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How Digital Transformation is Redefining Global Business Operations 

How Digital Transformation is Redefining Global Business Operations 

Is your business ready for the digital revolution reshaping the global market?

In the current fast-paced business environment, embracing digital transformation has become essential. Driven by advanced technologies, this shift is fundamentally changing the way companies function, compete, and achieve success. Moving from conventional methods to digital strategies is transforming various industry landscapes, highlighting the importance of adaptability for thriving in the market.

Central to this revolution are technologies like cloud computing, AI, automation, and digital marketing, each playing a pivotal role in creating new opportunities and challenges. As we delve deeper, we’ll explore how these digital advancements are not merely enhancing efficiency but are also driving innovation and competitive advantage in a globally connected market. From enhancing operational agility to personalizing customer experiences, digital transformation is the cornerstone of modern business strategy.

This journey into the digital world is not just about adopting technology; it’s about fundamentally reshaping business models to thrive in the digital age. Let’s uncover how embracing this digital shift can propel businesses into a future of unparalleled growth and innovation.

Acceleration of Cloud Computing and Data Analytics

The swift rise and widespread adoption of cloud computing mark a transformative era in business operations, emphasizing its critical role in enhancing both operational efficiency and scalability. Cloud computing stands out for its adaptability and cost savings, providing businesses with the ability to scale resources as needed without heavy investment in physical infrastructure. This flexibility is invaluable for both small and large companies, enabling rapid adaptation to market changes or emerging opportunities, potentially leading to improved EPS figures over time by optimizing operational costs and expanding market reach.

Cloud platforms have become pivotal for data analytics and handling large data sets. Storing and processing extensive data in the cloud allows businesses to delve into analytics, yielding valuable insights into customer behavior, market trends, and internal operational areas needing improvement. These insights are integral to making well-informed decisions, customizing marketing efforts, and refining products or services.

Moreover, the synergy of big data and cloud computing is transforming how businesses interact with customers. Personalized customer experiences, such as tailored product recommendations in online retail or customized content in digital media services, are now possible at an unprecedented scale thanks to cloud-enabled data analysis.

The real-time data processing capabilities of cloud platforms are essential in today’s fast-moving business environment. The capacity to make swift, data-informed decisions gives companies a competitive edge, facilitating prompt adjustments in strategy driven by up-to-the-minute insights.

To sum up, the emergence of cloud computing, coupled with data analytics, signifies a major transformation in the way businesses function. It brings about enhanced operational efficiency, greater scalability, and a deeper comprehension of customer needs.

Adoption of AI and Automation

The integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation into business processes has marked a pivotal shift in the landscape of productivity, efficiency, and innovation. AI and automation are not just futuristic concepts but practical tools reshaping how businesses operate across various sectors.

AI’s impact on productivity is profound. Automated systems and AI-driven algorithms can handle repetitive tasks, freeing human employees to focus on more complex and creative aspects of their jobs. This shift not only boosts productivity but also enhances job satisfaction by removing mundane tasks from the daily workload.

In terms of efficiency, AI is revolutionizing data management and document processing. AI-powered document analysis tools are capable of parsing large volumes of data with a precision and speed unattainable by human efforts alone. These tools can extract relevant information, categorize documents, and even identify trends and patterns. This level of accuracy and efficiency in handling data significantly reduces errors and speeds up decision-making processes.

Various industries are leveraging AI in unique ways. In healthcare, AI algorithms assist in diagnosing diseases and personalizing treatment plans. In finance, AI is used for risk assessment and fraud detection, analyzing vast amounts of transaction data to identify anomalies. The retail sector employs AI for inventory management and customer behavior analysis, enhancing the shopping experience through personalized recommendations.

AI is also transforming manufacturing with predictive maintenance. By analyzing data from machinery, AI can predict equipment failures before they occur, reducing downtime and maintenance costs. In the field of logistics, AI optimizes routes and delivery schedules, improving efficiency in supply chain management.

AI and automation are not just enhancing existing business processes; they are opening doors to new levels of innovation and efficiency. From streamlining mundane tasks to providing critical insights, AI is a key driver in the modern business world, propelling industries towards a more efficient and innovative future.

The Shift Towards E-Commerce and Digital Marketing

The transformation towards e-commerce has significantly reshaped the retail industry, deeply influencing both traditional retail methods and the global market. The surge in online shopping has altered consumer habits, pushing businesses to adopt a digital-first strategy. E-commerce’s appeal lies in its convenience and the wider array of choices for consumers, while also opening new avenues for businesses to extend their reach globally.

Traditional retail has been greatly impacted by this digital transition, prompting physical stores to innovate and blend online elements into their traditional models. The emergence of e-commerce has spurred a shift towards omnichannel strategies, emphasizing the need for a seamless blend of online and offline customer experiences to attract and retain clientele.

Advancements in digital technology, illustrated by the rise of real-time trade alerts, have become crucial for businesses. These alerts offer immediate insights into market trends, allowing businesses to quickly react to shifts in market conditions and consumer preferences. The ability to respond rapidly is increasingly important in a business world where timing is key to influencing sales and customer engagement.

In line with these shifts, digital marketing strategies have evolved to be more data-centric and dependent on real-time analysis. Utilizing advanced analytics, digital marketing now enables more precise and individualized campaigns. Companies can track customer interactions across various digital channels, obtaining insights into customer likes and behaviors. This approach of using data allows for the crafting of more effective, personalized marketing initiatives, boosting both engagement and conversion rates.

Furthermore, digital marketing today transcends mere advertising. It’s about nurturing customer relationships, providing value through tailored content, and interacting with them across various digital platforms. This comprehensive strategy is crucial for fostering brand loyalty and staying competitive in the digital marketplace.

Ultimately, the move towards e-commerce and digital marketing signifies a critical shift in how companies handle sales and customer interactions, with strategies rooted in data and real-time insights being essential for successful digital commerce.

