Thursday, 3 June 2010

Change 1: How tech kills bureaucracy

Both my dad and my brother are elected politicians. They often discuss politics around the dinner table, and especially the running Israel crisis has been a hot topic. I think they sometimes talk too much. Thats a problem with politicians, they talk to much and nothing really happens. Bureaucracy. I friggin' hate it. There is better things to talk about right now, like me finishing my thesis and laying plans for adventures this autumn. Destroying my thesis gave me some freedom, a freedom I decided to use on change. So I changed the language on my blog, and informed my co-writer about it (he is a Grenoble Graduate as well).

I think he gave a fuck, because he hasn't really answered me yet (he just wrote me back:"Read Friedman's WF"). But he has relocated to Paris, and is probably busy pursuing sins there. However, its an interesting read. Thomas L. Friedman writes in his "the World is Flat", that today's rapid technological environment creates countless of opportunities across the whole globe. A intertwined world brings down boundries and opens our eyes in many ways. Also old and grumpy people full of prejudicsm are about to die: The cheese on the toast is melting, things aren't that stiff anymore. I am sorry you were the former generation, please go there in the corner, be idle and fade gracious away. Don't talk. Oh, for God's sake just shut up.

So rapid tech is changing the game, just as oil did decades ago.

The biggest privately held company in the world is Saudi Aramco, and the biggest public held company is PetroChina. I don't think its an coincidence that both those companies are energy companies and a product of humans craving for entertainment and a warm bed. I recently quit my job as a stockbroker in Oslo, Norway and fled away to Amsterdam. The main reason was probably my lack of being able to stay put in one place when I have better choices. Another reason is my incapability of dealing with systems and regulations (no, I wasn't inside trading). However, Amsterdam was a warm intimate heaven. We rented bicycles and were free birds in the city of heavens. But since my funds has a tendency to quickly disappear, I was either forced to call through slack phone lines to Tehran, where my dad is currently posted, and ask him to throw me a lifeline, or becoming a male prostitute in the Red Light District. None of the options were attractive.

I am a grown ass kid, I should play around with selfmade funds.

So I relocated to Stavanger, and decided to pursue a short career in the energy industry (I am tired of finance for a while). The introduction to a petro-related company was sweet, not only did it double my salary from what I made in Oslo - but it also gave me time to learn more about the most profitable industry on earth. The manager of my division (purchasing and logistics) took me around and told me a lot about the Norwegian oil industry. It is truly an extraordinary story. A tale of a small group of people that changed the whole economy of Norway, by in a smart way luring the British and the Danes. Anyhow, thats a long story. The most interesting fact about the petro-industry is that it is becoming more and more advanced. In the future offshore rigs and platforms, will ble completely managed by robots and machines - thats at least the goal and the vision.

Through sophisticated ERP and CRM systems, my company was aiming to cut service and production costs with drastic numbers. The new integrated systems had created a communication flow between division that in many ways diminished the former hierachy between workers and managers. This new efficient technology made them extraordinary when it came to assess and analyse a task, work on it and then complete it. I really loved the way that technology killed bureaucracy.

But you can do the same thing in other ways as well.

It was at an internet café in Amsterdam that I read through this amazing story about a Brazilian entrepreneur called Edivan Costa. The guy owns a business all over Brazil, that he built up from scratch and employs about 90 people now with twelve branches. What catched my eye about this story was not the fact that Costa started out from scratch (most billionaires do that), or that he is an Afro-Brazilian (Who really cares anymore?) or that he was uneducated (you don't need a degree from Harvard to be a smart man). The news here is that he made his money on: Beating the bureaucracy.

Yeah, you got me right.

Beating the fucking bureaucracy. As one of the infamous BRIC countries, Brazil is a growing with an tremendous speed. But on the contrary to the Saudi's and their ambitious "ten by ten" goal (look up SAGIA on google), its not that easy to establish a company in Brazil. The government supposedly takes one-third of your revenues in taxes, there is an inflexible labour law where you cannot fire people that easily, and because of all the licenses you need, I could take you up to 150 days (!) to start a business there. But Costa didn't use high tech gagdets to make the old office dwellers hurry their asses, he carefully studies how he could improve and help foreign companies establish a business more efficient and thus got down the whole process to 30- 40 days. Now he drives a fast car and has a beautiful girlfriend(s).

Good for him.

End of story is that the future is bright: A place where bureaucracy must die, and where rigidity stands for fall is the perfect future for free birds.

1 comment:

Jonathan Mack said...

Red Light District is a lifetime experience!
But, to be sure to have a unforgettable time, you should check out this The Amsterdam Red Light Guide