Virginia’s Reflections on the status quo of business
Are we still the masters of our businesses and lives?
The saying, “the world is in shambles”, becomes ever true for business transactions. Imagine you do your budgeting, you have an order intake, then the execution of the order, all is well planned, if there were not be some exogenous factors crossing your plans!
When we have a look over the past 12 months, there were so many unexpected things happening in the world, such as a global slowing of growth, the BREXIT in Great Britain, the refugees’ problem in Europe, the Presidential Elections in the US are in the final round, the economic and political crisis in Brazil, the military coup in Turkey and the resulting political uncertainty, the TTIP trade agreement seems to die, the never ending terrorist attacks, ect., etc.
In addition there is still the problem of counterfeit goods creating enormous global damage, there are patent frauds hurting intellectual property, tradenames and brands. Also a series of almost bankrupt companies and the ones deciding to give up in the global market place because of fierce competition, especially in the textile sector (spinning and weaving) because of the fierce competition from emerging countries’ production.
In recent days we took note of the fact that one of the largest shipping company of South Korea had to declare bankruptcy. We heard of a textile machinery manufacturer that only by chance, and at the last minute, a large delivery could be rebooked to another shipping company to deliver the goods on time. Even all of this is beyond control, we all live in riskier times and business environments. Deep down we feel that we are no longer able to autonomously control the companies’ existence, nor our own destiny.
IT development and mobility do add to these factors, think only of the autonomous driving cars, the control of social media concerns and their know-how to take sneaky avenues to spy on us in order to create excellent own business prospects, and to influence us on decisions. The Cloud seems to be the new solution for businesses, but the rules are not defined, and no one knows if the solutions offered are really safe. Hackers have developed their own existence and happily they make use of open doors in the IT system to make enormous money or trying to influence people’s decisions.
There is fraud on management floors bringing companies at the verge of disaster. Manipulation of qualities is another aspect of this. I remember when talking to a tycoon in Asia some years ago that the West should be afraid of a rising economic China, because they cheat on everything. For instance, serious companies are fulfilling standards and audits, whereas the Chinese do just buy the standard without facing up to their duties, thus leading to unfair practices and competition. As we all know, he was right to a certain extent.
Now we hear, that one of the largest textile companies in India is suspected to deliver goods to customers not conform with what it is labelled, thus investigations by customers are initiated and the entity delivering the golden label has to justify itself. Probably bribery is also involved.
Globalisation of trade has brought many positive things, but complicated the life of a company, because weaknesses are leading to a sudden death of enterprises, or larger capital needs lead to mergers and acquisitions in order to withstand the complex competitive world arena. However such matched marriages and differing cultures do not always lead to the goals planned. And developing and emerging countries are interpreting mentalities and business conduct in their own manner.
In essence, fraud, disloyalty, bribery, dishonesty seem to be the new ingredients of business resulting from globalisation. In addition, we became a litigious society, and politicans – many of them corrupt – decree new laws and rules (no longer frameworks, but abiding laws), adding to the exogenous factors influencing the lives of enterprises. Litigation to save money is also a common factor and costs can be tax deducted. Globalisation made companies and ourselves more even but also more hurtful and vulnerable.
Businesses are betting on continued innovation processes, individuals on life long education. All of this is costly and needs a never ending growth of business to back these expenses. Also, all of the unexpected, but to be expected, do we still manage that, or do we expect, that in the near future artificial self-learning intelligence will guide or control us. But also such systems can be corrupted or getting out of control. A friend of mine asked me: “Is nowadays the world only made of crooks, cronies and people connected to fraud, or is integrity as a person and in business a thing of our ancestors?
This question has to be answered by all of us, but I am afraid it is an obsolete question since we are all subject to what I described before and the “systems” take over and who is not participating will be soon locked out, is ousted or goes bankrupt.
Coming back to the first reflections above, how is it still possible to manage a business, a business field or a project when the exogenous factors are crossing your plans. Are you quick enough to react and in an honest way or will you be directed from outside, and controlled of a system? How can any business be run in decent manner… of course, this depends on your competitor or competitors and the market will dictate what you do! We live in a mean, money and growth driven and greedy world. Is this the last truth to operate to cope with the complexity of yet unknown factors? Is growth, maybe greener growth the only solution that justifies everything, and as long as enough money or other means are available? I invite YOU to allow me some answers! I am looking forward to your comments. Thank you.
Virginia F. Bodmer-Altura, Publisher