Harold L. Sirkin is a Chicago-based senior partner of The Boston Consulting Group and author, with James W. Hemerling and Arindam K. Bhattacharya, of GLOBALITY: Competing with Everyone from Everywhere for Everything.
In a recent BusinessWeek viewpoint he summarized why he thinks history will show that these current economic times spurred a tremendous era of globalization, with emerging markets being the centerpiece for growth and recovery. In making his case, he references recent emerging market deals and corporate strategies as well as merger and acquisition activities involving companies such as Procter & Gamble, Royal Philips Electronics, Microsoft, Far Eastern International Bank, China Petroleum & Chemical, Tata Consultancy Services, Oracle, Qualcomm and Zeebo. Much of the information, like Proctor & Gamble’s drive to double sales in 15 years through emerging market products and strategies, will be familiar. In the aggregate, these examples tell a compelling story. Mr. Sirkin writes:
The recession has thrown virtually everything up for grabs: entire companies, divisions, specific assets, markets, market share. And companies from all corners of the globe fortunate enough to have the wherewithal have been expanding, launching new products, purchasing assets. Other companies have been making strategic changes to position themselves to increase their global footprints… Rather than setting it back, the Great Recession is pushing globalization forward—encouraging and in some cases forcing companies to make decisions and take actions that may have been delayed in more normal times.
His advice? Forget about traditional market boundaries and borders: 1. Discard old notions. Be prepared to acknowledge that the world you once knew doesn’t exist anymore. You now need to think globally, as never before. Whether you manufacture farm implements, cell phones, or pharmaceuticals, your products might be made anywhere or end up anywhere. Success in the future will belong to those who can see beyond borders. The world of globality is not a place for the culturally timid.
While Mr. Sirkin doesn’t say it, globality is also apt to drive the further adoption of world standards, not the least of which is GS1 for product labeling and supply chain efficiency. It seems to me every time in history when merchants have expanded their reach, we get closer and closer to global standards such as monetary systems, languages, and accepted transaction practices. Today, emerging nations with leaner infrastructures and fewer legacy approaches can often leapfrog to new methods and means faster that a developed country with entrenched preferences. It is going to be a very interesting time and a very daunting one for late adopters.