Ignoring the World?




Photo credit: Bastografie / photocase.com

Recently, Robin Bew, Chief Economist in the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), the research division of The Economist magazine, posted the results of an EIU survey of large businesses.

With such a complex system as the world economy, I always have my doubts as to how useful research like this is, but an interesting statistic called out was:

Companies today earn a third of their revenues from overseas. In two years time that figure will have grown to 60%.

This information impacts the way I’m currently advising clients in at least two ways:

  • If digital media is the primary marketing/communication vehicle world wide, and 33-60% of your revenue is likely to come from sources other than your own country, and therefore that media is likely to be consumed (in the case of US-based companies) in some other language than English… do you have a strategy to support multi-lingual content? At all? Without excessive costs and time delays for translation and localization? If not, what revenue, cost, and competitive opportunities are you missing?
    • Due to crowdsourcing techniques, and better, faster, cheaper and more directly integrated translation technology/workflow, it has never been easier to address this opportunity – but it does require the existing technical infrastructure and business-savvy to put together an intelligent content pipeline. If you have not looked into this in the last few years, you will be astonished by what is possible and at what price tag.
  • Consumer and business behavior is not the same, worldwide. With an innovation hat on, do you really understand the needs of your ultimate customers, wherever they may live? Are your “innovations” user and need focused? (rather than product/company-focused, or “purely” demographics-focused)
    • Adoption of mobile technology, for example, and “smartphones” specifically, tends to lead in the United States, even though the cellular networks of the US lag behind other countries that have significantly greater (and cheaper) internet speeds. (This according to contacts I have in telecom – non-publishable/citeable stats).
    • Serving mobile customers (or employees, partners, suppliers) is still a dramatically underserved area – whether a smartphone or a “dumb” phone. There are many opportunities to think out of the retail store “box” (quite literally the “big box” stores), and traditional non-interactive media. Customer engagement, service, satisfaction, price-checking, order checking, etc., is still quite disconnected from the online vs. offline experience – even 15 years after the rise of the web. There is a real opportunity to leap beyond ignorance of the full power of the web on the desktop, and straight into the much faster growing world of mobile content and applications.

Have you looked far enough to see and act on these opportunities?

Whether you believe the rest of the macroeconomic and microeconomic predictions/analysis of The Economist or any other source – I don’t see any easy way to ignore the two above trends. Almost every inquiry which has come in to us in the last few months has been explicitly focused on these two areas – and the convergence/integration of these trends into the siloed infrastructure that most organizations have in place.

Converging and integrating to set the stage for rapid growth opportunities seems to finally be a consensus opportunity to power out of the economic troubles of the last 1-2 years (depending on industry and location). Both the cutting edge adopters and the laggards are running as fast as they can to take advantage of these opportunities… is your organization?

No Strategy = Less (No?) Opportunity

Are you ready? What have you done to prepare? Seen compelling reasons *not* to look at multi-lingual or mobile implications for your organization?

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