If there had been any doubt as to how quickly the global economic landscape - and the market perceptions of it - can change, it would have been erased by events during August and September 2015. Concerns about the Chinese economy and fretting over the next move by the U.S. Federal Reserve triggered massive global market volatility in stocks, commodity prices, and exchange rates. And that turmoil underscored a critical imperative: leaders of companies operating around the world need to move beyond old views and conventional wisdom as they set global strategies.
You feel the energy soon after disembarking at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka. All of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, seems to throb with bustling masses of people. Bridges, expressway overpasses, and major new neighborhoods are continually under construction. Evidence of the country's rising disposable income is on display at crowded shopping malls such as Jamuna Future Park, the largest in South Asia, and new billboards, which seem to cover every available space, advertise products as varied as packaged foods and smartphones.
Over the past few decades, the rise of emerging markets - initially as sources of cheap labor and then as rapidly growing consumer markets and centers of capital investment and innovation - has caused most companies of size and stature to enlarge their global ambitions. But despite this concerted push to globalize, few companies are ready to build and run truly global organizations and operations.
Despite a concerted push to expand their overseas presence in recent decades, few companies are ready to build and run truly global organizations and operations, according to a survey of executives conducted jointly by The Boston Consulting Group and IMD business school.
Through 2020, consumers in the interior regions of Brazil are expected to account for more than 45 percent of growth in the retail sector, or $60bn in new purchases. Yet few of the country's retailers are prepared to capitalize on this growth opportunity, largely because they've focused their efforts almost exclusively on Brazil's highly populated coastal cities, according to a report by The Boston Consulting Group and its Center for Consumer and Customer Insight entitled Capturing Retail Growth in Brazil's Rising Interior.
For the past decade, Mexico has been making quiet - but steady - economic progress. Overcoming a history of financial turbulence, the country has generated modest growth, maintained fiscal stability, and quickly recovered from the 2008-2009 global financial crisis. Mexico's gains, however, have yet to translate into the surge of consumer spending witnessed in several other big emerging markets. Indeed, despite an improving economy, roughly half of the Mexican households recently surveyed said that they plan to tighten their belts in the near future.
It is no longer a question of if but when autonomous vehicles (AVs) will hit the road. In the auto industry's most significant inflection in 100 years, vehicles with varying levels of self-driving capability - ranging from single-lane highway driving to autonomous valet parking to traffic jam autopilot - will start to become available to consumers as soon as mid-2015 or early 2016. Development of autonomous-driving technology is gaining momentum across a broad front that encompasses OEMs, suppliers, technology providers, academic institutions, municipal governments, and regulatory bodies.
Technological advances have driven dramatic increases in industrial productivity since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. The steam engine powered factories in the 19th Century, electrification led to mass production in the early part of the 20th Century, and industry became automated in the 1970s. In the decades that followed, however, industrial technological advancements were only incremental, especially compared with the breakthroughs that transformed IT, mobile communications, and e-commerce.
The internet already plays an indispensable role in the everyday life of billions. Yet the surface is only being scratched. The potential to bring new and more advantages to individuals around the world, and to benefit billions more people as they gain access, has few limits. Many of these benefits could have their biggest impact in emerging markets; unfortunately, these are the countries in which internet penetration and use often lag.