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New report by Nexus Global Reveals State of Business Confidence in Wales Amid COVID-19

nexus global

New report by Nexus Global Reveals State of Business Confidence in Wales Amid COVID-19

Businesses in Wales are most assured about launching new products or services, and least confident about hiring new employees.

·Sectors hit hard by COVID-19 are the least confident including leisure and sport and travel

·Law is the most confident sector in the UK

The current pandemic has thrown drastic obstacles in the way for UK businesses. With a total business confidence score of 91.89 out of 190 in Wales, these figures show just how uncertain businesses feel at present – according to a new, Business Confidence Report by Nexus Global.

Nexus Global surveyed senior managers in businesses across the UK to determine how confident they feel at present regarding the current economic climate. According to the findings, businesses are most assured about the overall health of their business, yet least confident about the health of the country’s economy.

To determine the figures, respondents were asked (on a scale of 1-10) how confident they feel at present regarding the following aspects. The results from Wales are as follows:

The South West of England ranks 8th in the UK for overall confidence

From a regional point of view, businesses in Northern Ireland are the most confident about the current climate, scoring 102.3 out of 190, nearly 10 points over the UK average. Whereas businesses in Scotland are the least confident by scoring just 83.8.

In Northern Ireland, businesses felt most confident about the happiness of employees, but least confident about the overall health of the country’s economy, this again is unsurprising given the current circumstances

Commenting on the report findings, John Westwood, Managing Director, says: “It is by no surprise to see business confidence at a low during such an unsettling and turbulent period, during which the UK economy has suffered its worst-ever decline. 

Looking forward, business confidence levels will be a key factor to influence the pace of consumer spending once lock-down measures continue to ease. This change in behavior will need to see businesses adapt if they stand a chance of seeing growth.”

For more information follow the link to click through to individual sectors to discover more in-depth information on the current climate and future predictions.

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Nexus Global IFA network was founded in 2011 to bring compliance and regulatory support to financial advisory firms.

Nexus Global is presently the only IFA network to have gained Network Membership status with The Federation of European Independent Financial Advisers (FEIFA). Nexus Global – Registration Number 10465.

The RIA firm, Blacktower Financial Management (US) LLC is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC File # 801-111088) in the United States of America.

supply chain

How COVID-19 is Accelerating the Rise of Digitalization in Supply Chain

COVID-19 has brought about a digital transformation with businesses transferring their operations to deal with restricted movement, supply interruption, and office closures.

Predictably, all industries are running in a constant state of instability, and businesses are left with no other choice but to keep redesigning their strategies to adapt to the changing behavior of the consumers. For some companies, it meant shifting from conferences, meetings, and events to virtual streaming, or replacing B2B with the direct-to-consumer model. As individuals and businesses adapt to the newfound measures, people are discovering more productive methods to perform the same task, which is already making a major impact on the digital roadmap.

While digitalizing operational processes has been on the agenda of all companies big or small, it was something they always seem to put off. Automated end to end operational processes or live chat has always been something that businesses talked about but would ultimately put it on the back burner because they could not account for the impact of internal change to support it.

Things have changed. Businesses are now implementing new processes overnight and have already adjusted to the technology and eased into the changes. This quick progression of digital processes has brought about a new mindset, welcoming the future with an open mind to give the new technology a chance.

Obstacles that used to prevent businesses from welcoming innovations hardly correlated to the technology in question. They were rather tied to an unwillingness to change existing ways of systems and bureaucracy. Now that businesses have no choice but to welcome remote working, they have become more flexible and open to trying out new approaches.

Lately, Departments have now recorded a change in priorities with regard to its clients’ digital pipeline, ranging from internationally recognized brands to SMEs. One can’t help but wonder if COVID-19 has accelerated digital transformation.

Twitter (Susanne Wolk) Digital Transformation Quiz

 

Predicting the Unforeseeable 

In a fast-changing and unpredictable environment, the only way to adapt is to collect real-time, accurate data.

With digitized track and trace systems, you can spot your goods, locate where they are, and keep track of how they are selling. Barcoding is steadily being replaced by RFID tagging in managing this. The reason behind this is because as opposed to manual scanning, an RFID tag relays data simply by being in a sensor’s proximity. They seamlessly feed into the Internet of Things (IoT) and help you find your merchandise, track shipment conditions, and secure it to a database for scheduled invoicing, reporting, and replenishment without any human input.

In a survey recently reported by Zebra Technologies, 52% of firms out of 950 participating IT decision-makers in different organizations from 9 countries are currently utilizing RFID technology while 34% are planning to implement it in the coming years.

Business intelligence becomes a lot easier once the data is encapsulated. Dashboarding, which is centered visualization of important metrics, can now be achieved with a level of accuracy and speed that wasn’t otherwise possible. Whether you are tracking yearly freight volumes, operational compliance, or staff levels, new technology has made collecting and organizing the data painless and instant.

The advent of COVID-19 has highlighted the limitation of the human workforce and market unpredictability. Organizations are now on their way to fast-track the execution of this technology and one can expect to see a quantum leap in its adoption. Even after the economy recovers from this pandemic, it will enable organizations handling a lot of data to make informed strategic decisions. Additionally, the decrease in the physical handling of goods will also improve hygiene in workplaces.

Supplier Strain Management 

Managing unpredictable demand normally forces businesses to negotiate with suppliers, use up backup resources, and order with a certain level of elasticity. When operating in a global pandemic like today, these actions are not effective enough to safeguard the supply chain.

Information is everything. How much product are you able to buy, stock, and trade? Is there a way to help struggling suppliers by negotiating another product mix or placing large orders in advance? You can only know this with accurate data about your present shipment.

In the long run, businesses will likely diversify their supplier base due to COVID-19 and change consumer behavior as we have already witnessed in situations like the tariff war between U.S.-China and Brexit. Businesses no longer rely on just one country for their manufacturing needs. Instead, they have started to diversify operations by employing neighboring countries for production or shifting it closer to consumer markets which give them the flexibility to be able to pivot if a given location faces reduced capacity.

Traversing Transportation Difficulties 

Today, businesses are facing a lot of issues due to closed borders and restrictions on international transport. Those that are able to have a stronghold on the whereabouts of their shipment at any given time gain a competitive advantage. When a business is able to locate where exactly a shipment is holding and how long it will take to arrive, they gain the maximum level of flexibility should it be delayed or routed.

For instance, slow steaming has become quite common in the industry. This is an intentional choice of opting for slower methods of transportation in order to delay the delivery of non-perishables. By this method of “floating storage”, it buys time for the destination warehouses to create space for storage or find other ways to market in case of closed primary outlets. Such a strategy can be pulled off only with the help of accurate tracking processes which in turn will allow an unparalleled chance for responsiveness.

