U.S. Well, up until last year, the answer to that was Finland. The U.S. has finally moved a little bit ahead. They've actually caught up with Finland, believe it or not. You start asking about communications in countries, in terms of telephone lines or bandwidth per population, you look at cellular phones per unit of population, and it turns out you're talking about countries like Norway or Switzerland, Sweden, and other places. Even when you look at who has the lowest telecommunications cost in the world, at one time that was Brazil, another time it's the U.S., and right now it's the Philippines. As a matter of fact, if you ask the question now, "Which country has the highest percentage of their work force in knowledge jobs?" The answer right now is the Philippines. As a matter of fact, I believe if you are an AOL user and you contact an AOL help desk or, there are aspects of the …….. right now, and you're looking for assistance in their call center, when you're dialing that number, you're actually going out to the Philippines. So the whole basic notion that people have of cybergeography, the earth in terms of these kinds of parameters, just doesn't match the reality. And that's even true in the United States in terms of trying to understand, you're going into market and doing things with e-commerce, it turns out the state of Alaska has the highest density, the highest percent of the population online. It's Alaska, of all places.

Carol: And I don't know if we have any Alaskan listeners, but I've heard people say that there's not much else to do all winter.

Howard: Well, the interesting thing is when you study cybergeography, the lessons to be learned. If you look at the greatest number of Internet hosts per person, that was Finland. The greatest percent of population online in the States was Alaska. So I tell people, "Think cold. Think the Internet." That's literally it.

Carol: And it's not hockey.

Howard: No, it's not hockey.

In talking about today's measures of economy, the types of things like the Gross National Product, that type of thing, I think I've heard you say that they're inadequate for this new cyber-economy.

Howard: Right. In terms of, if you're trying to develop an index that shows you the strength of a nation today, or the future strength of a nation, if you're looking to make investments or place your corporation, or whatever you're trying to do on a global basis…GDP, GNP, those are measures that really came out of the Industrial Era. In fact, if you want to look at the success of, potential success and strength of nations, in sort of the Cyber Age, the issue really becomes quite different. What you want to understand is the strength and completeness of a nation's digital infrastructure. You want to understand access to labor and knowledge jobs. You want to understand the globalization potential of a nation, how well it can do business in the global economy. You want to understand economic dynamism and competition, which has to do with how productive the nation is. But what's happening internally, in terms of venture capital and entrepreneurship and processes, you also would want to know about the innovation capacity of the nation itself, what's going into R&D, how well it can produce intellectual capital and things like that. So if you back up and you say you wanted to be able to measure or judge the health and new economy wealth of nations, really the big categories have to do with where is the availability of qualified engineers and people with IT skills, of management, higher education. It's globalization, which has to do with export positioning, potential and policies. It's dynamism and competition in terms of productivity and worker motivation and how well it's transforming to a digital economy, which has to do with its digital infrastructures, as I mentioned before. And then the final category was innovation capacity. So in terms of creating a cyber map of the earth, we've built these tentative measures and said, suppose we can judge the strength and positioning of nations, and this is one way we've gone about it.

Carol: And we are going to have to go to a break real quickly. We've been talking to Dr. Howard Rubin, who is an expert in the area of cybergeography. And we will be back after a few more minutes.

And we're back. I'm Carol Dekkers, and you're rejoining my guest this week, Dr. Howard Rubin, as we talk about some cyber geography issues. We've been talking a little bit about digital divide and really how we've made a cyber map, in terms of some of the work that Howard's been doing in his consultancy. Howard, I know that you did a worldwide benchmark study that's been very famous at a lot of IT conferences. And I think that was originally funded by the Canadian government.

Howard: Right, in 1994, Industry Canada, which is the equivalent of the Department of Commerce of the Canadian government, working on the …. I believe of various ministries up there and the Prime Minister, were trying to do an analysis of how to formulate policies to effectively make Canada a major player in the IT world. Not to belittle it, but to literally to move Canada to a dominant position and help Canada become the India of the Western hemisphere.

Carol: And there are some surprises that came out of that first study, that Canada fared very well, particularly with relation to us.