Cybersecurity in the Age of Digital Transformation

In today’s digitally driven business environment, the significance of cybersecurity has surged, becoming a critical element in protecting sensitive information and upholding ongoing business operations. As businesses become more reliant on digital technologies, the urgency to implement strong cybersecurity defenses grows to counteract the rising tide of cyber threats.

Cybersecurity’s role in the digital landscape is crucial. Digital security risks pose a threat to sensitive information and can interfere with a business’s fundamental activities. A lone incident of a security breach can inflict significant monetary damage, damage the business’s image, and cause legal ramifications. Consequently, protecting online assets and client information is now a critical priority for all companies.

Adopting a layered approach to cybersecurity is one of the best practices for businesses. This starts with training employees, as human error can often be a weak link. Educating staff about recognizing phishing schemes, enforcing robust password protocols, and emphasizing the necessity of regular software updates can dramatically lower risk exposure.

Ensuring network security is also vital, encompassing the use of firewalls, encryption methods, and VPNs for secure remote access. Conducting frequent security audits can help in pinpointing and strengthening potential weak spots.

Another key aspect is data protection. This involves employing data encryption techniques, securing data storage, and establishing firm data management policies. Moreover, having an effective data backup strategy is crucial for data recovery in case of a cyber incident.

It is crucial to actively monitor for threats using technologies such as intrusion detection systems and anti-malware software, to enable early identification and reaction to security risks. Additionally, organizations must establish a clear plan for incident response to swiftly address any security breaches that occur.

Keeping abreast of the latest cyber threats and trends is another important practice, as cybersecurity is a continuously evolving field. Staying informed about new security technologies and threat intelligence is vital in strengthening defenses against emerging cyber threats.

In conclusion, as digital transformation advances, the importance of cybersecurity in protecting sensitive data and ensuring uninterrupted business operations has become more pronounced. It’s essential for businesses to employ comprehensive, forward-thinking cybersecurity strategies to maintain customer trust and safeguard their digital ecosystem.


In today’s world, where digital transformation is rapidly reshaping the business environment, embracing technologies like cloud computing, AI, and digital marketing has become indispensable for any business focused on staying ahead. These advancements have revolutionized operational processes, opening new paths for growth and enhanced customer interaction.

Yet, this technological evolution brings its own set of challenges, especially in cybersecurity. Ensuring the safety of sensitive information and sustaining uninterrupted business operations in an era of increasing digital threats is imperative. Adopting proactive and vigilant cybersecurity measures is not just a necessity but a critical strategy for modern businesses.

Ultimately, navigating the path of digital transformation is an ongoing journey, filled with opportunities for growth and challenges to overcome. By strategically embracing these technological changes, businesses can unlock the potential offered by digital advancements, leading to innovation and sustained success in a competitive marketplace.

Podcast cover - GT Podcasts Episode 12 - Going Global Live Expo

GT Podcast – Community Connection Series – Episode 12 – Going Global Live Expo

In today’s episode of Community Connection, we speak with Going Global Live’s Event Director, Reggie Chard, to learn about a trade show that is truly taking over the world.  We will see why someone should attend and how someone could benefit from exhibiting.  We are also going to take a look at the importance of globalization in our world economy.

For more information on Going Global Live,  visit

Check out more of our GT Podcast – Community Connection Series here!

rebate management

Why Enterprise Resource Planning Systems Fall Short with Rebate Management

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems allow companies to integrate many disparate elements of their business on a single centralized platform – from human resources to supply chain logistics to financial data. While this level of centralization can create operational efficiencies, the breadth of functionality offered by ERP systems also make them less effective when it comes to handling more specialized aspects of your business.

For example, when companies need to design, track, and execute rebate agreements, ERP systems come up short. This is because rebates can be highly complex and dynamic – to manage them productively, companies need purpose-built software that will help them maintain transparency internally and with trading partners, identify where rebate programs can be improved, and react to changes in markets and distribution dynamics. ERP systems allow companies to record the rebates they’re owed, but not much else.

Although many companies get by with the rudimentary rebate management tools offered by ERP systems, supported in parallel by spreadsheets and other off-system tracking, the usefulness of these tools breaks down with complex incentive-based rebate programs and an ever-increasing drive for rebates to stimulate the business growth they were implemented for in the first place. Dedicated rebate management systems, on the other hand, are designed around the needs of complex and dynamic rebate programs, helping companies build more sustainable relationships with one another by giving them a wider range of options and the resources they need to communicate and collaborate in real-time.

How to manage complexity

Global supply chains have never been more complex than they are today – they’re more interconnected, they serve larger and increasingly diverse markets, and they often require vast logistical infrastructure to function. A 2020 survey found that 91 percent of businesses say they “can’t stay ahead of their supply chain complexities.” As if this task wasn’t already difficult enough, COVID-19 threw the global economy into chaos overnight, snapping crucial links in supply chains, straining relationships between manufacturers and distributors, and forcing consumers to deal with delays and unpredictable cost fluctuations.

One of the reasons rebates exist is to account for uncertainty – from economic shocks to shifting consumer demands. They retroactively bring volume, pricing and payments into line with projections, incentivizing trading partners to continue investing in one another. The more contingencies rebates can account for, the easier it will be for companies to predict future conditions and adapt when they change. This is why there are hundreds of different types of rebate agreements – they can be based on seasonality, sales targets, marketing commitments, the performance of specific product lines, and a range of other variables.

Many rebate agreements also change annually (or more frequently) to spur growth and react to market changes as they arise. These are all reasons why these agreements can be surprisingly intricate, which makes ERP systems blunt instruments for managing them.

Increasing efficiency and agility

ERP systems are all about efficiency – by bringing a wide range of business processes (from workflow solutions to communication tools) together on a single platform, these systems are designed to consolidate information, facilitate cooperation, and streamline a company’s processes across the board. This sounds particularly attractive to company leaders in the supply chain sector, who are hyper-cognizant of any opportunity to increase efficiency. An EY survey found that 55 percent of companies expect digitization to improve operational supply chain efficiency (the second-most-cited option) over the next three years.

