Saturday, February 25, 2012

Connecting Globally

Greetings from Parsippany, NJ, where I'm helping a client on a unique off grid motor drive application. But that's not the subject of this post. In the last six months I've experienced the globalization of business on a scale that I would have never predicted. In that period I have traveled by car, air, boat and rail, mostly in the US and Europe, to make those connections that simply can't be done any other way. This isn't quite as seamless as one would hope, particularly here in the US. For example, it can be faster, door to door, to drive to Chicago from Minneapolis than to fly. Rail here in the US is spotty. Great for getting around the east coast, but not great elsewhere. The real eye opener has been car travel. We drove out here to New Jersey because we had a fair amout of material and equipment to bring with. On the way we were in Western Pennsyvania around lunch time. Not one to frequent chains if I can help it, I pulled out my smartphone to see what was in the area and ended up at a neat little diner in Reynoldsville, PA (
Talking to our host, I found out she had a degree in IT but couldn't find employment in her field locally so she works in the diner. But it turn out she is using her skills anyway. The diner opened in 2006 and even though Reynoldsville is several miles off  I80, they had a presence on the internet that helped us find them. Their market wasn't just the local population, but everyone passing on I80 at mealtime who had a smartphone. In the grand tradition of small business in America dating back 200 years, they were thinking globally and acting locally, something that is easier today than ever before.

At SDP we have clients throughout the US, many have operations, suppliers or customers overseas. Some we've never met, or have we? Through frequent on line meetings via or even Skype, I feel I know these people.

We've networked our own computers for several years and everyone on staff can access the company database remotely. About six months ago we extended this linkage to clients. Not only can we share information seamlesly, but in several cases we link directly through our clients computers to witness testing of the equipment we are jointly developing, download new software live or provide live updates to their production line. Our own suppliers are scattered throughout the world as well, and we use the same resources to collaborate with them on a one on one basis.

The most stable businesses for a location are those that are formed by local residents. It's a far more reliable and longer term solution than attracting an auto plant run by a distant large company. That's why Boeing is in Seattle, or why Our Hometown Restaurant is in Renoldsville PA or Software Defined Power is in Golden Valley, MN.

Six months ago I was concerned that the recent recession would leave places like Reynoldsville to die, but now I see that when small, local businesses embrace the opportunities available through technology the solution is at hand.