With the help of a reliable logistics partner, you will be able to navigate disruption. Find a partner that will be able to provide real-time updates on transit options and supply chains. Some years back, this would have taken several weeks to develop such a sophisticated view. But thanks to advanced technology, it has been reduced to minutes.

Moving Stagnant Stock

Businesses today are still investing large sums of money into leased or owned physical spaces and in certain cases, it is done without simultaneously building their online channels or presence. This pandemic is exposing the defect in failing to provide an omni-channel, with even powerful organizations having a hard time to move stock.

As the saying goes, the best time to develop your website would have been ten years ago; now is the second best time. As retailers, a central part of their strategy for growth should be e-commerce. When it comes to client inquiries, service providers must have a lead-generation website. Businesses sometimes need to be conducted face to face however, brands today require a reliable digital home. When you invest in the power of online presence, it unlocks a whole new world of global business opportunities to boost sales by connecting with customers.

Should your stock pile up, you will get sufficient warnings through the digital tracking systems. This in turn will give you enough time to pivot. A good way is to shift your non-perishable products to another space in your network. Diversify your offering by redeploying your unused equipment. You can also donate your surplus perishables to local charities and shelters as a goodwill gesture.

Supply chain technology has become accessible and powerful like never before and businesses that make use of it will pull through this pandemic. As we steer past the effects of this global disruption, both shippers and logistics companies will come to see that investing in automation and data furnishes the power to make agile, smart decisions.

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Robert Jordan, a seasoned marketing professional with over 10 years of experience, currently working as Media Relations Manager at InfoClutch Inc, which provides technology database including Quickbooks customers list & many more technologies for your marketing campaign. Have expertise in setting up the lead flow for budding startups and takes it to the next level. Have a deep interest in SEO, SEM & Social Media related discussions. Always open for new ideas & discussions.

infrastructure

RURAL INFRASTRUCTURE CONNECT AMERICA’S FARMERS WITH THE WORLD

Infrastructure helps U.S. farmers compete in global markets while improving their productivity here at home.

On the Surface

America’s surface transportation system includes railways, roads, bridges and waterways. Each play an important role in moving farm products from where they are grown to customers around the world. And broadband Internet – another form of infrastructure – brings market information to farmers faster than ever before.

But: our deteriorating bridges and roadways threaten American agriculture’s dominance by slowing down shipments and making exports more expensive. Meanwhile, 60 percent of farmers say they don’t have enough Internet connectivity to run their businesses.

In his 2019 State of the Union address, President Trump included a call to action to rebuild America’s infrastructure. In July 2020, the U.S. House passed its first infrastructure package since 2016. Will this renewed interest in infrastructure from the White House and on Capitol Hill give U.S. agriculture a reason for optimism during an otherwise challenging year?

The Transportation Cost Edge

In 2018, $139.6 billion in American farm products were exported around the world, supporting more than 1 million jobs around the country, including 691,000 non-farm jobs, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. We sell more food, fiber and renewable fuel to world markets than we import, creating a positive agricultural trade balance.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic brought new uncertainties for America’s farmers. Total U.S. agriculture exports in FY 2020 are projected to fall to $136.5 billion due to a rollback in commodities like soybeans, cotton, corn, and wheat. And for soybeans, the trade situation is especially complicated. Aside from the impacts of the ongoing U.S.-China trade war, U.S. soybean exports are falling in part due to increasingly competitive Brazilian exports. Lower transportation costs are part of what gives Brazil’s exporters an edge.

US Brazil Soybean X to China

The United States’ historically low cost of transport from farms to export markets has been one of the keys to its competitiveness and historical domination of the global soybean market. But even small differences in transportation costs can give South American soybeans an advantage over U.S. soybeans. Competitors like Brazil are starting to catch up with investment in roads and ports to make their agricultural products more inexpensive – and therefore more attractive to big buyers like China.

Last year, Brazil surpassed the United States as the largest soybean producer in the world while American exports faced duel headwinds of a strong U.S. dollar and Chinese tariffs. Meanwhile, U.S. market share of global soybean trade has actually been declining since the 1990s, in part due to changes in ocean freight rates and the development of Brazil’s transportation infrastructure since 2007.

Getting Food to Market: Roads, Bridges, Dams and Ports

Wherever it’s destined to go in the world, all food starts at the farm. Today in the United States, that often means moving millions of tons of commodities long distances over bumpy roads and structurally deficient bridges, and through crowded ports.

Investment in rural roads, bridges, locks and dams has not kept up with America’s modern agriculture industry. Trade in grains and oilseeds has grown on average between two the three percent per year since 1964. Yet, the United States spends less on transportation infrastructure than during any point since World War II. And infrastructure legislation of the past has often focused on population centers – urban and suburban areas – rather than rural communities whose economies depend on agriculture, and exports.

The situation appears dire once you dig into the numbers. Transportation research organization TRIP’s 2019 Rural Roads Report found that 79 percent of the nation’s bridges that are rated as poor or “structurally deficient” are rural. Altogether, the nation’s rural roads, highways and bridges face a $211 billion backlog in repairs.

Inland waterways move commodities like soybeans to domestic and international markets. But most locks and dams have exceeded their intended 50-year lifespan. The result? In 2017, 49 percent of barges experienced delays – at a cost of nearly $45 million.

In some places, short line railroads are the best or only option for moving agricultural products. Some rural rail lines have closed due to consolidation in the industry. That puts more reliance on trucking to move freight. But more truckers on the road, coupled with aging roadways, means more freight bottlenecks on highways across the United States. In 2016, truck drivers sat in stalled traffic for about 728 million hours at an estimated cost of $50 million.

Rural Roads

Rural Broadband is the Next Infrastructure Frontier

Modern infrastructure includes digital connectivity. From following commodity markets to communicating with potential buyers, access to broadband internet is essential for farmers in 2020. Farmers leverage the Internet to improve efficiency, to connect with customers in real-time, and to implement precision technologies that optimize the use of inputs.

Yet, USDA estimates that 80 percent of the 24 million Americans who don’t have access to reliable, affordable high-speed internet are in rural areas. While USDA has ramped up its investment in telecommunications infrastructure, more needs to be done to ensure U.S. farmers remain on the cutting edge of the global economy.

The 2018 report from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to the White House identified “e-connectivity” as a central pillar for improving the quality of life in rural America. The task force likened the expansion of broadband and precision agriculture to the construction of the U.S. Interstate Highway System of the 1950s, which catapulted productivity and transformed the nation’s economy. Investment in this area will help U.S. farmers compete with other nations like Australia, China and the Netherlands that are already seen as leaders in agriculture technology.

Rural Internet

2020 Priorities Aligned

Leaders on both side of the political aisle understand that America’s roads, bridges, and waterways need attention. So why haven’t we done something about it?