Howard: And actually what happened in that study, we looked at national competitiveness with an IT view, which is it had to do with software engineering, processes, and productivity and quality. And then that first study, it was sort of difficult to present those results, because in fact Canada funded the study, but the results actually showed in that snapshot, this goes back to 1994, that the highest productivity IT workers that we found in the world were actually in Canada itself. And then distributed around the world we found countries like ……… and actually found the productivity in countries like India, where conventional wisdom for these high productivity producers was not up there as expected. So we got a different distribution than we expected. On the other side of that, though, to be fair, we also looked a lot at software quality. So while Canada was highest in productivity, although the quality was reasonable, it was the weakest quality in terms of software code quality versus the U.S. and India. So in fact there's lots of things to look at when you look at the …………. of IT, software engineering competitiveness. So that was one of the things we found. And we continued this. We've been doing this worldwide. I teach ………… benchmark study continuously right now. It's literally updated on my Web page, on metricsnet.com monthly. We've been able to follow almost seven years now of detailed trends. (inaudible)

Carol: And your measures (inaudible). You've got a new e-economy index.

Howard: Right. The e-economy index is not only looking at software productivity and quality. We've decided to try to index national performance as a way of having, I hate to use the word competitors, but a way of gauging a country's sort of global new economy, e-economy power. So we've developed an index, a system that looked at a number of factors, and the factors have to do with infrastructure, work force, and contributions like that, to be able to rate the strength of nations, but also to be able to take that index and break it into its component parts. You could start to take a look at the individual strengths of nations that would be players in the global economy.

Carol: Right. And how has the U.S. government, in particular, I knew you're on the Vice President's private sector task force, for the G-8. How has the U.S. in particular started to (inaudible)?

Howard: Major companies in the U.S. have taken a keen interest in the digital divide, and the President has sort of put out a call to action before the G-8 summit meeting in July in Japan, in which he asked major U.S. corporations about what they could be doing in contributing to the worldwide picture in helping developing nations so they don't end up on the wrong side of the digital divide. I'm actually part of that group, and our data of mapping …….. you rate the index, the global new economy index, of a country in sort of a vertical bar chart. On this vertical bar chart you start to find groups of nations that rank similarly, and then it drops off like a continental shelf. So our data has been used to help that map, I should say, the digital divide. On behalf of some folks in the U.N. we've actually taken our global new economy index and matched it to a human development index that the U.N. uses for the quality of life in countries. So our data has been used as sort of an unofficial backdrop for a lot of the work that's going on, and contributed to this pool on the digital divide initiative. And actually, the U.S. government has been talking about (inaudible).

Carol: And I think it's really graphic that you said that it's really like this continental shelf, it just drops off. And hopefully, the U.S., North America, dominates the positive side.

Howard: Right. If you're in the top end of this sort of digital divide shelf, and you start to see what nations start to cluster together, there are the countries that you'd expect like the U.S. and Japan, and Australia, the Netherlands and so on, I guess the top three players that are really up there are the U.S., Japan, and (inaudible). And then you start to have a drop off, and then it just keeps going going going like into the depths of the ocean.

Carol: Gee. Well, we'll be right back with more of Dr. Howard Rubin and our discussion about the digital divide and cybergeography, and what separates and links us as nations.

And we're back. This is Carol Dekkers. For any of you who have just joined us, I'm Carol Dekkers. I run a company called Quality Plus Technologies, and we are technology industry leaders in the area of software measurement and management consulting services. We specialize in services to the information technology industry, particularly in the area of improving the way that software is developed and the way it is developed to meet customer needs, to meet requirements, to meet quality software requirements. I haven't mentioned our Web site yet, but we are at www.qualityplustech.com. And there's a lot of information there that you can go and take a look at. I'm rejoining my guest, Dr. Howard Rubin. And we've spent the last, oh, 25 minutes discussing cybergeography, digital planet, some of the work that's going on. It's very exciting with the U.S. government, and I guess not only are we doing work, you're doing work with the U.S. government, but you've also been retained by India's technology minister and the president of the Philippines on the whole cybergeography and studies that you've been working on with IT trends and benchmarking that you've been working for the last seven years. Can you explain a little bit about that, Howard?