But can ERP systems really increase the efficiency and effectiveness of B2B rebate programs? By failing to account for a wide enough range of variables and providing little in the way of real-time flexibility, these systems aren’t the drivers of business growth that companies need. According to Gartner, 89 percent of supply chain professionals want to invest in agility. This is what specialized rebate management solutions provide by giving companies the chance to get creative with the negotiation and implementation of deals, adjust those deals as circumstances change, and track every stage of the process on a platform that was built specifically for handling rebates.

When companies rely on ERP systems that can’t accommodate their rebate needs, they’re forced to use other forms of documentation and manual logistics management, such as spreadsheets. This can lead to costly errors and wasted time – hardly the efficiency companies are after.

Building stronger relationships between supply chain partners

Rebates help companies forge stronger relationships by allowing them to negotiate deals that satisfy both parties and giving them the freedom to alter the provisions of those deals as circumstances dictate. Dedicated rebate management platforms provide mechanisms to ensure transparency and accountability, more robust contract management, and the ability to manage hundreds of different types of rebates.

According to a recent Enable survey, more than one-third of companies say they still use spreadsheets to document, share, and sign off on deals. This doesn’t just lead to mistakes, backtracking, delays, and a series of other logistical problems – it can also be detrimental to relationships, as it requires partners to dig through scattered documents and search records that haven’t been properly systematized whenever a dispute or any other issue arises. ERP systems are typically transaction-centric, while rebate management systems make the process of creating, approving, and tracking deals an ongoing collaborative process with dedicated workflow and communication tools.

ERP systems have a clear role to play in helping companies become more productive, which is why rebate management solutions can be directly integrated with them. But rebate management is a highly specialized field – it requires digital tools that are specifically designed to manage complexity, improve supply chain flexibility, and build healthy and sustainable relationships between partners.



Andy James is the Director of Product Strategy at Enablea cloud-based SaaS solution for B2B rebate management. The software is used by procurement and finance professionals in distribution, wholesale and manufacturing across over 50 industries so that they can have an easy, seamless solution to execute and track their full range of trading programs.

international business

Troubles to Come: Glimpsing the Post-Pandemic Landscape for International Business Disputes

Some eighteen months into the Covid-19 pandemic, the world continues to grapple with the immediate effects. Even in parts of the world that have achieved meaningful levels of vaccination, the rise of the Delta variant has lengthened both the pandemic itself, and the governmental countermeasures that result, and the parts of the world whose populations remain largely unvaccinated are still dealing with the first-order health and economic effects of the event.

The fact that the pandemic continues to have these effects, and is likely to continue well into 2022, counsels humility as we strive to discern the path forward for business. In the weeks after the onset of the pandemic, for instance, much of the international business world anticipated a wave of very substantial legal disputes arising out of the application of the law of force majeure to the event. But businesses proved to be adept at managing their way through those challenges, without allowing them to devolve into legal disputes and broken relationships. Thus, while there was a meaningful ripple of force majeure lawsuits and arbitrations, the expected wave did not materialize. It is certainly a cliché at this point, but as we endeavor to look forward, the one thing we can be certain of is that we will face further uncertainty.

Nevertheless, the future landscape for international business disputes, in litigation and arbitration, is starting to emerge, and we can venture some observations about what is already happening and some educated thinking about what is likely to follow. One thing stands out: The volume of international business disputes worldwide jumped in 2020. There are no official statistics for international lawsuits in US courts, but the leading arbitration institutions worldwide do publish statistics, and those show that the number of disputes committed to international arbitration in 2020 was up by 10%, which is well above the pre-pandemic trendline. Given that the pandemic likely stressed middle-market international businesses at least as much as it did larger companies, and that middle-market businesses are less likely to have arbitration clauses in place, it’s a fair bet that litigation of cross-border disputes have jumped as well.

This is no surprise – times of disruption tend to lead to more disputes. And given that the world is not yet even out of the pandemic, it’s reasonable to expect that this elevated incidence of international disputes – and thus elevated dispute risk for businesses – will continue for some time. In addition to the surge in disputes overall, practitioners are also seeing some specific developments in the kinds of cases that are being filed, and business and political developments that indicate what sorts of issues might come to the fore in the near to medium term as well.

International Business Disputes Already Arising

The Covid-19 pandemic has been the single largest force majeure event that has ever struck the international business community – larger than the Great Depression, larger than World War II, and larger than the oil shock of the 1970s or the 2009 financial crisis. It has affected virtually every business sector, to some extent or another, and the entire geography of the world. Thus, unsurprisingly, it has engendered serious business disputes across sectors and worldwide as well. Several such trends are already upon us:

Manufacturing, supply chain, and distribution

The onset of the pandemic in early 2020, for many businesses, brought with it an effective and immediate demand stop – not merely a downturn, but a near-complete stop. Others, meanwhile, saw an immediate demand surge. Combined with the immediate effects of the pandemic and governmental countermeasures, this led in very short order to disarray in logistics and supply chains, and in distribution channels. Overall, that shock eased over the course of the pandemic to date, and the parts of the world that are haltingly exiting from the pandemic are now experiencing marked demand amplification. Thus, even now, supply chains and distribution channels are now facing continuing whiplash, while some parts of the world are still stuck with serious impediments to consumer and business demand.

Disputes that were forestalled during the first year of the pandemic are now crystallizing into lawsuits and arbitrations, as temporary accommodations “sunset” and some supply chain participants simply fail. Businesses are still managing their way through, and there is not yet a massive wave of supply and distribution disputes, but they are now readily visible in the publicly filed cases and in discussions between businesses and their counsel and are likely to continue. Some are being presented as force majeure disputes and many others are presenting as simple breaches of contract or in insolvency proceedings. And now the same kinds of issues are also appearing in construction disputes, as the US and other real estate markets have heated up and international construction supply chains are stressed by the demand surge. Close surveillance of supply and distribution relationships thus remains important at this stage.