Major infrastructure legislation has run into roadblocks at every turn in recent years. While both parties agree there is need for investment, there is little agreement on how to pay for it and what should receive priority for funding. That may change as members of Congress see overlap between infrastructure investment and COVID-19 relief. The agriculture community has been joined by the Western Governors Association, the National Association of Manufacturers and hundreds more organizations in pushing for a long-term infrastructure bill.

The last time that Congress passed a major infrastructure package was the “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act” in 2016 – and that expires on September 30, 2020, adding more incentive for Congress to act. In early July 2020, the House passed H.R. 2, the “Moving Forward Act”. Notably, the bill includes grants for rural infrastructure projects and expanding broadband access to under-served areas. But the $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan did not earn bipartisan support.

Where do we go from here? Last summer, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee advanced its own infrastructure legislation with different priorities. Separately, Senate Commerce Chair Roger Wicker (R-MS) introduced a bill that would accelerate the build out of rural broadband infrastructure. The narrow window for action on infrastructure in 2020 is rapidly closing as we inch closer to the November elections.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind?

If you live in a city, perhaps you haven’t considered the long road that a soybean (or any other farm product) travels on aging roads, bridges, and dams. High speed Internet is something many of us take for granted. So it may be easy to overlook the role that infrastructure plays in helping American farmers find new markets and connecting rural communities with the world.

Renewed investment in roads and waterways, as well as e-connectivity, would make a big impact in rural communities that have been hit hard by the trade war and global pandemic, helping American farmers compete in the global economy.

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Sarah Hubbart provides communications strategy, content creation, and social media management for TradeVistas. A native of rural Northern California, Sarah has melded communications and policy throughout her career in Washington, D.C., serving in government affairs, issues management, and coalition building roles in the agricultural sector. She is an alum of California State University, Chico and George Washington University.

This article originally appeared on TradeVistas.org. Republished with permission.

manufacturing

Predictions, Prophets, and Restarting Your Manufacturing Business Amid COVID-19

COVID-19 has created a drastic effect on global health and the economy. Every nation is struggling to deal with the challenge of keeping its residents protected against coronavirus. Businesses are witnessing huge financial losses owing to a reduced/lack of workforce and other resources. If we talk about the manufacturing industry, it also has been hit hard by the corona crisis, and the fact that it has a huge role to play amidst coronavirus lockdown, this impact is felt the most by everyone.

The global supply chain got disrupted because of coronavirus, and since it originated in China, which is considered as the biggest manufacturing market globally, the ability of the manufacturing industry to meet the needs of the customers came down significantly.

So, let us throw some light on the impact of coronavirus on the manufacturing industry, and figure out some effective ways that can help manufacturers restart their business proficiently.

The Prophets and Prediction

The Prophet: The problem with prophecies is that they are based on data that is just a few weeks old, which is not sufficient for business leaders to make hard, cold business decisions when it comes to coming back in the market.

The Prediction: With social distancing becoming a norm, most of the people look forward to buying online. This clearly means that the scope of eCommerce is on the rise, and manufacturers will be looking to make a shift gradually.

Restarting Your Manufacturing Business

Every business is looking to return to the market, but due to the measures that are being adopted to reduce or prevent coronavirus are affecting the supply chains directly, which, in turn, is leading to disruptions in the manufacturing operations worldwide.

If we talk about the manufacturing industries like automobiles where production is done on a massive scale, the schedules for production are rigid and efficiency-optimized. In a similar way, the working of supply chains is dependent on schedules that are fixed like months ago based on the demand projections. Still, automobile owners are looking forward to remodeling such systems to be able to meet the irregular demand atmosphere.

Every crisis consists of several challenges, but one should look for opportunities within them. So, keeping the new norms of personal protection and social distancing, businesses need to redesign their business models.

To help businesses get started again, we are providing some guidelines that will help them to:

-Evaluate the organization’s COVID-19 safety compliance and requirements.

-Restructure the workplace for personal safety and protection.

-Implement procedures for personal protection.

-Put into practice the action plan for restarting to ensure a secure future of the company.

As per a Deutsche Bank analysis, the growth of GDP on the global level will be lower in 2020 due to the coronavirus effects. This effect will leave its impact on most of the U.S. and Europe, with growth forecasts on the global front also likely to drop by 0.2 percent.

Taking Care of the Workforce

The manufacturing industry is dependent on its workforce, and most of them proceeded towards their hometown owing to the fear of contracting coronavirus. In order to get its workforce back, a manufacturing company must keep track of the health status of every worker, along with gaining knowledge on the happenings in their areas through digital mediums. This will help them in knowing from which parts of the country they can call back their workforce to restart the manufacturing processes.

However, at this point in time, most of the manufacturers have to wait, and even if they are able to start the operations with a minimal workforce, they will be unable to manage their other important processes like accounting. In such cases, opting for Outsourcing manufacturing accounting services becomes imperative.

Securing Supply and Inventory

Instant delivery and globalization have turned out to be huge risk areas. Suppliers, including sub-suppliers, are all going through a similar situation. During such crisis situations, a huge concern comes to the top since procurement teams are unable to have close contact with their manufacturing suppliers. This, in turn, restricts them from monitoring the capacity of the production on a weekly/daily basis or evaluating the latest logistics prices and routes.

Now, with COVID-19, supply and inventory are in a position where there is a high risk of contractual defaults and severe legal action concerning the inability to fulfill orders on time or otherwise.

Why do Manufacturers Need to Rethink their Restart Strategies?

Most of the manufacturers are ready with their restart strategies and looking forward to implementing them ASAP. These new strategies are primarily focused on:

-The use of digitalization to receive data and have a superior visualization of the supply chain with control-centric solutions.

-Automation and robots to enhance the flexibility of the plant, including the capacity to run significant processes remotely or alone.

There is no denying that manufacturers are moving in the right direction, but they need to figure out for how long and at what pace they can carry out their production with a minimal workforce, technology support, and funds. The reason being local and international supply chains are disrupted, and one cannot say till how long this situation remains the same.

If a manufacturer is heavily dependent on the demand of a specific region or country, he may have to slow down his operations due to a lack of demand because of COVID-19. Low demand means a low supply and returns, leaving little funds for the manufacturer to operate. So, manufacturers need to assess their new strategies from every angle so that they are ready to face the forthcoming unexpected challenges.

This is a challenging situation for manufacturers for sure, and they cannot halt their operations for long. The above-mentioned suggestions will surely help manufacturers to not just get started but ensure smooth business operations in the future. Yes, they need to devise strategies, keeping in mind not just the present scenario but the possibility of forthcoming events, to stand strong against any unfavorable circumstances that might arise in the future.