Howard: Sure, I'd be glad to. And I guess I would soften the word "retained," the work we've been doing with governments, we do for them, not really for hire. So we stay out of politics that way, which sounds a little strange. But… what happens is, what is happening is, everyone from the United States, President Clinton's administration, the governments of Ireland, India, the U.K. and Philippines are realizing again that they all need to either continue to be major players in the global economy or the global new sort of e-economy gives them new opportunities. So, for example, a country like India has had a massively strong reputation in the world of IT outsourcing. They've adopted government policies that allow them to create centers such as Bangalore and attract U.S. companies and companies from other countries to invest in facilities there. And that's …….. by their labor pool, which is basically generated through educational policy and things like that. And in fact, also now major changes in telecommunications policy, now that we're sort of in a wireless age. So actually for a country like India, and we're finding patterns of this over and over again, is countries are very much interested in finding ways of, I hate to use the word advertising, but letting people understand what their competitiveness position is in the global economy, number one, and number two, they're very interested in benchmarking where they stand in terms of their nations' strengths versus other nations. And use that information to help them enact policies, to leapfrog ahead of other nations, or literally change their global competitiveness position. So I recently had the opportunity to be in New York at the Indian Consulate, with the technology minister of India, and actually was part of a panel with him on issues of India's position in the world in terms of the new digital economy and actually where India has been very strong, clearly as I've mentioned, in the area of being a major supplier of labor and ability to develop software onshore and outsource with the U.S. and other countries. That's one aspect of being a player in this economy. But in terms of, you look at India with a population of around a billion people, you also take a look at what are people looking for in the digital economy. Well, they're looking for new digital markets. And in fact, India is very low in terms of measurement of percent of population on the Internet today, and things like that. And in fact, interestingly enough, while we were there at this meeting, some U.S. companies did ask the question. They said, well, why should we be concerned about India as offering us a digital market, because Internet penetration is so low? And the technology minister made some wonderful comments about changes in government regulation, deregulation really, of telecommunications, and their goal to get 30% of their population online within a few years. And dealing with issues of literacy and lots of other things that they have concerns about. And while 30% sounds quite low, the technology minister made a wonderful statement. He said if we get 30% of our population online, that's larger than the population of the entire United States, effectively. So in fact, in terms of digital markets, looking at countries such as India, and even looking at China, as those countries start to ramp up penetration of the Internet, they will offer wonderful opportunities. So if you look at the numbers in the U.S. today, you find that one out of every two households, roughly, has online capability. If you start to look outside the U.S., the global number is one out of 30 households have online capability, and that's sort of the global number. The opportunity for increased penetration is much greater outside the U.S. than in the U.S. So in terms of a country like India, their interest is how can they maintain their position as an outsourcer and work force supplier in the global digital economy, and they're also very interested in developing themselves as a global market force, based on the strength of their population, hopefully improved quality of life and economics.

Carol: It's very interesting, because I know a lot of people who are from India that come here, will be retained in the United States a lot of times for a year, and then will take a lot of money back and be some of the richest in the nation there. It's very interesting to me to take a look at the countries like India and China, which we would normally kind of think of as emerging countries, where they've got some of the poorest living conditions, and at the same time some of the highest tech, at some of the lowest prices. And it's probably very interesting to manage a nation like that, with such a diversity and such an absolute polarization of haves and have-nots.

Howard: That's right. They have more than their own digital divide. There are lots of levels of economic divide there. But you find that the nation is focusing on the most pressing problems they have today, which have to do with health and education and basic economics. But they're seeing that the digital technologies are going to offer them an entrée to perhaps impacting those areas all at once. And actually the global digital divide initiative is about that, using digital technologies to transmit health information and everything. So people can access it. The Philippines are a little bit different story. After producing the global new economy book, interestingly enough, I got a call that President Estrada of the Philippines was coming to the United States and would I like to meet with him, or he'd like to meet with me, actually is the way it went. And I said I'd be pleased to do so, and I had a meeting with him in Washington, DC, outside Washington, DC, sort of an economic meeting sponsored in that area. And interestingly enough, in the Philippines, President Estrada gave a speech to the nation, and his speech to his nation, which is a state of the union, a mobilizing speech, said that in the Philippines, as a developing nation, we now have a major opportunity in the information age, to leapfrog ahead, and that in fact, the digital economy offers nations such as his the opportunity of moving forward faster than just ever before. And that they can do this by changing their technology policies, having an educational work force, educated work force, and encouraging outside investment. So in fact, the Philippines right now has started to make changes in its policies, has done a lot to follow the model India has, particular zones or areas, that are very well focused on electronic trade, has done a massive amount of work on its educational infrastructure, and is producing I believe hundreds of thousands of computer science graduates a year, has focused on understanding that English is one of the key languages for the network age. They have a trained work force, both technically and in a strong knowledge of English, and in fact is moving very aggressively to attract foreign investment. They intend to go head to head with India. So right now, Philippines views India as their primary target, I believe, in competitive space, or one of their primary targets. And their goal is to attract outside investments, have high bandwidth communications, and have a wonderfully trained work force that will make them a global player. And, like I said, the president, with everything else going on in the Philippines, addressed the nation about their chance to leap ahead and become a major player in the global economy, is literally through this digital transformation.