Corporate transactions

Another area that has seen a marked uptick in cases explicitly arising out of the pandemic has been in the corporate transactional deal space. There have been quite a few instances in which parties to prospective deals have invoked the pandemic, in one way or another, to forestall deal closings or to bail out of deals. These disputes have arisen often on the basis of Material Adverse Change or Material Adverse Event clauses, giving rise to substantial litigation and arbitration regarding the scope and applicability of these provisions. Given how the transactional space has taken off since the first stages of the pandemic, it appears that this development might be tailing off, at least in the parts of the world that are exiting the pandemic. But these cases will continue until the world is all the way out of this, and it’s also going to leave some other issues in its wake: The market is now seeing earn-out disputes related to the pandemic, for instance, and moving forward there are probably going to be novel “earn-out” disputes based on non-revenue, post-closing consideration benchmarks. The pandemic will also likely give rise to some novel valuation and damages disputes going forward, as parties dispute how to factor pandemic-era numbers into those measurements.

Tech transactions and intellectual property

Business and consumer adjustments to pandemic life have resulted in increased adoption of technology solutions of all sorts, in all areas of business, from communications solutions to supply and distribution management to business processes and CRM. This increased adoption of new technology solutions has been especially marked among middle-market companies, many of whom had been relatively late adopters prior to the pandemic.

This entails increased exposure to tech transaction disputes, which are still somewhat novel for many businesses. It also entails increased value of technology assets – both for a company’s own IP assets and for those that business license or acquire – and of company data. This in turn raises the stakes of disputes that do arise, and even further, increases the temptation for potential wrongdoers, inside or outside of the organization, to attempt improperly to “monetize” their access to these assets. Accordingly, there has been a marked uptick of IP, trade secret, and non-compete disputes, increasingly including cross-border disputes. And of course, the pre-pandemic trend toward more cross-border cybersecurity exposure and data protection compliance risk has only been accelerated by the increased adoption of tech solutions resulting from the pandemic. Businesspeople and in-house legal leaders thus must now have a working knowledge of their organizations’ entire suite of tech solutions, tech transactions, and the disputes that often arise out of them.

International Business Disputes On the Horizon

The sorts of international business disputes discussed above are likely to continue, both in the parts of the world that are closer to an exit from the pandemic and certainly in those that are further behind. But even the path out of the pandemic will be strewn with business disputes, many of which will be novel.


Many if not most governments have reacted to the pandemic with massive fiscal support for consumers and for businesses. Some jurisdictions have also implemented legal supports, such as debt enforcement holidays and state declarations of force majeure in favor of their domestic businesses. As a result, the pandemic to date has featured remarkably fewer insolvencies than what the business community had feared at the outset. Chapter 15 filings in the US – that is, US insolvencies in aid of primary insolvency proceedings overseas – jumped by 68% in 2020, but insolvency filings worldwide remained steady in many jurisdictions and actually dropped substantially in many others. However, those fiscal and legal supports are now largely reaching their sunsets. Accordingly, a recent World Bank report has forecasted a substantial rise in insolvency proceedings worldwide in late 2021 and 2022, as “zombie” organizations lose fiscal and legal supports and fail to survive. Legal and business leaders thus should monitor the financial health of key counterparties, as well as supply and distribution behavior.


China was of course central to the supply chain story over the last year and a half. There was widespread disruption in business relationships involving China, but contested disputes ended up being fairly rare, in part because China managed to work their way through the pandemic speedily – and probably also because disputes with Chinese counterparties, often sited in China and/or requiring enforcement in China, can be a particularly unappealing prospect, even as business disputes go.

But those relationships remain under strain, especially when the Chinese supplier has its own upstream suppliers in jurisdictions that are still suffering from the pandemic, so again the risk isn’t gone.  And going forward, the movement toward supply chain diversification – “China plus one” – is continuing and now appears likely to become a secular trend, and is necessarily going to entail some increase in disputes involving Chinese vendors, as relationships are scaled back or ended altogether. Organizations pursuing supply diversification, particularly with regard to Chinese counterparties, should be planning well ahead for the management of those transitions and endeavoring to manage away from legal disputes within China.

Tax Structuring Changes in Light of the Prospective Global Minimum Tax

This final sort of upcoming cross-border disputes remains somewhat speculative, but it is likely to affect some meaningful fraction of cross-border businesses with operations overseas. This summer, the OECD and dozens of other countries agreed in principle to a global minimum corporate tax regime, in part as a “pay-for” for the huge fiscal outlays of the pandemic.

Many of the details of the GMT remain under development, and it is expected that most manufacturing and other “brick and mortar” operations are likely to be excluded from the regime. But it does appear likely that the GMT will cause substantial restructuring of multinational corporate presences, as the tax benefits currently enjoyed in some jurisdictions evaporate and inter-jurisdictional competition shifts to non-tax measures, such as tariffs and duties. Those restructurings will entail follow-on disputes, as local relationships are ended. Organizations facing potential exposure to the new GMT should begin planning now for the corporate restructurings that will necessarily follow because managing through the transition with minimal dispute risk will be a complicated and laborious task.

The Practice of International Business Disputes and Dispute Risk Management Moving Forward

Even prior to the pandemic, the practice of international arbitration had been moving toward more usage of remote videoconferencing, at least for procedural stages of arbitrations. With the pandemic, remote proceedings – which can result in substantial cost savings – are now being adopted for merits in arbitration, with witnesses appearing and testifying remotely. And even courts in many jurisdictions, including the US, are now regularly conducting procedural conferences remotely, if not yet trials. And the increased overall incidence of international business disputes, as a result of the pandemic, may be expected to further increase the adoption of international arbitration for the resolution of international business disputes, which is already the preferred practice of repeat users of international dispute resolution services and is even more valuable to organizations that encounter such disputes more sporadically.

