When the price of oil dropped and some of the companies that usually sign contracts with us decided to postpone them, my first reaction was panic. It’s always the first reaction, for all of us.
And then reality sets in and we embrace the challenges in front of us. We “adjust” and make the moves necessary. My thoughts around that time were, “Hang on a minute now, where there is a breakdown, there is a breakthrough, so what is it?”
I set in motion a fast turn around within my organization. Publisher of The OGM, I had built this magazine from the ground up 25 years ago. It was in jeopardy of losing all those years of gains, and I felt the strain and stress as I feared it all coming to a crashing end.
It was sink or swim. So I restructured, revamped, realigned and embraced every possible innovation that I could find in the business world – on Google. I could never have predicted the results. In fact, due to advances in global digital communication, results were better than predicted.
Today my company has “no employees” and yet it has over 100 contractors locally and from around the globe. There is no physical company address, but rather a company that operates in the clouds and one in which I can now operate from any place in the world – successfully and profitably. The OGM circulation and content engagement is higher than we ever thought possible just a few short years ago. Numbers are in the millions upon millions of energy impressions online and our global base of readers has expanded in unprecedented ways. All that happened because of the advancement of communication, technology and this era of globalization.
I share this with you not because I want to brag about our business but rather because of its access to new possibilities for business. We think the world is falling down around us but when we step back and take a much broader look, it is “change” that is knocking at the door. It may come in the form of low oil prices, or difficult times or tragedy, or layoffs, or new situations – but it’s actually just change happening. Answer that door.
Globalization is happening. The world is becoming our trading market and never in history has it been so easy to access global talent, global technology, global innovation and global resources. We live in amazing times and capitalism is escalating exponentially as a result of the information age.
Globalization may be defined as the integration of the world’s people, firms and government for the purpose of collaborative growth and advancement. It is the “one world” concept that is uniting us through an open market. If there was ever a hope of understanding each other and supporting each other it is through globalization. As we globalize and nationalities mix, barriers come down and understanding and integration rises, creating what Marshall McLuhan called the “Global Village.” Globalization may just be the one thing that will finally do the unobtainable: end wars.
While Globalization is not a new phenomenon, it is exponentially speeding up because of improved trade, capital mobility and strong advances in technology and global communication. We have become globetrotters with the advancement of air travel and other means. Trade is cheaper because of container ships and global imports. The world is becoming a smaller and smaller place. What once took us a month to travel now takes us a day. Forty years from now it will take hours and minutes and eventually travel is predicted to be instantaneous. Can you imagine it? Are you ready for it?
Globalization will impact your business at every touch point. With online marketing and Google search, your company can be found by buyers in parts of the world that you didn’t even know existed, let alone had identified as a target market.
The new business market leaves us with the possibility of the great unknown and now selling is found in the “pull” economy online, rather than the old model of “push” sales, which is a thing of the past. Global selling is a completely different game in a completely different world. Our new business development goal is to harness it.
Globalization will impact your HR needs and solutions. It will open up your vendor and sales possibilities and it will dramatically impact your supply base. Communication will advance and accelerate, lowering costs and time for each business transaction. Financial models will change, and with increased opportunities, profit can also increase through globalization.
People are more willing to move between different countries in search for work. Global trade remittances now play a large role in transfers from developed countries to developing countries. Specialized HR firms are waiting to solve your HR needs around the globe, and a global supply of online freelancers offers skills and talent at a fraction of the cost. Most probably, your job no longer is about finding the right hire but finding the right solution for your hire.
Online platforms like Upwork are global work-based platforms that provide contract workers in the area of administration, web development, marketing, communications, project management, finance and the list goes on. When you consider the costs of hiring full-time, benefits, vacation pay and payroll remittances, this is an attractive alternative.
We have become a transnational economy. Especially in the energy sector, multinational companies work in energy cities around the globe. All of this coupled with a reduction in national barriers through the European Union, NAFTA and ASEAN and the work of WTO (World Trade Organization) make the business around the globe not only a possibility but a pleasure. This means that a business that had previously only sold its goods domestically can start selling products to other countries.
The global auto industry boomed as geographical boundaries came down and the Berlin Wall fell, meaning those in communist countries now had access to cars, further transport, and expansive markets. And then there’s China, the place where “Made in China” has become a household brand in and of itself. Labour is cheap, products are useful and profits increase when work is outsourced to the Chinese. In India, a technological revolution is happening with call centres expanding, Internet web developers booming and previously expensive IT solutions offered at a fraction of the cost.