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Gia Glad works as a Business Development Manager at Cogneesol, a well-renowned company offering data management, technology, accounting, and legal services. While handling the projects, she has witnessed a lot of changes over the years. She has been thoroughly researching and sharing her viewpoints about these industry trends and changes on many platforms across the Internet.

ASEAN

Global Trade Talk: Navigating Geopolitical Currents in a Changing Southeast Asia

Global Trade Talk is part of an ongoing series highlighting international business, trade, investment, and site location issues and opportunities. This article focuses on the conversation between Simon Tay, Chairman of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs and Keith Rabin, President, KWR International, Inc.

Hello Simon. How have you been? Before we begin can you tell our readers about your background and current activities?

I am Chairman of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA). We focus on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a regional organization comprised of ten countries in Southeast Asia, as well as the wider Asia Pacific and Singapore’s role as a hub for trade and investment and greater integration in the region. This includes a range of geopolitical issues including the rise of China, the role of the US, and most recently the coronavirus pandemic, which is serving as an accelerator for changes that have been occurring over the last decade.

Professionally, I am an attorney and was a member of Parliament from 1997-2001, serving during the Asian financial crisis. Then during the 2008 global financial crisis, I was stationed in New York at the Asia Society where we first met. These experiences have given me a unique perspective on the impact of globalization and other trends we have experienced over the past two decades.

While ASEAN currently possesses the third-largest economy in the Indo-Pacific and fifth largest in the world, many foreigners have never even heard of the regional group nor do they recognize its potential. Can you talk about how ASEAN evolved, what it represents as a commercial market and investment destination, and in terms of security and its global importance? What opportunities and obstacles and investment themes are of particular importance to foreign companies and investors in the coming years?

I don’t blame people for not knowing ASEAN. When one looks to Asia, one’s eyes are first drawn to the giants. China in particular has done very well over the past twenty years and no country has grown faster during that time. As it developed and labor costs and standards of living rose, Southeast Asia began to capture the attention of businesses, and deservedly so. ASEAN now has growing appeal, because of greater integration as we create an ASEAN Community with increased consumption and growth. That is why many people refer to us as the fifth largest economy in the world.

The reality, however, is a bit short of that – as we are not really one country or one system. We are, however, working to realize the “ASEAN 2025 Vision.” This is a roadmap adopted in 2015 to articulate regional goals to create a more cohesive ASEAN Community. SIIA is currently working on the ASEAN mid-term review, which is examining our progress, and how crises such as the pandemic can strengthen our will to more fully integrate. While an unfinished project, given the diversity in the region, it is — in some ways — every bit as ambitious as the establishment of the European Union (EU). The trend is toward closer integration.

Before the Asian financial crisis, which began in the summer of 1997, the region was mostly viewed, at least in the US, through the lens of the Vietnam War. Over the last twenty+ years we have advanced, however, and growth in ASEAN has been reinforced. This is true both in developed countries such as Singapore and Thailand, developing nations such as Vietnam and Myanmar, and those in between. Before the pandemic, ASEAN as a whole was growing at a faster rate than China. While the pandemic is hitting our people and economies hard, the region should still outperform the world.

The fundamentals are real. ASEAN is ascending from a lower base, leaving substantial room for further growth. There are many opportunities as countries raise consumption and leapfrog using software, digital innovation, and a greater online presence. Diverse sectors can do well, including labor-intensive manufacturing, infrastructure, services, consumer markets, and others that are part of the new economy.

As you note many people view ASEAN as being similar to the EU, a vehicle grouping together a group of countries into a more integrated market, though without a common currency. Is that fair and can you talk about both the diversity of ASEAN as well as the steps being taken to link these ten nations into a more cohesive entity? Is it possible for companies to have an “ASEAN strategy” or should they be looking at individual markets?

Given what I said about ASEAN, and how it is not yet a cohesive union, that is a very good question. The answer is yes and yes. Movement toward greater integration is very clear but we are not like China or the EU where you can put up one office and that’s it for the region. In a way, this is an economic strength as well as a political challenge.

In ASEAN you have an opportunity to link supply chains from a hub like Singapore, which offers first-class amenities, to less developed markets with eager and driven populations rising out of poverty and looking for jobs in factories and a more modern lifestyle. Myanmar for example is a sizable country with a pool of young people looking for jobs and a government seeking to develop. Myanmar also has a sizable expatriate population that has lived and worked in countries such as Singapore and Thailand, as well as Australia, Europe and the US, where they received education and training. Now their economies are opening – and they are returning with capacity, experience and ideas to implement change. So these countries are not starting from zero.

In between, you have countries such as Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. Labor there remains hungry for work, the land is relatively cheap and demand is growing. Today, a lot of attention is focused on Vietnam in particular. This is a country of almost 100 million young, dynamic, and hard-working people, which is well on its way to becoming a competitive supply base for many products.

ASEAN also benefits from not being China. Our diversity offers a decentralized model that adds diversification to global supply chains. It can be more complex to work across ASEAN — there is no one President or government to go to – but it is also less risky for those who can manage across borders – as it is not a case where if one government or economy fails, then the investor also fails. Moreover, ASEAN is not a threat to anyone politically. Vietnam for example has a trade surplus with the US whereas Singapore has a deficit.

Those who invest in ASEAN benefit from having an alternative to China, though are still located in this growing region. This allows synergies with production clusters based there. Being in ASEAN allows companies and investors to benefit and participate in this growing regional economy without putting more eggs into the China basket.

You mentioned the US has enjoyed strong ties with ASEAN since its birth in 1967. This was a time when the US sought to develop regional allies in the face of the Vietnam and Cold Wars. Today, however, despite a move to initiate an “Asian Pivot” under the Obama administration and talk of the “Indo-Pacific” under President Trump, some question US commitment to the region. How do you view the US presence and role within ASEAN? What should US companies and leaders know about ASEAN and how does their presence compare to other nations including Japan, Korea, Australia, and the EU?

The US remains an important partner and market for ASEAN and when looking at its involvement in the region, there are three strands we can talk about. The first is like an underlying current in the ocean, the second is the waves on top, and third like a bright object on the surface. If you look at the current, the destiny of the US remains very much an outward one. It is the country that created the modern world and global trading system you and I have grown up in. It was built to America’s advantage and I think this strong current of the US having shaped and benefitted from this world is ever-present despite current tensions. So we have not seen, whichever President, a lack of interest from US business, its military or security establishment. So whether you call it an Asian Pivot, Indo-Pacific region or before that the War on Terrorism, we believe this current can and should have reasons to continue.

At the same time, there are waves on the surface. These are more noticeable, as it is hard to see the underlying current unless you put your hand deep below. The waves do matter and I would say right now they are choppy and we are now going through a period where Americans are questioning globalization and retreating from multilateralism and international engagement. I was in Seattle during the 1999 WTO protests. At the time President Clinton had the political savvy to suggest we let these voices in to assuage concerns – even as he was the president who signed and implemented the NAFTA agreement. As a result, after a time, things calmed down and the situation became less tense for the moment.