The business world will exit from the pandemic era, haltingly and over time. But the sorts of international business disputes that have resulted from the event are likely to persist even after it has ended, and for some time to come. Dispute risk will follow. But that risk can be managed effectively, with diligent surveillance and monitoring of cross-border relationships, careful management of incipient disputes, and the use of experienced counsel and cost-saving measures such as arbitration and remote technology. These dispute risk management practices can help to ensure that organizations will enter the post-pandemic landscape with the least possible damage and the best possible competitive posture for the future.


Economic Recovery in Germany Marked with Fierce Rise in Inflation and a Stronger Green Transition

When examining a recovery for the German economy as the world rebounds from the events of 2020, it’s important to realize that many sectors will continue to struggle throughout this year. Although the response from the government was fast and strong at the start of the pandemic, three main challenges remain top of mind for Germany this year throughout the recovery process as businesses adapt to a withdrawal of government support and the economy reopens. Many of them took up debt last year and are more vulnerable than before the start of the pandemic. In addition, supply bottlenecks across several sectors will affect exports, and lastly, they will face rising inflation, which is forecast to rise to 4% later this year.

At the onset of the pandemic, the German government provided an immediate response to support businesses, which led to a sense of stability for most of 2020 and the beginning of 2021. Now, as vaccinations progress and cases go down, the government will evaluate its existing stimulus measures and begin to pull back on fiscal support. The German government’s generous support has already provided for approximately $400 billion in direct support (11% of GDP), higher than most countries in Western Europe. Much of what happens next will be decided during the September parliamentary elections but in the meantime, businesses are preparing to say goodbye to the generous financial aid provided.

One government support staying in place is the suspension of the Debt Brake Rule. This rule – which limits the federal deficit to 0.35% of economic output per year, by adding an investment rule to secure enough public money for climate protection, infrastructure, health care and education– has recently been officially suspended for 2022. Not only does this temporary suspension this rule ease the burden on German businesses and the wider economy, but helps transatlantic relations with the U.S., which has been running a trade deficit with Germany. The suspension of the rule has and will continue to help with the U. S’s high current account deficit with Germany, however, it is only predicted to be suspended through 2022.

Businesses globally are struggling with some of the worst supply chain issues to date. This is hitting German sectors particularly hard, as there is a national shortage of shipping containers and semiconductor chips. Supply chain issues are expected to be mainly short-term for the manufacturing industry, especially the automotive industry, and opportunity lies ahead in the medium-to-long term as demand grows for German exports in China and the U.S. The need to spend more on sustainability is the broad consensus among the German population and the main political parties and it is predicted the green party will be a strong contender in the September election. Demand for electric cars is growing, and the Germany car industry was able to play into this trend pretty well, helped by their strong financial position.

There are business opportunities in Germany for companies providing products or services for digitalization and sustainability, as Germany is striving to catch up in the digitalization process.

In general, the German economy is in good shape. While many businesses adapt as the stimulus pulls back, a few sectors will be struggling – such as textile and retail, where margins were already thin prior to the pandemic. The metal and steel industries are generally in good condition, with some upset from strong competition and small profit margins.

Keeping in mind that despite stimulus and support, businesses operating in Germany will have to protect their trade receivables in anticipation of the economic changes this year will bring.


Theo Smid is a Senior Economist for Atradius based in the Netherlands.

Authentic leadership

What Every Global Leader Needs to Know About Authentic Leadership

Leadership falls into the functions of management and is at the core of being a great manager. Without great leadership, a manager is stagnant, only concerned for the status-quo. Leadership, being the core of management, is crucial to an organization’s success from a performance and management level. Leadership is critical to business success and has relative value in organizations throughout North American and the rest of developed countries.

However, leadership, when assessed from a distance, is somewhat elusive. For instance, four scholars by the names of Francis Yammarino, Shelley Dionne, Jae Uk, and Fred Dansereau found some mismatches between theoretical concepts of leadership and empirical investigations and explained that while the theoretical concepts of leadership are extensive, empirical studies could not have sufficiently supported these theoretical concepts.

In fact, past studies about leadership lacked a multilevel approach and only focused on downward control. Not accounting for a middle-level leader who takes a two-way approach to influence both superiors and subordinates—more of liaison. Another reason was that there is no determined set of variables used to investigate effective leadership, owing to the diversity of leadership theories with different perspectives about effective leadership. A third reason relates to studies about leadership that lack a systematic approach and stem from interdisciplinary approaches. Thus, leadership has remained relatively silent on how to integrate theories, methods, and concepts from diverse disciplinary domains to provide a rich basis for understanding the true leadership theoretical and applicable concepts.

Several authors focus on different aspects of leadership models and argue that existing leadership models could have reasonably developed some ways of appraising an effective leader versus an ineffective leader. They also identified a number of variables potentially affecting the effectiveness of leadership. Unfortunately, these leadership models have been challenged by various researchers and leadership has still left executives with rudimental and anecdotal ways to lead, leaving a gap between leadership effectiveness, satisfying followers, and meeting customer needs. These leadership models have failed to disclose the nature of filling the leadership gaps between performance and success.

When looking at leadership from a new perspective, executives should understand leadership models but place more emphasis on applying what works best for them in their current work environment. Many executives wonder what academic and leadership writers are trying to explain through such models. There is not much difference, except that a theoretical framework has been tried and tested while a model may be an application that leaders can learn and teach others.

For instance, various models are presented in an attempt to portray the concept of leadership. However, there have been several shifts in the thought of leadership, and subsequently, newer approaches to leadership emerged leading up to the rise of an authentic leadership model.

Authentic leadership provides prescriptive and anecdotal applications that leaders and supervisors can grasp. It is straightforward and uses a variety of guidelines for both leaders and followers alike. A prominent scholar that is well known in the Academy of Management by the name of Bill George explain authentic leaders as those managers who “recognize their shortcomings, and work hard to overcome them. They lead with purpose, meaning, and values. They build enduring relationships with people. Others follow them because they know where they stand. They are consistent and self-disciplined. When their principles are tested, they refuse to compromise.”

