Winning Business in the World Economy

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By Jovita Carranza *

Dec 7, 2004, 12:51

Globalization — the human desire to trade with one another — is as natural a force as the wind. Consider this: In the last five years, we've seen acts of terrorism, a war, and various health threats.  None of it, however, has stopped world commerce. Global trade continues to move forward, but not without its challenges — technological and otherwise.

A decade ago, we started hearing about the emergence of the Information Superhighway. Today, we must look beyond that concept to the metaphorical equivalent of a "global interstate highway system" capable of transporting goods, information, and funds with speed, precision, and security. This global system involves the total convergence of the "virtual" world of information technology with the physical worlds of transportation and finance. 

Simply put, we're talking about the synchronization of boxes (goods), bytes (information about the goods), and bucks (funds paying for the goods). But, we haven't arrived yet at this level of "synchronized"

global commerce. There are still obstacles in our path. Geopolitical uncertainties, fear, financial issues, insufficient infrastructure, trade restrictions, disparate technology standards, and cumbersome customs procedures are just a few of the roadblocks we face. Yet, for the sake of our ongoing competitiveness as a nation, we must get past these obstacles. How?

Our job as business leaders is to encourage an environment that allows global commerce to move forward in a way that benefits all members of the world trade community. At UPS, we believe that communities can better position themselves for the world of synchronized commerce by keeping their eyes on four major trends.

  1. Global economic development. Officials in communities around the world are working to attract global businesses. U.S. communities should be doing the same.
  1. Intelligence infrastructure. Maintaining roads, bridges, harbors, and airports is critical in attracting new businesses, but the communities that are installing cable, fiber, cellular, and satellite infrastructures will land new global businesses.
  1. Sustainable development. Communities that are economically healthy and establish sustainable development practices attract new businesses.But, it doesn't end there. In order to attract a highly qualified labor pool, it's just as important to be environmentally and socially healthy.
  1. Regionalism. In a global economy, communities that capitalize on the collective strengths of their regions will fare better than those who go it alone. The adage, "United we stand. Divided we fall." rings very true against the backdrop of a competitive global landscape.

American economist and educator Lester Thurow said a competitive world has two possibilities for you: You can lose. Or, if you want to win, you can change. My experience with UPS in markets outside the United States has validated the wisdom of these words.

I have learned you need to leave many of your preconceived notions behind and adopt or adapt to local culture, economic market realties, and the myriad of customs requirements and government regulations.  More important, you need to rely on the talent and leadership of local citizenry to help grow and manage your business. To do otherwise is to contribute to your own failure.

In short, the global commerce journey is not an easy one. Yet, if you follow the simple concept "adapt and adopt," your chances for success are much greater. Further, a community that embraces globalization, technology, education, and sustainable development is a community that will stand strong in the world economy.

*Jovita Carranza is the vice president of Air Operations for UPS.

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