Thursday, July 05, 2007

Network Economy

I've suggested networking the Burgh Diaspora for purposes of economic development and increasing Pittsburgh-related entrepreneurial activity. There are a number of impediments to distance collaboration, but an audit of talent and assets among Pittsburgh expatriates is much less daunting. Consider I.B.M. and its initiative to organize global expertise to solve complex problems anywhere in the world:

The idea is to build networks for producing and delivering technology services much like the global manufacturing networks that have evolved over the last couple of decades. Look inside a computer or automobile and the parts come from all over the world. High-end technology services projects increasingly will follow that formula, combining skills from across the globe and delivered on-site or remotely over the Internet.

Talent converges at the site requiring service, a reverse outsourcing migration. Instead of sending the job to Bangalore, labor is flown to where it is needed. The connection between place of residence and where you work is further dislocated. Of course, some tasks can be done remotely and only require labor to telecommute.

The resulting economic geography is a landscape that Pittsburgh is uniquely positioned to leverage. The cost of living in the region is low, but the quality of life is high. There is an ample local supply of expertise in conjuncture with a large number of expatriates acting as a reservoir of talent that could be flown to Pittsburgh (or other places) for certain projects. I.B.M.'s business model would be ideal for the region.

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