An idea has been running through my mind over the last few months. What if businesses decide to step outside of the global economy? With the UK slipping into recession, the onging Eurozone crisis and Asia slowing down, it would seem that things are not looking well at all. And it doesn’t look like it is going to change much over the next 10 years if the forecast in the Global Outlook 2012 is accurate.
But is that the whole story?
If you look at specific economies, you start seeing that there is some positive growth. Within the Eurozone, Ireland is starting to show consistent growth and Germany remains strong. Despite the slowdown, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia are growing. Chile’s economy is growing and the US economy is showing some modest growth of its own. And there is some very interesting stuff happening in Nigeria.
Are these examples of businesses “stepping out” of the global economy?
It may be more of a mindset or an unwillingness to wait and see if the economy is going to go back to “normal.” Perhaps there is some kind of recognition that things are not going to revert to how things were 4 years ago. Beyond regions of the world and specific economies there are some interesting trends:
Collaborative consumption– In a previous #KaizenBiz (it was #kaizenblog at the time) we had Nick Allen of Spring Ventures as our guest on this topic. ZipCar, AirBNB, Craigslist and bartering networks are finding success as they are connecting with customers who want use of goods or services when they need or want it without the responsibility or cost of ownership. This can be seen by businesses who rent equipment or have a virtual office for cost-cutting, personnel or other reasons.
Digitization of manufacturing-There is an interesting post on The Economist explaining how manufacturing is experiencing a revolution. Additive manufacturing includes using 3D printers to create moulds, lighter and resilient new materials, more robotics and online collaborative manufacturing services. Not only will larger manufacturing companies take advantage of this but also smaller companies will be able to compete effectively.
Collaborative relationships a la “Co-opetition”– Even though Brandenburger and Nalebuff’s book has been out for years, their point about changing the game has not gotten old. With cloud computing, social media and other technology tools, there are large and small companies engaging in short and long term relationships to achieve profitable success. There are a number of corporations partnering with universities to create incubators resulting in thriving companies. There are all kinds of collaborative relationships of a smaller nature between peers in networking groups.
What is so different about this economic turbulence compared to past recessions?
How do emerging economies fit into the overall global economy?
How would you describe how businesses are responding to the global economy?
Which sectors do you think are positioned to succeed in today’s business environment?