Since then, however, the waves have gotten more turbulent, and it is important to recognize the tensions that brought Trump into office are not singular to him. Remember that Hillary Clinton responded to those choppy waves in her election bid. She supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement while Secretary of State, and yet as a candidate against Trump, she too expressed doubts about the TPP. So it is not just the Trump administration and we can see a wave of US constituencies questioning and expressing concerns.

The concern is rising to the point where now even the underlying current of outward movement that I mentioned is less visible. Companies are now being judged by how many jobs they are reshoring and their loyalty to America and American jobs. This is now seen as more important than an overall win-win growing the global economic pie paradigm, which has guided the thinking of policymakers and companies for decades.

And then there is the ball or float which can be seen in tweets and incendiary rhetoric. These attract a lot of attention and concern but they are not necessarily consistent. You mentioned the Indo-Pacific strategy and frankly, I haven’t really seen one. I have seen Indo-Pacific statements and senior US officials talking about issues, but I haven’t seen an overall strategy tying things together. I have to say I view this from an ASEAN perspective and generally, ASEAN is the final stop after a comprehensive strategy dealing with other parts of Asia is finalized.

There is also much less US involvement in multilateral institutions. This is important given the nature of the problems the world faces today. I also think the State Department itself has less access and the whole US establishment which has guided foreign policy and economic engagement, has been weakened.

At the same time other countries – and China in particular – have upped their game. They engage us, not only at the top level – but very thoroughly on an ongoing basis.  Ambassadors of these countries, whether you agree with them or not, are out all the time engaging people, and are much more present. The US is still here but less than in the past. Take something as simple as Ambassadors. How many ASEAN countries have sitting US Ambassadors? And if you talk with the ones that are here, how much access do they have into Washington and White House decision-making at a high level? Stove-piping is always a problem in big countries, but it is now becoming a more serious issue.

Since the early days of ASEAN, China has developed rapidly and has now become the world’s second-largest economy. It is also a major driver of economic growth and seeks greater regional and global influence through vehicles such as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), at a time when the US is backing away from multilateral institutions and its traditional role as a global leader on a range of important issues. As tensions rise between China and the US, both in terms of trade as well as influence and security, how is the region affected, and what are the challenges ASEAN countries face in navigating this changing environment?

The pandemic makes a vast difference. We are trying to figure out in a post-pandemic world whether China or the US will recover faster and at the moment the answer seems to be China. It is still early, however, and of course, there is now an outbreak in Beijing so we will have to see. At the same time within China, there seems to be a growing understanding they need to remain engaged with the outside world. They also did not have this pre-pandemic spirit of isolationism and questioning of whether it is good for China to export and invest abroad. So unlike the US, they did not come into this with a globalization backlash, strengthened further by the pandemic.

Singapore recently entered into a “green lane” agreement with China for business travel and Singapore-based businesses of all nationalities can now travel to six cities and regions of China with minimal testing as a first step toward reopening our borders. This is not political but an effort to restore supply chain links and our ability to operate as a hub while maintaining decent safety levels. We are also trying to open Australia and New Zealand, and other countries in ASEAN, but those discussions are not yet concluded.

Also, if you look back to the global financial crisis of 2008, it is notable that Asia and China kept growing. While the US did not shrink, in relative terms its global market share declined. That caused an adjustment similar to when an elevator goes up and suddenly stops. I feel if the US does not respond correctly to the current situation, we may experience another of those adjustments; it doesn’t mean the US will fade and fall down the elevator shaft, but there will be another jerky moment and perceptions in this part of the world will shift further as they did after the onset of the global financial crisis.

That said, people in ASEAN want more US involvement and encourage US investment and more participation by US firms. We think of the market and technology as rational and neutral, but it is beginning to get colored. Meaning if people think the winner will be China there is a tendency to go more in that direction – even though we are still fighting to keep things as neutral, rational, and as inclusive as possible. You can see that in the struggle over the decision this week to award Singapore’s 5G network to Ericsson and Nokia, though it still maintained a smaller role for Huawei.

In the past, there was a belief in the west that China’s development would lead it toward a more democratic form of government and integration within the global trading system that arose following the Second World War. In recent years it has become apparent this is not the case and China is embarking on its own path. This has led to growing concerns about China’s aspirations and efforts to exert global leadership and establish standards in new technologies as seen its “Made in China 2025 initiative”, its policy toward Hong Kong and Taiwan, cybersecurity and privacy, social credit scoring and other policies, practices, and beliefs. Do you share these concerns? How does China’s model translate to ASEAN and do you see a new “Cold War” developing in which countries will be asked to choose sides?

I have studied, lived in, and like the US, but never assumed China would become more democratic. I believe the Party will have to evolve and change in response to China’s development but never assumed this would necessarily be in a democratic direction. When I look at the region beyond China, I would also say most in Asia are not a democracy in the US-style. Even look at Japan, which you Keith know well. It is not a one-party system like China but it is not a US-style democracy. Neither is Singapore. We will have an election here in less than two weeks, yet there is almost no doubt which party will win. So I am not sure you as an American would describe such systems as democracy.

So I do not look at China through an ideological lens of democracy and have always thought China would do what made sense for China. As neighbors, we do have to figure out whether what is good for China will be a threat to us, rather than win-win. This applies when we look at Chinese investment; we tend to look at it through pragmatic calculations. I do not begin with the assumption that it is an attempt to politically suborn every place where they invest. There are of course risks that remain but they can be managed. For example, with BRI we have talked to Myanmar and others about the risks of unproven projects that burden them with high debt. That is Singapore’s style. We initiate projects incrementally. We start with one terminal and gradually expand to five, or one chemical factory into a large complex as demand is proven. We have an idea of where we want to go – but build incrementally rather than start with grand projects.

That is why you now see a number of Singapore industrial parks in Vietnam. These parks are not just physical spaces. Some provide training, education, and skills development for local workers so they can better serve companies based there. This helps our neighbors while developing our role as a hub. Singapore companies are also involved in BRI. For example, Surbana Jurong provides consultancy services to some Chinese investors in ASEAN countries, as well as acting for the hosts on other occasions. The Port of Singapore Authority (PSA) is also pushing out into the region and beyond; recently opening a joint port in Greece with Cosco, a Chinese shipping line. So Singaporean efforts are to seek cooperation and commercial deals that look non-ideologically to support globalization and free trade around the world.