Carol: And it's almost unprecedented, that if you take a country like the Philippines or a country like India, that they've got, as you said, they've got the health care issues, they've got rudimentary Maslow's hierarchy of needs, they're focusing for much of the nation on the basics in those areas, yet they're able to leapfrog ahead without actually having the emigrate anywhere else, from their own backyard.

Howard: Right. And this does cause some tension. Although I wasn't able to be at the G-8 summit in Japan itself, when the digital divide initiative was discussed. There were many demonstrators saying we don't need computers when we don't have basic water and sanitation and certain things. So there are issues about moving a country ahead in the proper sequence of priorities, in terms of what will do the best for the health and welfare of those people. And that's why also it was the government of India that asked us to take a look at what we know about the global new economy index and the human development index to understand how technology is influencing the quality of life. Because at the end of the day, that's what it's about. At the people level.

Carol: Right. What's that meant to U.S. corporations? Has it allowed U.S. corporations to actually kind of involve the U.S. as a country by doing a lot more of this off shore? We've got a… I know the U.S. hires a lot of offshore programming help from India. Are we the largest nation that employs Indian offshore labor? Are other countries leapfrogging ahead of us? What's it meant for us?

Howard: Yes, actually the U.S…. The U.S. is in an interesting position in a couple of ways. Number one, it's sort of the largest technology work force, sitting with about 2 to 2-1/2 million people in software engineering-related fields. And the U.S. is also facing a labor shortage, saying that there are on the order of 350,000 to 500,000 unfilled jobs. So the U.S. has perhaps the greatest shortage and the greatest need. And I wouldn't use the word shortage, I use the word shortfall, because it's not clear that… They're job vacancies, it's not clear there's the right match between people and skills and what the vacancies are. So the U.S. has this tremendous pressure to fill holes in the labor force. And in fact, going to India, going to the Philippines, is key. And other nations are finding that, too. Germany, for example.

Carol: And we are talking with Howard Rubin on Quality Plus e-Talk! We have to take a break for a few messages, and we'll be back to wrap up with Dr. Howard Rubin.

And we're back for our last segment. We're talking here with Dr. Howard Rubin. Your new company, Howard, is called Rubin Systems. And you're also a META Group research fellow, former Nolan Norton research fellow. You've just been everywhere. And I've often actually said, you know, Howard Rubin is Savoir Faire. Where is Savoir Faire? Savoir Faire is everywhere. Howard Rubin is popping up absolutely everywhere. And we've been talking for the last 40 minutes or so about the digital economy, the cyber mapping of the earth, and I think before we went into break, you were just finishing up, you had started to mention something about Germany that I think people might be interested in.

Howard: Yes, Carol, you had asked me about the issue is the U.S. the greatest employer of sort of offshore labor, whether it's through outsourcing or H-1B visas or whatever. And I guess what I was saying is that U.S. makes extensive use of offshore resources, even by sending the work overseas, whether it be Ireland or India or elsewhere, and a lot of that is a result of economics, clearly, because it is a global market, but number two, the issue of the U.S. IT labor shortfall, as I like to call it. And other nations are starting to see, and Germany's a recent example. I was interviewed by one of the leading business magazines about their changes in policy, because they too realize they need to be competitive in the global new e-economy, and they need access to the work force, and they have a work force shortage, so to be able to bring workers in, they have to be able to change their immigration and work policy laws. So it allows people to move fluidly around between countries and do work, and they're actually working on new ways of bringing in labor from India and other developing nations and other talented work forces that can make up for some degree of their shortfall, without having to send the work offshore, which can lead to other management issues.

Carol: Now, does this give… It sounds really exciting, and for anybody that's not in the information technology industry, who is sitting on the periphery and listening to all these exciting things that are happening in India and the Philippines and hearing that we've got a labor shortfall here in the United States… Would you have any advice for people that might be thinking about making a career change, or might be thinking about going back to school at night and taking programming, or shifting careers? What kind of advice would you give them?

