Feature

It’s a small world

There is a global business revolution coming, says Steve Pateman, Executive Director, Head of UK Banking. And for those companies willing to step up to the challenge, the opportunities are significant.

Challenge – and opportunity

The change which is affecting the global business environment is not subtle, it represents a fundamental, seismic shift directly affecting customer base, pricing, communication and, in particular, competition. Finding a place for your company to thrive in this transforming landscape can seem daunting – but those who get it right will be taking advantage of one of the most positive opportunities in recent history.

What we’re facing

The recent McKinsey Report on the ‘Resource Revolution’ has revealed that demand from emerging markets, particularly Asia, has wiped out the price declines of the previous century. The risk is that the world enters a new era of high and volatile prices. At the same time, 3.5 billion people worldwide are joining the middle classes, creating never-before-seen consumer demand, at a time when obtaining resources is difficult. The report also says, however, that this demand can be met. And for those businesses brave enough to step up to the challenge of expanding and fulfilling the demand of this huge middle-class market, the possibilities are endless.

Take the middle ground

It is now easier than ever before for businesses to transact, communicate, import, export and, ultimately, to grow. Capital, labour, goods and technology flow relatively freely across borders, meaning the growth opportunities presented by expanding overseas markets are there for the taking. One example of a company doing just that is Walmart, building a strong offering in China, based on Chinese consumers’ trust in the brand. The really difficult task for companies looking to do the same is playing the long game. Entrepreneurs and smaller businesses are often strongest on being responsive and innovative, with a more considered strategy driving the behaviour of established multinationals. The new business environment we are entering will simply not tolerate either gung-ho or overly-cautious attitudes. It is those businesses with a foot in both camps, accessing opportunities but not losing sight of future goals, which will do well.

Your time is now

By fully embracing advances in technology, businesses can gain considerable power and influence; creating new business models, blurring boundaries between one industry and another, exploiting new revenue models and, again, improving efficiencies. Mobile technologies allow consumers to engage with products from wherever they are, in ways never before imaginable. This is happening right now. By 2014, for example, Gartner forecasts that social networks will be the main means of internal business communication for 20% of employees worldwide. Using all the tools at their disposal, the bravest and boldest businesses can feel confident about establishing a strong position in this new and exciting world.

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John Carroll - Helping businesses achieve International success. Head of Product Management & International Business, Santander UK

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