The bigger question is the “new Cold War” between the USA and China. We do feel it. We try to make rational decisions based on market principles but increasingly everything is reduced to whether “you are for or against China or the US.” For the AIIB, Singapore participated from the start because infrastructure is a big issue in the region. We are in the Asian Development Bank (ADB) too and the World Bank. We think there is no reason we can’t be in more than one, and I do not see why the US objected to the AIIB or what was the alternative they were offering. On the other hand, when American’s spoke about the Indo-Pacific we were happy to work with our ASEAN colleagues to develop an ASEAN understanding and response.

The view of the Indo-Pacific that ASEAN has developed is slightly different than the US, as our goal was to make it more inclusive and not just for democracies. But we do agree a larger framework for the region is necessary. For Singapore, as close friends with India, we have no problems working with them as well and continue to hope they will become more and more integrated with the region.

Even before the coronavirus and heightened US-China trade tensions, corporations were beginning to reevaluate global supply chains to lessen their reliance on Chinese production. Many view ASEAN as a natural beneficiary, offering cost and diversification benefits. As a result, we see many clients giving the region more consideration given its strategic location, strong infrastructure and its ability to bridge operations that had been based in China and still rely on inputs from there. How do you view ASEAN’s potential as the region rises in importance as a hub within the global supply chain? What are the prospects for developing and more developed countries in ASEAN– as well as integration between the two, for example, the relationship between Singapore and Batam/Bintan and the Riau Islands, where we have been active for many years, located in Indonesia only 12 miles away?

Our greatest fear is not a splintering of global supply chains but rather the idea of bringing everything back home in response to growing nationalism. Big countries sometimes think they can do that – whether it is the US, China, India, or even Indonesia. They believe they can produce everything for themselves and capture their own market. We used to see this in the “import substitution” and “beggar thy neighbor” days. That is something we need to work together to avoid. Post-pandemic there will be exceptions and a degree of self-supply is important, for example with masks and ventilators, to prevent a cut-off of supply. Similarly, markets such as Singapore which imports almost 100% of its food supply, need to rethink being completely reliant on offshore sourcing. But we need to make sure that tilt does not go too far.

But I would emphasize we are not going to exclude China either. The interesting question is whether we still believe in global supply chains. I think the answer is that we do, provided that security and other key concerns can still be addressed. If that is the case, countries that can provide that, who can reliably manage increasing supply chain complexity with good governance and rule of law, with an ability to deliver will be rewarded. ASEAN and Singapore are well-positioned in that regard.

The larger danger is that countries retreat back completely to a reliance on national production and protectionism. It is a lesser danger for supply chains to split into two, one being the US and the other a Chinese supply chain. Sometimes it is important for other countries to have guts and stand up against that and bullying from either side. This is especially important during the pandemic when some powerful countries were trying to grab masks and other medical supplies for themselves when these had been contracted to others. For Singapore, and for me as an attorney and international lawyer, I emphasize the importance of fulfilling contracts. This does not always work to our advantage in Singapore. Sometimes in the pandemic, neighbors cut off supply but we still try our best to observe our commitments. The rule of law is important. The bottom line is – trust is something you can’t ditch in a crisis.

You ask about Batam and Bintan as part of our strategy to expand across the region. These islands are part of Indonesia but stand just a small distance from Singapore. Back in the early 1990s, there was a lot of excitement in Singapore about their development as an early step in regionalization and cross border cooperation. They are still significant; proximity still matters, but not quite as much as before. Other opportunities arise, and regionalization has deepened. One newer aspect is whether that proximity is connected to another market.

For example, a major Singaporean company now has an industrial park operating in central Java that caters to Indonesia, rather than offshore markets like Batam and Bintan. Singapore also has more than seven industrial parks in Vietnam – and we do more there than in these Indonesian islands nearest us. Why? It is not because we do not like Batam and Bintan; they also have a role to play. But they do not enjoy any special preferences or contiguous market, have no natural workforce so workers there are imported from other parts of Indonesia. In the end, they remain useful, allow easy commuting, but do not provide a definitive advantage in an environment characterized by deeper and more complex regional integration.

ASEAN has been severely affected by the coronavirus – and by most measures handled the pandemic relatively well. Can you talk about how the virus has been handled in Singapore and other countries in ASEAN, the nature of regional cooperation, and how the pandemic is likely to affect economic and other aspects of integration moving forward? What lessons should the US take from the ASEAN experience dealing with the virus?

There are differences in how ASEAN countries have handled this and from what we can see, Vietnam has come out on top in terms of controlling the pandemic. In Singapore, the overall national numbers may look scary, but it is under control for most of the community though the problem is acute within the foreign work dormitories which account for the bulk of numbers.

Singapore has a strong health system and has ramped up testing and treatment facilities; our medical system has coped and there has been a very low mortality rate. Malaysia and Thailand are also doing relatively well. For Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar the numbers seem ok but it is really hard to know for sure, given low levels of testing. In Southeast Asia, I think the biggest worry is Indonesia where numbers are beginning to rise while the country faces strong economic pressure to reopen.

A key question is transparency. The more you test the more you find cases. So we look at testing rates as an indicator. In Singapore, we have good testing for a small population. As testing increased in dorms for migrant workers, this caused our numbers to really jump. It was just last week that Indonesia overtook us as having the most cases – and we have to ask why did it take that long? Basically, many countries are not testing enough. When they do test, it is for confirmed cases and not more generally – and the number of tests per million is very low. So from the reported numbers, the situation may look acceptable, but no one can be quite sure.

The current question is how to ease up the restrictions to restart the economy and allow travel across borders. There are worries about importing cases and all countries have at least temporarily closed off tourism, which are important parts of their economies. In the pipeline, I think green lanes for business are possible. But there will continue to be concerns about large numbers of tourists unless easy and reliable testing and (ideally) vaccines are ready. So we will have to figure out how to manage borders – allowing transport of workers as well as goods and services – to restart our economies and manage our integration and supply chains in an increasingly interdependent region.

One of the things we have learned is we have to be open to help from outside and cooperation is critical. In early February we first had a China-ASEAN meeting on how to deal with the virus and it was just China, but then we had an ASEAN Summit and this was notable in bringing in Japan and Korea – two countries that have the industry and technology needed to help. Now some of us are advocating Australia and New Zealand also need to be added as well. If we address the pandemic together – we have a much better chance of containing and dealing with it. Harmonizing our approaches to treatment and travel is important. Multilateral dialogue and cooperation are essential and world leaders should encourage talk rather than just closing borders.

India also represents a major economy that borders ASEAN and has traditionally had a major impact though often gets overlooked given the attention paid to China. What is your view on India as a regional and global player and how important is its economy to the development of ASEAN and how should companies be approaching this important market? Additionally, any thoughts on current tensions between India and China?

Last year before the pandemic we had the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) discussions which could potentially not only open up India but bring India more into the region as a major global manufacturer and supplier – much as China embarked on that path decades ago. RCEP’s importance rose after the US withdrew from TPP negotiations, and aimed to bring together all ASEAN members and our key trading partners — including India, Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea. But it seems the Indians didn’t like that vision or thought the costs of opening up their market were too high and walked away.