However, authentic leadership has not evaded the criticism by scholars that normally are associated with leadership models and theories. For example, two scholars by the names of Jackie Ford and Nancy Harding maintain that the foundations of authentic leadership are somewhat vague, and the lack of attention to how an authentic leader can adapt to every situation and present different faces to different followers while remaining authentic. They also challenge authentic leadership in terms of its theoretical foundations and approach to adapting people to the collective. It’s argued that this leadership style fails to consider the fact that each person is full of contradictions. In addition, Rita Gardiner, an author and scholar in the area of management at the University of Western Ontario, critiques authentic leadership for the lack of a theoretical rationale by which the essential role of social and historical factors can be justified. She posits that “authentic leadership is deeply problematic because it fails to take into account how social and historical circumstances affect a person’s ability to be a leader.”

For a leader to be completely authentic, telling the truth is not always easy. Therefore, is being an authentic leader a good thing? Yes. Does it work in every situation? No. Should a leader know about it and consider being as authentic as possible when determining his or her strengths and weaknesses? Absolutely.


Mostafa Sayyadi works with senior business leaders to effectively develop innovation in companies and helps companies—from start-ups to the Fortune 100—succeed by improving the effectiveness of their leaders. He is a business book author and a long-time contributor to business publications and his work has been featured in top-flight business publications.

global business

Best Tips for Online Branding Your Global Business

In the wake of the pandemic, it seems that there is no point in talking about expanding a business and going global. Yet, many companies are not scared of the virus that has disrupted the entire business world and still work on bringing their global expansion plans to life.

The poll by Corporate Compliance Insights surveyed over 1,000 tech businesses from the U.S., and all of them confirmed that they are planning to go global despite the fact that the pandemic is still going on.

If you are among those fearless who still plan to go global in the nearest future, you need to start putting your online brand into that perspective as well. Today, we’re going to take a look at a few tips on how you can make that happen.

1. Think about Your Target Audience

It is essential to collect all the details to understand customer behavior when you’re entering the foreign market. But it’s also important to create a marketing strategy with the consideration of that audience’s language and culture. And, if you skip that step, it can undermine all your online branding efforts.

Besides, such negligence can undermine the reputation of your brand even before you enter the foreign market. It happened to KFC during its attempt to enter the Chinese market because of the improper translation of their slogan Finger-Lickin’ Good into Eat Your Fingers Off.

Even though this mishap didn’t ruin the company’s plans to succeed in China, it is still remembered in the business world as a poor practice which you should avoid at all costs. So, when developing the online brand for your global business, show respect to the target audience’s culture by localizing all your branding materials properly.

2. Find Local Influencers to Help Promote Your Global Brand

If you have plans to expand your business to different markets abroad, you need to make an effort to appear relatable to the local audiences. One of the most effective ways to achieve that is to partner with local influencers who can help you promote your brand in the respective market.

Airbnb is a great example of this strategy in action, as it often shows the hosts that sublet the apartments through Airbnb’s services around the world:

Image credit: Airbnb

With this approach, Airbnb tries to make its customers feel more welcome, no matter where they are and where they are coming from.

However, there is a trick with this strategy, as it requires you to find the influencer that has experience in your niche. For instance, if you’re expanding your foreign language school where people can study fluent English to other countries like Italy, Germany, and Russia, you need to find influencers there within the education industry who can help you promote your business locally.

It’s also worth mentioning that partnership with local influencers within your niche will also help you attract the right audience right away.

3. Create a Social Media Profile for Each Market

If you want your foreign audience to recognize you as a brand, when it comes to your digital marketing strategies, you need to speak your audience’s language. They need to have an opportunity to review your products and business updates in their native language to ensure that there is a full understanding between you and them.

And since people mostly use social media for brand updates, it makes sense to have a separate social media account for each country which you are planning to enter. IKEA is a great example in this case, as it has different Instagram profiles for every country where it sells its products:

Image credit: IKEA France

Such an approach also creates an opportunity for you to communicate with your target audience more, let them share their insights, and find out how you can improve your online branding strategy for your global business even more.

Over to You

Of course, going global with your business won’t deliver quick results. There are a lot of points to consider, and online branding is one of them.

That being said, the most important point in online branding for a global business is to understand the target audience and speak its language. If you achieve that, then your online branding efforts will definitely not go to waste.


Ryan is a passionate blogger and writer who likes sharing his thoughts. Now he works as a content editor and internet researcher, you can check his site. He likes to travel and explore new countries.

eastern europe

Businesses in Eastern Europe Enter 2021 Battered – But Hopeful

The lasting impact of the global pandemic on businesses in Eastern Europe is yet to be seen. Atradius recently released the Eastern Europe Payment Practices Barometer, an annual survey that assesses business payment behavior throughout the world. The prevailing safeguard that many businesses implemented to protect vital assets this year was trade credit insurance.

The protection of trade receivables from the risk of customer payment default is vital for these businesses. Three out of five businesses interviewed reported that they have used trade credit insurance during the pandemic and a significant percent indicated they intend to employ credit insurance next year. This is a clear indication that businesses in Eastern Europe are taking a strategic approach to credit management during the pandemic, which is vital as the global recession continues to pose new and unforeseen challenges.

Business challenges ahead

The majority of Eastern European businesses surveyed said that a decrease in demand represents the greatest challenge to their business. Other challenges to business profitability include maintaining adequate cash flow, collecting outstanding invoices and containing costs.

Not all businesses in Eastern Europe faired the same. Businesses in Bulgaria and Slovakia experienced devastating blows to revenue and cash flow, while businesses in Turkey reported the smallest negative impacts on revenue, cash flow, and sales volume in the region.