Howard: Well, clearly right now we're looking at a national situation that there is a tremendous shortfall. There are vacancies for people with specialized skills, and the number of vacancies is growing, and more and more of the jobs in the work force is, you know, the number of agricultural jobs and manufacturing jobs is falling off, the number of technology work force jobs is just increasing tremendously. So clearly, it's a definite area of opportunity. But number two, the other big message is that it's an opportunity, area of opportunity in the U.S., but literally with the Internet and Web-based work collaborations, there is now a global market for labor. And we'll start seeing changes in labor marketplaces and all sorts of Web-enabled global work going on. So anyone who's thinking about going back to school, anyone who's in the current work force should be thinking about what are the talents and skills that are needed over the next 2, 3, 4, 5 years, and how job recruiting and work product development and all this will be changed through the Internet? And it's more than just telecommuting, working at home. It's being able to have distributed work teams, and having a strong economic balance all over the world. And number two, for U.S. workers, you have to remember right now that it's not a myth. If you go offshore to India, you're able to get a talented work force for far less than the U.S. And you take a look at the Philippines, and you're finding good labor at $2,500 per year, which is wildly different than the U.S. So U.S. work force people have to be thinking about what are they going to do next? What are the skills and things that are rising out there? And what can they do with this great difference in economics, to remain competitive in terms of quality and value added they can bring to the job.

Carol: Right. It sounds really exciting. I think a lot of people will have a lot of questions for you, and I'd like to invite Dr. Howard Rubin to come back later in our season. I'd like to invite him to come back for one of our live shows, when listeners can phone in and ask him direct questions. One of the things I've always found about you that I find absolutely enthralling, Howard, is the fact that you're at what I'd consider the pinnacle of your career. I just aspire to be up there. And yet you're absolutely approachable. You've never gotten this huge head, which I'm sure a lot of people would be if you've met the President, and you're called on by the president of the Philippines, and India's technology minister. And you're in incredible demand, and yet you've never lost that down to earth quality, and I absolutely value that. I think that's one of the greatest assets that you bring to this earth and this society, and I think that some of our listeners would probably love to share some of that, some of the excitement and enthusiasm that clearly rubs off from you.

Howard: All right. Thank you very much. I'd be glad to do it.

Carol: And I'd like to really thank you for spending the last hour with us. I've learned a lot. And I'd encourage anyone who's got questions or who would like to know a little bit more about this cyber-economy, cyber-mapping of the earth, to take a look at Howard's new Web site, which is absolutely phenomenal. And the address is www.metricnet.com. And as he said, there's an update almost monthly of information about where we fit, where the U.S. fits, where other countries fit, in the global economy. You can also email Howard at [email protected], and he's very good at returning emails. This has been a really exciting first show for me, just learning about all the things that are going on. In terms of the November election, will things change in terms of what you're doing, Howard?

Howard: Well, I'll probably stop my national election poll and go on to something else. But that's one of the things on metricnet. But no, things won't change in terms of what I'm doing. I think the issues of cybergeography, the digital divide, and global competitiveness transcend any temporal election.

Carol: I'd like to again say thank you very much. I think that this has been a wonderful first show. It's exceeded my greatest expectations. And I'd like to thank you very much for being a part of that. And I hope we can get you back in, sometime I would say in early November. If any of our listeners want to give feedback in terms of the stuff that we've been talking about or topics for the show when we get Howard back, you can send email to [email protected]. And for other shows in the future, you can also click on renaissanceradio.com, or we are going to be adding a link to our qualityplustech.com Web site so that you can hear streaming audio from anywhere in the country. So if you've got colleagues and friends who are interested in e-talk, to talk about information technology, please tell them. And we've got kind of one final remark from Howard Rubin. Howard, would you like to leave us with any final words?

Howard: Carol, thanks for the opportunity. I would say, with all the connectivity and the global economy we talked about, and getting people together through digitization, the issue all your listeners should think about is how can you increase connectivity, actually deal with digital divide issues, and preserve cultures without homogenizing everything into one big sort of leveling Web mass?

Carol: I think that's great food for thought as people are driving home in Phoenix and Providence, Rhode Island. And I'd like to invite our listeners to our live show next week, where we're going to have Heather Winward, who is an executive coach with us. Heather does a form of executive coaching, where she dissects teams based on their handwriting. So we're going to be actually having a live show where you can phone in to the 1-866-277-5369 toll-free line. Again, that's 1-866-277-5369. Once you get on the line, you'll be able to fax in handwriting samples to Heather Winward, and she'll be able to analyze them, somewhat like a psychic hotline. So I'm looking forward to hearing from many of you this week with your feedback through jstone, and to talking to you live next week and finding out a little bit more about our team of listeners. We will have the fax numbers available at the beginning of next week's show. Meanwhile, keep those toll-free numbers in mind and keep e-talking!

Copyright 2001 Quality Plus Technologies and Carol Dekkers. All rights reserved.

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