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Business gets a call to take up the revolution

 

WITH deregulation, globalisation and digitalisation forcing their way into the global economy, it has never been a better time for small companies to revolutionise the world; nor has it ever been more dangerous for incumbent companies to remain complacent.

This was the main thrust of a presentation by Gary Hamel, a visiting professor at London Business School, at the ''Fortune Global Forum: Sustaining the Miracle", where he drew applause for his insight into the changing global environment, which challenges fundamental business thinking.

Hamel said one did not have to go far to see how Microsoft, Netscape or Body Shop, which were relatively new companies years ago, have come to revolutionise the business world through their technological breakthroughs and focused strategies as they gained market share.

He said throughout the world, from the United States and Europe to Japan, countries are struggling to ward off unemployment and it is necessary for re-inventing or innovation to come into play to improve competitiveness.

Hamel foresees bright prospects for growth in the Asia-Pacific region, which now accounts for a significant portion of the global trade.

However, he said the dynamic growth of the past cannot be taken for granted because to continue to sustain economic well-being, countries in the region will have to become globally competitive.

He cited the example of Argentina, which was once one of the fastest-growing economies in the world but which has been slackening with almost no growth over the past decade.

With southern China growing at more than 10 per cent and the northern part experiencing hardly any growth, Hamel said he was not sure whether one could talk about a country any more in terms of economic growth, but one may have to talk about a specific region.

In the first phase of their economic development, newly industrialised economies such as Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea encountered few obstacles in their pursuit of high growth.

However, Hamel said the more important question is how these countries and other emerging countries can sustain their growth as they move into the next century.

It is no longer sufficient to dwell on the old thinking of improving efficiency in manufacturing or the workforce, but countries or companies must instead focus on how to turn themselves into globally competitive players, Hamel suggested.

''Asia must be innovative to stay competitive. They are the best students," he said.

 

BY THANONG KHANTHONG

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