Part of the secret to Turkey’s success is a strong, proactive approach to credit management in past years, but especially this year. Businesses in Turkey explicitly stated that they will continue using trade credit insurance in the coming years, which is a distinctive feature of Turkey’s success in the Eastern Europe economic region.

The Payment Practices Barometer has enabled us to evaluate business confidence both before and during the pandemic and recession. Some of the benchmark indicators are shocking, like an 88% rise in overdue invoices, and severe revenue shortfalls felt by almost 60% of businesses in the region during the pandemic.

The toll on industry sectors

The industries across Eastern Europe feeling the greatest shock include hospitality, tourism, and non-essential services. Certain food industries and chemicals are faring slightly better across Eastern Europe if they were able to continue production during lockdowns.

Businesses surveyed in the agri-food, chemicals, steel-metals and ICT/electronics industries mostly shared an optimistic outlook about the future of the domestic economy in their country. Those operating in the electronics industry reported 63% of respondents expecting an improvement in the domestic economy in the coming months while Hungarian businesses in this sector were the most optimistic.

Hope for 2021

Businesses in Eastern Europe are approaching 2021 with cautious optimism. After months of various lockdown measures, reduced consumption and supply-side shocks wreaked havoc on emerging and developed economies alike, a significant proportion of businesses expressed optimism and hope about the coming year. This was most clearly expressed by businesses discussing the future of their domestic economies. Businesses in Turkey and Hungary were particularly upbeat in their assessments of their respective domestic economies in 2021.

The opinion about the global economy is less bright, with 43% of survey respondents predicting a decline in the coming year. For businesses worldwide, the next months are critical. Continued lockdowns may have a severe impact on economic development and rebuilding credit.

Outsourcing credit risk management to external professionals gives businesses a powerful tool that helps securely grow revenues in an unstable time. Credit insurance is designed to help businesses trade safely with more profits while mitigating the risk of customer payment default and other financial pitfalls that can be devastating to an already struggling business.

Much of what the next six months hold is unknown. Around the world, varying degrees of shut down and business as usual are shaping the future for business in each region. With the virus not yet under control in many key economies, it is too soon to say which countries will see strong rebounds and in which industry sectors. What we can see, however, is the strategic approach to credit management in Eastern Europe helping industries securely grow their business while protecting their assets in the uncertain months ahead.


Silvia Ungaro is a Corporate Communications Manager at Atradius, a global trade credit insurer. She is responsible for the Payment Practices Barometer survey of B2B payment behavior.


Strategy Consulting Needs To Change. Here’s How.

Strategy is a competitive advantage and the organizations that embrace it will survive, while those that do not will find their organizations facing possible acquisition. A firm’s strategy primarily develops plans to restructure unclear and vague situations to enhance competitive advantage. This article is set in place to inspire consultants to effectively develop and implement a corporate strategy to meet the challenges of today’s business world. It adds to a relatively small body of literature and develops our understanding of the direct contribution of management consulting in formulating and executing strategy in organizations.

This article also offers practical contributions for consultants from a broad-based, industry-wide concentration. It highlights the potential of the application of management consulting through illuminating how consultants can contribute to the company’s strategy development and execution. Scholars may also find that this article contributes to research on an organization’s internal resources, through articulating the impact of management consulting on corporate strategy.

The 4 Pillars of Corporate Strategy

Consultants can take a look at six aspects of strategic formulation based upon a prominent scholar by the name of Venkat Venkatraman:





-riskiness, and;


Consultants are aware that a few scholars, such as Francois Bergeron, Louis Raymond, and Suzanne Rivard, found that two strategic dimensions—-aggressiveness and riskiness, were separate and did not fall under the same strategic dimension as the other four. These scholars concluded that strategy mainly encompasses four aspects: analysis, pro-activeness, defensiveness, and futurity. Thus, riskiness and aggressiveness, or what I would prefer to call assertiveness, fall under the operational risk category and must be managed but also monitored due to fluctuations in the dynamic economic environment of today.

So how can you as a consultant use these four dimensions? Venkat Venkatraman provides a blueprint to follow:

-Analysis refers to the degree to which the roots of problems are analyzed to provide the best solutions, which ultimately results in a more efficient allocation of resources to solve problems and also achieve organizational goals.

-Pro-activeness is defined as the extent to which a firm continuously searches for emerging opportunities in its business environment, and then actively participates in these opportunities by responding to changing trends.

-Defensiveness, which recommends undertaking defensive behaviors that manifest themselves in enhancing efficiency and in cutting costs while maintaining continuous budget-analysis and break-even points.

-Futurity is reflected in the degree to which the strategic decision-making process takes a two-way approach—-an emphasis on both long-term effectiveness and shorter-term efficiency concurrently.

Consultants need to know how they can help in managerial decision making and planning and executing strategy. To help consultants narrow the gaps, this next section provides a formalized application that can be implemented by consultants when implementing corporate strategy in companies.

Leveraging the Power of a Strategic Approach in Companies

When consultants analyze strategy, they aim to create more knowledge and find the best solution using a problematic search of various options. The type of strategy stimulates organizations to apply information systems in their decision-making processes in order to investigate various alternatives and options. It is also important for consultants to provide a high degree of freedom for employees to explore their own new ideas and solutions to organizational opportunities while solving problems. They can analyze strategic milestones to meet the goals of the employee’s intellectual stimulation and personal development. This provides new and more innovative solutions for organizational problems as they arise. Furthermore, consultants can inculcate human capital into social capital to exert change at the organizational level. To develop this strategy, consultants can particularly contribute to the development of a workplace in which there is/are:

1. Emphasis on effective coordination among different functional areas.

2. Extensive use of information systems to support decision making.

3. Comprehensive analysis undertaken when confronted with an important decision.

4. Use of planning techniques.

5. Effective deployment of management information and control systems.

6. Use of manpower planning and performance appraisal of senior managers.

Consultants can also develop a futurity strategy to implement a series of basic research aimed at developing a more comprehensive vision for the future by incorporating upcoming trends in the business environment. They use futurity to expand the growth opportunities available to organizations that may be challenging but important to close the gap between success and failure. To create a futurity strategy, consultants can contribute to the development of a workplace in which there is/are:

