Emerging markets have driven growth for many multinational corporations (MNCs) for years, and they will continue to do so. But these are turbulent times as commodity prices plunge, currencies are devalued, and equity markets gyrate. The profitability of many MNCs' operations is already under attack, and future performance will be challenged by slower macroeconomic growth, increasing costs, and heightened competition from local companies, which are rapidly gaining scale, experience, and capability. To reduce these pressures, companies will have to focus much more on improving their competitiveness through constant productivity gains.
For the last 50 years, the world economy has benefited from a demographic boom that has contributed 1.8 percent to average annual global GDP increases, helping to generate an unprecedented level of growth. This demographic headwind is coming to an end.
The World Trade Organization has slashed its forecast for world trade growth in 2014 to 3.1 percent, citing weaker-than-expected gross domestic product growth and muted import demand in the first half of the year.
Despite the vital role that technology plays in helping companies manage the complexity and volatility in global operations, only 48 percent of the more than 1,000 global companies surveyed for an Accenture study use technology extensively in their emerging market supply chains.
Across Asia and the Middle East, rising incomes and accelerating investment in infrastructure have attracted multinationals eager to expand their global presence. But success in these high-growth emerging markets (HGEMs) often proves elusive.
These are challenging times for emerging markets. China's economy is expanding at the slowest pace in more than a decade, and annual growth in once-booming nations like Brazil, Mexico, Russia, and South Africa has slowed to about 1.5 to 2.5 percent. Look around the developing world, and currencies are weakening, worries about asset bubbles and rising debt are mounting, and foreign direct investment has fallen sharply. This volatility leaves many companies wondering if they are overexposed to the risks of emerging markets.
With the advent of big data, faster computing and intuitive analysis tools, the promise of analytics has generated a renewed focus on improving operations through data-driven decisions. For supply chain organizations in particular, it is a powerful ally in driving cost reduction strategies and service level improvements. From public sector entities like Lincolnshire, which identified Â£24m in procurement savings, to retail giants like Tesco, which reduced Â£50m in excess inventory, organizations across the globe are achieving substantial impact by applying analytics to their operations. But what about emerging markets?
Mexican bread maker Bimbo. Chinese electronics brand Haier. Taiwanese computer manufacturer Acer. A decade ago, those companies were largely dismissed by their larger, U.S. competitors. Now, they have taken over the lead in global market share in their respective industries. Can U.S. companies learn from their successes?