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Storytelling

The Economist End of Year feature interview

Daniel Franklin talks to ogilvydo about business predictions for 2013 – global economic challenges impacting Asia, implications of new leadership in China, rapidly changing Asian demographics, an Asian Silicon Valley, the BICIs rather than the BRICs, the internet transformation to a mainly mobile medium, opportunities for SMEs, exotic new markets…… and Gangnam Style.

Business leaders comment on Daniel Franklin’s interview

John GallaJohn Gallagher

Vice President, Marketing and Communications

IBM Growth Markets

“In terms of the ever increasing ‘mobile systems’, this is already having profound impact on our lives in both the personal and business aspects. The twin trends of increasing mobility and social media platforms, means that inadequacies, mis-steps or mis-truths are exposed and re-broadcast at extraordinary speeds relative to the past. We all must ask ourselves: are we properly prepared?”

In terms of the ever increasing ‘mobile systems’, this is already having profound impact on our lives in both the personal and business aspects. As we are now coming to this particular tipping point on internet access per Daniel’s prediction, it would indicate the inevitability to refresh much of the systems thinking of business and service of all types. Many systems in industries are designed with the thinking of ‘fixed access complimented by mobile’, but now the reality is to become the inverse. For any business or public body therefore the questions on security, availability, authentication, the readiness of their personnel to engage and such, take on even more importance. This is calling for a new paradigm of thinking and design, not only the following of incremental steps from ‘fixed’ to a ‘fixed-mobile’ world.

Of course this mobility is also driving a much increased speed and volume of content (and data also of course). Especially in terms of content, the necessity to be absolutely true to one’s beliefs and value propositions at all times has never been so important. The twin trends of increasing mobility and social media platforms, means that inadequacies, mis-steps or mis-truths are exposed and re-broadcast at extraordinary speeds relative to the past. We all must ask ourselves: are we properly prepared? Daniel’s thoughts here are right on target.

Vivek

Vivek Mathur
Chief Commercial Officer
Vodafone India

“Many organisations are putting the cost squeeze on their European operations, and simultaneously looking to emerging markets to drive growth. Good content rules regardless of media. The Internet world allows for micro-segmenting and sophistication of content as per segment insights. Creativity is language, culture and time agnostic. It is a state of being.”

I agree with Daniel that the investment climate is uncertain across the world, but in my view, Asia continues to be a safer bet as the economic growth in these countries is likely to be faster and based on fundamental socio-economic factors.

In many multinational businesses, the slowdown in Europe is a real reason to look east. Many organisations are putting the cost squeeze on their European operations, and simultaneously looking to emerging markets to drive growth. So I would not completely agree that there is increased inward focus, across the board.

Daniel is right that there is no question that the growth of the Internet especially in the emerging world is going to be led by the mobile medium. In India, mobile phones are by far the primary medium for communication and will enable internet access to hundreds of millions even over the next couple of years.

We are keen to drive this wave. There is already rapid organic growth of the mobile Internet. There are still barriers like availability of local language content, device access and prices. We are working on making sure that the price of access to the internet does not stay a barrier. We are also keen on driving the relevance of internet through education across consumer segments.

He’s absolutely right regarding content. Good content rules regardless of media. The Internet world allows for micro-segmenting and sophistication of content as per segment insights. Brands, organisations, content creators who are in touch with their consumer segments when they create content, will create high quality content.

Creativity is always relevant and will be so in 2013 also. Creativity is language, culture and time agnostic. It is a state of being. It needs to be applied even more in challenging situations as creative problem solving often leads to Innovation.

CV

Chandramouli Venkatesan
Director – Snacking, India & Strategy, South Asia & Indo-China
Cadbury

“2013 will call for increasing creativity. We have a set of forces at play ; discerning consumers, increased and radical competition and an sluggish uncertain economic environment with event risks. all content has to be redesigned to suit the mobile screen. Is a lavish production with high special effects of value in the future if it gets consumed in the small screen. Is a picture heavy website going to download fast and enable easy navigation? Content will have to be redesigned.”

I also believe that the Internet world will be increasingly mobile. That has a set of implications:

  1. Firstly all content has to be redesigned to suit the mobile screen. Is a lavish production with high special effects of value in the future if it gets consumed in the small screen. Is a picture heavy website going to download fast and enable easy navigation? Content will have to be redesigned
  2. Location specific content will become important. Helping people to shop at the store, content that alleviates boredom when waiting etc.

2013 will call for increasing creativity. We have a set of forces at play; discerning consumers, increased and radical competition and a sluggish uncertain economic environment with event risks. To succeed in this context will call for creativity to create significant consumer value, to compete against known and unknown competitors and to ride out economic swings with high adaptability.

Rohit

Rohit Jawa
Senior Vice President – Global Marketing Operations,
Unilever

“I agree with Daniel that the traditional model was one of adaptive innovation, where Asia followed ideas created in the west and adapted them with higher speed and lower cost. However, this model is turning upside down as Asia develops leading edge expertise in bottom up pyramid innovations (such as the Arvind Eye Care model in India etc.) and these learnings are being reverse transferred by companies such as ours to compete with more affordable prices in the West.”

Picking up on Daniel Franklin’s comments on the economic uncertainty. We live in a VUCA world (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous). In this context we need to be agile, dynamic and adaptive with our specific business plans in specific markets. However, the secular trend of sustained growth in emerging markets and economic stress in developed markets as guidance to the business strategy will apply to 2013 as well. This 2 speed world does offer immense opportunity as the people in emerging markets improve their living standards and enter new categories, while at the same time the nimble players will learn to leverage the economic crisis in the developed markets as an opportunity to strengthen competitive presence by offering relevant value to the consumers.

He talked about the economic imperatives being drivers of policy even in transitions. China is very likely to put even higher emphasis on the consumption theme. This can only be good for consumer businesses such as ours, especially as we have major head space for growth in all our categories.

I agree with Daniel that the traditional model was one of adaptive innovation, where Asia followed ideas created in the west and adapted them with higher speed and lower cost. However, this model is turning upside down as Asia develops leading edge expertise in bottom up pyramid innovations (such as the Arvind Eye Care model in India etc.) and these learning’s are being reverse transferred by companies such as ours to compete with more affordable prices in the West. Also, China is focused on creating a large scientific patents base; it’s a matter of few decades where the new hubs for innovation like Bangalore, Singapore and Shanghai will compete with global best from the west.

Could Asia replicate Silicon Valley? It’s very unlikely that the exact cocktail of Silicon Valley will be replicated as the ecosystem is unique as far as digital innovation is concerned. However, it’s possible that the Asia may see the evolution of other innovation ecosystems that serve new platforms such as Biosciences in Singapore or low cost medical services in India.

I agree with Daniel on the mobility issue. The world already has 6 billion mobile connections and Asia is half of that, it’s a matter of time that internet able devices become as mass penetrated as mobile connectivity.

At Unilever we recognize mega trend of digitization as having huge impact on media consumption and connectivity of our consumers. We are working hard to equip our people, systems and processes to be capable of exploiting this opportunity.

Ideas make the world go around. Creativity in the business is now even bigger multiplier given the speed with which ideas travel and get adapted around the world.

 

Transcript Ogilvydo interview with Daniel Franklin, Executive Editor of the Economist 27 November 2012

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