They thought they could scupper the whole initiative, but ASEAN has decided to go ahead without them. That was not our hope and it would have been much better to include them, but we were not going to let India veto RCEP, and it will now proceed, aiming to conclude by the end of 2020. I always tell my Indian friends we have to move – particularly now with the pandemic – and they would be advised to jump on board.

India has tremendous potential and their size and promise will always be there – but it is a bit like a giant universe operating by itself – cut off from the outside. That is sad as there are some really top-class Indian companies that can more than compete in the region. But India as a whole has not really been fully engaged. The politics are complicated – and while Singapore remains great friends of India – it remains to be seen if a path forward can be found. If Prime Minister Modi with all the support he enjoys is not willing to open up, how and when will it happen? Compound that with the pandemic and a lack of desire to integrate, and my fear is India will miss the boat.

For Indonesia, the largest country in ASEAN, it’s different. They know investors are questioning reliance on China because of costs and Sino-American conflict and are working to catch the attention to join global chains and attract more investment to create more and better paying industrial jobs. They are trying but it won’t be easy. China has retained many supply chains, and many that moved decided to go to Vietnam.  One Indonesian minister I know quite well is working hard to attract jobs and promote innovation and some companies are moving to base there. The minister told me his scorecard is based on an ability to attract foreign investors and industry. It will be difficult, but it is good they are trying. India, however, has mostly been sitting on the sidelines and it may only get harder over time.

Singapore is one of the world’s great success stories and has become a preferred destination to establish businesses and operate for companies in a wide range of sectors, including as a world financial center. For many years we operated our own company there as a base for activities in Myanmar, Indonesia and other ASEAN markets which lacked the same level of infrastructure, governance and services. Does the Singapore model hold, and what changes need to be made, as neighboring countries develop? Can you tell us about current Singapore initiatives, the upcoming election and the “bubbles” that are being created for business, travel and trade?

Singapore understands we serve as a hub for the region and if we cut ourselves off due to the pandemic and health reasons, we will find ourselves in a bubble that does not have enough air for all of us. You can live your life that way if you need to, but resources become scarce and it will not be much of a life. So we have to reopen, and all small economies face similar issues. New Zealand for example is further away but faces similar decisions.

That is why we talk about green lanes and bubbles. We need to start but in a controlled way with trusted partners. In the past, we were wide open. When you entered Changi Airport, even before you got to the doors, they opened wide. There was seldom a line and often no one even checked your luggage. Now, while I have not been there in five months, I imagine the scanners are working overtime. You need to show a health certificate and the process is much more cautious and guarded.

My analogy is that we have gone from an automatic door and seamless travel to a situation that requires a special pass and perhaps a key before you will be able to pass. Safety concerns are a priority. But for Singapore, the important thing is the doors need to remain open even if there are more checks and verifications to ensure adequate safety and easy passage. Singapore is committed to that. The government just formed a new public-private partnership called the “Emerging Stronger Task Force”. This will gather ideas on how to develop new processes and procedures to get better ideas on Singapore’s economic strengths, and how to move forward into the “new normal” in the wake of the pandemic.

It won’t be easy. But when I look back, there is reason to believe we can rise to the challenges. Singapore came out stronger from the Asian financial crisis and we are determined to do that again. That was true after the global financial crisis as well. If we get it right, Singapore can come out stronger this time as well. Of course, we could get it wrong and have made mistakes along the way;  two recoveries do not automatically translate into a third so we have to be careful not to have hubris and to work hard and innovate to succeed.

As you know we have been active and involved with Myanmar’s development for many decades, and one of the more interesting developments – at least in terms of Singapore – are long term plans to develop deep seaports in Kyauphyu, which would provide a land route into China. This initiative would allow shippers to bypass the Straits of Malacca and the Port of Singapore which has long dominated trade in the region. How do you view Myanmar’s prospects and the potential of these projects?

Do we see other ports in the region as a direct threat to Singapore? The answer is no. We think win-win. Our ports are busy and before the pandemic operated almost at full capacity. If Asia continues to grow, the volume of traffic will grow even more. The PSA has been expanding internationally to places in the region and beyond. Moreover, within Singapore land is very valuable and there is a plan to create a new mega port named Tuas in the north of the island. The current site of one port is very close to the city and is such valuable land that, rather than stacking containers, far more value can be realized if it is used for real estate and infrastructure development. So while we do want Singapore to continue as a major port, this means that we welcome and want to participate in growth across the region.

As for Myanmar more generally, we are very encouraged and remain positive. We would love to see them come up like Vietnam. As mentioned, there are several Singaporean industrial parks there and while there are none are as yet in Myanmar – we have very good relationships there and see lots of potential. Many people from Myanmar received their education and training in Singapore and many Myanmar companies rely on Singapore for banking, legal and financial services. So there are extensive people-people relationships and we want to help and be part of their development. Also, two of the most active banks in Myanmar, UOB and OCBC are from Singapore and as Myanmar opens up and liberalizes they are seeking to increase their presence.

Thank you Simon for your time and attention. Look forward to speaking again soon!

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Keith Rabin serves as President at KWR International, Inc., a global consulting firm specializing in international market entry; trade, business, investment and economic development; site location, as well as research and public relations/ public affairs services for a wide range of corporate and government clients.

Knowledge management

The Design and Implementation of Effective Knowledge Management System in Multinational Corporations

Executives agree with Doyle McCarthy, who sees society as a product of knowledge. [1] Defining culture as various forms of knowledge and symbols that make up an organization’s culture. However, knowledge is a by-product of culture and knowledge’s role in guiding and facilitating people’s action is key to executive decision-making.

Knowledge also creates values, thereby fulfilling the strategic functions of “producing and guiding social action, of integrating social organizations, of protecting the identity of individuals and groups, of legitimatizing both actions and authorities, and of serving as an ideology for individuals, groups, classes, and entire nations”. [2] In addition, Thomas Beckman explains that knowledge management is “the formalization of and access to experience, knowledge and expertise that create new capabilities, enable superior performance, encourages innovation and enhances customer value,” [3]  and Bernard Marr and his colleagues define knowledge management as a set of activities and processes aimed at creating value through generating and applying intellectual capital.

[4] Moreover, knowledge management has also been regarded as a “conscious strategy of getting the right knowledge to the right people at the right time and helping people share and put information into action in ways that strive to improve organizational performance”. [5] Executives direct practices that create value from intangible organizational resources. For executives, it is clear that the objective of managing knowledge is to add value to organizations. The focus here is that executives consider the fact a firm’s knowledge is positively associated with its outcomes. This article portrays a more detailed picture of the effects of leadership and organizational factors on knowledge management performance that have been mentioned but not placed in a model in the past. Executives can use the model proposed in this article to improve knowledge management performance in companies.