And then there are companies like Alibaba Group Holding Limited, which change the game entirely. Alibaba is a Chinese e-commerce company that provides consumer-to-consumer, business-to-consumer and business-to-business sales services via web portals. In this fully integrated model, you don’t even need a physical location – everything is sold online with an easy-to-use electronic payment service. This shopping search engine and data-centric cloud computing service has revolutionized the Chinese economy and supports small business in unprecedented ways.
Jack Ma founded the website alibaba.com, and he succeeded in connecting Chinese manufacturers with overseas buyers. In 2012, two of Alibaba’s portals handled $170 billion in sales. On 19 September 2014, Alibaba’s market value was US $231 billion. Alibaba sought an IPO in the United States, which raised US $25 billion, making it the largest IPO in global trading history. Alibaba’s consumer-to-consumer portal Taobao, similar to eBay.com, features nearly a billion products and is one of the 20 most-visited websites globally. The group’s websites accounted for over 60% of the parcels delivered in China by March 2013 and 80% of the nation’s online sales by September 2014. This is the business model of the future.
Jack Ma in his letter to Alibaba Group shareholders said, “Our biggest challenge is not our competition, but our ability to grasp the future and manage ourselves. With our ambitious vision and unique ecosystem, we need professional talents from different fields, a unique culture and an organization that can adapt to future developments. Our colossal business ecosystem and intertwined structure will require not just more corporate managers, but leaders, innovators, and trailblazers. This is a tremendous challenge for a 16-year-old company with a workforce with an average age of only 29. There is almost no reference to us when we develop our talents, corporate culture, management model, and the relationship between our business units and government departments. As a young company, we are committed to a mighty challenge, one that’s unprecedented and beyond the imagination. But this is a golden opportunity. We have told ourselves over the past 16 years: If not now, when? If not us, who?”
Alibaba is not the only company making these kinds of global gains. Amazon, Facebook, eBay and others are revolutionizing global commerce. Just think about it: we’ve only just begun. The possibilities are endless. Where does your company fit into the global sales portal?
Oil and gas supply base companies will be looking for solutions that support marketing “and sales” in the same transaction rather than having a disconnect as we have seen in the past. No longer will marketing supplies be acceptable without sales. This is the future.
Improved technology is undoubtedly the key to globalization. Without technologies such as the Internet and global communication, it would not have been possible to witness the increased interdependence of companies and countries worldwide.
Email is instant. A video is even better. Websites are worldwide. The communication tools of the future include these tools and much more. The digital revolution is proving to be a vast and a highly-targeted, strategic play.
Never before have you been able to say, “I’d like to target all of ExxonMobil employees with my marketing message,” and make it happen online. This is now possible. As well, aggregated content has allowed for stories to be searched by personal interest and found all over the globe – meaning companies can now communicate with unprecedented engagement. For example one of The OGM stories on energy independence in Canada (LINK) last week, fetched over 2.5 million impressions online. Given the story was about energy and related only to Canada, limiting its appeal, that number of impressions (2.5 million) is off the charts. And we’ve only just begun.
International development, as a consequence of globalization, arises out of a combination of both expanded markets as well as cheaper resources. A prime example of this is India. Before the late ’90s, the information technology sector in India was largely in its infancy. However, coupled with an educated-yet-inexpensive workforce, foreign companies were able to start subsidiaries of high-tech activities in cities like Bangalore. This technological know-how spread to local firms, which in turn grew as a result of expanded markets both in India as well as the rest of the world.
Business development became a global play virtually overnight with the onset of the Internet. If you are an oil company, major contractor or supplier with differing objectives, the Internet still allows you to execute at entirely new levels.
Given the downturn in oil price and the economic climate of recent years, the opportunity to diversify and build business and sales in new regions is a welcome solution. As well, selling worldwide is fascinating, making the global selling market attractive to us all.
The world of business development advances at the speed of technology and it’s going to stay that way. The new model of business is more about having clients come to you rather than pushing what you’re selling “at them.” So the power of sales in the digital era is being an expert at client search, client interest, client value and client appeal – all online. And do it first, before they even decide to engage with you. It’s a new day and a new game.
Globalization will either be the thing we embrace or the thing we ignore. I’m betting on the currency of the future is global competence and functionality. What differentiates us from others will be how powerfully we embrace technology, how global-savvy we become, how much we embrace new and emerging markets, and how willing we are to go where we have never gone before. Like voyagers, globalization offers us new lands to discover.
Thomas Friedman said, “Now we’ve entered Globalization 3.0, and it is shrinking the world from size small to size tiny.”
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