1. Specific criteria used for resource allocation which generally reflect short-term considerations.

2. Emphasis on basic research to provide us with a competitive edge for the future.

3. Key indicators of operations forecasted.

4. Formal tracking of significant and general trends.

5. Regular analyses of critical issues.

Furthermore, consultants can develop relationships and interactions to provide valuable resources for the organization as a whole. They must also take an offensive approach at times and in this case, they employ a defensive strategy. A defensive strategy utilizes modifications in order to efficiently and effectively use organizational resources, decrease costs, and control operational risk. To foster this strategy, consultants can particularly contribute to the development of a workplace in which there is/are:

1. Regular modifications to the manufacturing/service technology.

2. Use cost control systems for monitoring performance.

3. Use of current management techniques to ensure that we move smoothly at the required level.

4. Emphasis on product/service quality through the use of work improvement teams.

Pro-activeness is a strategy element used by consultants who take a proactive approach to search for better positions in the business environment. In this case, consultants can inspire employees to find better opportunities and solutions to problems. Thus, consultants positively contribute to pro-activeness strategy by setting highly desired expectations and providing a suitable situation for employees to identify new opportunities. To cultivate a pro-activeness strategy, consultants can contribute to the development of a workplace in which there is/are:

1. Constant search for new opportunities.

2. Attempt to introduce new brands or products in the market.

3. Constant search for businesses that can be acquired.

4. More effective expansion of capacities when compared to our competitors.

5. Strategic elimination of those operations that are no longer profitable in later stages of life cycles.

In Conclusion

This article raises vital questions as to how consultants can successfully develop and implement a corporate strategy in companies. Therefore, I suggest that consultants can positively affect the company’s strategy formulation and execution. This managerial implementation improves both competitive advantages and enhances the time and efficiency of task significance leading to satisfied followers who take better care of stakeholders. This finding indicates that consultants can build a suitable workplace for better implementing corporate strategy through facilitating the four strategic aspects of analysis, pro-activeness, defensiveness, and futurity. Consultants can now see how they can cultivate an effective corporate strategy, which will enable superior performance for companies.


Mostafa Sayyadi works with senior business leaders to effectively develop innovation in companies and helps companies—from start-ups to the Fortune 100—succeed by improving the effectiveness of their leaders. He is a business book author and a long-time contributor to business publications and his work has been featured in top-flight business publications.

References Used

Bergeron, F., Raymond, L., & Rivard, S. (2004). Ideal patterns of strategic alignment and business performance. Information & management, vol. 41, no. 8, pp. 1003-1020.

Venkatraman, N. (1989). Strategic orientation of business enterprises: the construct, dimensionality, and measurement. Management Science, vol. 35, no. 8, pp. 942-962.



Who’s The New Boss? How To Avoid Succession Planning Mistakes.

Many corporations have endured a rough 2020 that included the resignations of top executives at some major brands. Will their replacements be ready? It’s a fair question, especially if the new company leader is promoted from within. Studies show many senior leaders don’t think their companies properly educate and prepare future leaders for succession.

If an organization has no pipeline of leaders ready to take over senior leadership positions, then a lack of succession planning can be catastrophic for even the most enduring company, says Jennifer Mackin (, a leader of two consulting firms and the ForbesBook author of Leaders Deserve Better: A Leadership Development Revolution.

“Many companies don’t find the development of leaders significant until they are readying for succession planning, embarking on a new venture, or weathering storms that threaten their viability,” Mackin says. “This reactive approach is risky because development takes time.”

Mackin says it’s time for CEOs, senior leaders, and heads of HR to modernize their leadership development because of the ever-evolving business world, which is especially volatile now.

“Leaders often weren’t ready to assume higher roles before the pandemic, and now it’s a bigger problem in terms of succession,” Mackin says. “A rapidly-changing time, such as now, is a good reason to focus on succession to ensure the chances of a company’s long-term survival.”

Mackin says the common mistakes companies make in their succession plans are:

They start too late. Even when companies realize they will have a void in their leadership roles, they wait too long to get the succession process started, Mackin says. “They may know people are retiring in two years,” she says, “but they need to start their planning well before then. It takes three to five years to do it right.”

They only consider the CEO role in their succession conversation. Mackin says that when a company does a thorough evaluation of its people, looking not only at their present performance but gauging their future, they might discover they don’t have the right kinds of people in the right roles. “Companies that win think strategically and have a people plan to address those gaps,” she says. “I recommend an overall development plan for the organization’s leaders as a whole and for individuals, and a succession plan for all key roles, not just for the CEO or C-Suite.”

The succession plan and development plan aren’t shared with leaders. Many companies worry that if their plans are known by the individuals slotted for upcoming senior roles, other people, not chosen, will leave. “Having outlined all roles with expectations will help others aspire to gain the knowledge and skills they need, because then they know what is required at the next level,” Mackin says.

Decisions are made subjectively by the top leadership team. “It is tough to create a succession plan without objective data about the future open roles and the employees that could potentially fit those roles with the right development,” Mackin says.

“Prepared leaders who are stepping into higher roles have never been more important than they are now,” Mackin says. “They are more adept during unforeseen disruptions and are able to pull their teams together. They can recraft a new, realistic, strategic direction quickly.”


Jennifer Mackin ( is a ForbesBook author of Leaders Deserve Better: A Leadership Development Revolution, and a leader of two consulting firms – CEO of Oliver Group, Inc. and President and Partner of Leadership Pipeline Institute US. As an author and speaker with over 25 years of consulting experience, she is a recognized leadership development influencer, having worked with CEOs, human resources managers, leadership development leaders, entrepreneurs, and other senior leaders in all industries. She earned her BS in marketing from Indiana University and her MBA from Owen School of Management at Vanderbilt University.