What Can Executives Take From Previous Academic Research?

Executives that manage knowledge and use it as an important driving force for business success find their organization to be more competitive and on the cutting edge. However, knowledge management implementation in organizations is determined by a set of critical success factors, one of which is the strategic dimension of leadership. For now, executives can develop conducive organizational climates that foster collaboration and organizational learning in which knowledge, as a driver of improved performance, is shared and exploited. Academicians point out that if leaders do not adequately support knowledge dissemination and creation through various mechanisms such as rewards or recognition for employees who create new ideas or share their knowledge with others, knowledge management cannot be successful.

Furthermore, it is safe to say that knowledge management effectiveness can be enhanced today with the use of information technology. Information technology can play a critical role in the success of knowledge management.

For instance, a scholar in Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) by the name of Kuan Yew Wong highlights the importance of information technology in facilitating knowledge flow and communication. [6] Ying-Jung Yeh and his colleagues at the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology and National Chung Cheng University indicate that the effectiveness of knowledge management implementation is positively associated with using information technology and setting up useful software and systems to enhance strategic decision-making. [7] Effective leaders can, therefore, develop information technology through employing IT professionals and allocating more budgetary resources to share and utilize knowledge within organizations.

Moreover, it is clear that executives around the globe realize that they play a critical role to achieve the best climate and for implementing knowledge management that creates learning and growing the organization. Engaging followers and getting them to participate in leadership activities is an important part of knowledge management practices. Scholars subsequently suggest that success is also dependent upon how executives formulated their organization’s mission, vision, and strategy.

The key is for executives to inculcate an effective strategy, culture and structure so that information can be found and used instantaneously. The fact that executives steer the strategic direction of organizations is indicative of empowering people and making them more responsive to the constant changes in technology, economic fluctuations, and other pertinent and vita changes that occur on a day-to-day basis.

Executives Are Now Introduced to the Proposed Model

Based on an integrated framework of the above ideas and scholarly research, I depict and applicable and reliable model for executives as Figure 1. This framework of the model highlights a relationship between knowledge management, leadership, strategy, culture, structure and information technology. I show the relationships in Figure 1. In Figure 1, leadership has a positive impact on knowledge management which leads to higher knowledge management performance. And finally, better strategy, better culture, better structure and better information technology lead to better  performance.

In Conclusion

This article blends scholarly concepts with real world application and investigates how scholarly research can be applied in the organizational boardroom. Also, scholars see that I expand upon the subject matter of organizational factors. Through introducing a more comprehensive model for implementation, I add to the current and extant literature. In particular, I suggest that if these factors are not completely in favor of supporting knowledge management, organizations cannot effectively implement knowledge management projects and may become obsolete, taken over, or acquired.

__________________________________________________________________

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

[1] McCarthy, E.D. (1996). Knowledge as Culture: The New Sociology of Knowledge, New York: Routledge.

[2] Strasser, H., & Kleiner, M. (1998).  Knowledge as Culture: The New Sociology of Knowledge, European Sociological Review, 14(3), 315-318.

[3] Beckman, T.J. (1999). The Current State of Knowledge Management. In J. Liebowitz, (Eds.), Knowledge Management Handbook, New York: CRC Press.

[4] Marr, B., Gupta, O., Roos, G., & Pike, S. (2003). Intellectual Capital and Knowledge Management Effectiveness. Management Decision, 41(8), 771-781.

[5] O’Dell C., & Grayson C.J. (1998). If only we knew what we know: identification and transfer of international best practices, New York: Free Press.

[6] Wong, K.Y. (2005). Critical Success Factors for Implementing Knowledge Management in Small and Medium Enterprises. Industrial Management & Data Systems, 105(3), 261-279.

[7] Yeh, Y.J., Lai, S.Q., & Ho, C.T. (2006). Knowledge management enabler: a case study. Industrial Management & Data Systems, 106(6), 793-810.

coronavirus

How the Coronavirus Pandemic has Diversified UK Business

As the Coronavirus pandemic has altered our ways of living and working – potentially for good – it has sent shockwaves through areas of UK business previously thought untouchable.

The thriving food and hospitality sector has steadily grown over recent years but faces an uncertain future as social distancing becomes a new norm of everyday life.

Of course, some industries have enjoyed something of a boon during the lockdown as their products, services, and expertise have come to the fore, or been adapted to suit the needs of the population.

How have businesses altered their offering?

Many eateries have kept afloat by switching their sit-down service to take-out or delivery, while robotic delivery of food and drink in Milton Keynes could offer a glimpse into the future of the industry, long after Covid-19’s grip on our daily lives has subsided.

The airline industry has been similarly decimated as planes have been grounded but swapping passengers for cargo has allowed some to maintain business.

Land-based delivery services have thrived, especially those connected to online shopping, like our trips to the high street or retail centers have been curtailed by the lockdown.

This has not come without the need for a change to regular services, however, with health and safety now more paramount, businesses have needed to be agile in swiftly adapting sanitary and sterile methods of delivery especially when dealing with at-risk customers.

Can businesses help in the fight against Coronavirus?

Some of the biggest swings in business have seen entities completely change their line of work in a bid to help fight the virus.

Producing personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks, gowns, and gloves, has become a priority for many textile companies.

In the bid to build more hospital equipment, Formula 1 teams used their engineering might take on the task. World champion outfit Mercedes produced a ventilator which was used in a trial by the NHS and made the plans freely available for other manufacturers to build their own versions.

As the need for clear public communication has risen, printing business instant print was marked as NHS supply chain critical, producing an adapted product range including posters, signage, floor stickers and more to be used in a host of healthcare settings.

Will UK businesses recover after Coronavirus?

This is a tricky question to answer, as to how our daily lives will look once the pandemic subsides remains a grey area.

As scientific exploration into the virus continues, the threat of a ‘second wave’ of illnesses sweeping the world is set to make the resumption of our previous ways of life something that is implemented slowly, if indeed some things we used to take for granted ever do return to our daily routines.

Work settings may change, infrastructure will likely have to be adapted to suit a more socially distant population. How crowds gathering in shops, restaurants, bars, concerts, sporting events and more will be managed is almost impossible to predict as simply containing the virus still remains the highest priority.

As some countries begin to tentatively emerge from lockdown and try to get to grips with a ‘new normal’, the world will look to the likes of Australia and New Zealand for cues, while China has also looked to restore many of the social liberties that were taken away when the virus began to spread in its Hubei province.

If your business has been impacted by the Coronavirus, perhaps some of the examples above can help guide you through the rocky times or inspire a change of direction that may bring greater success once the pandemic passes.

young workers

YOUNG WORKERS WILL BE THE LONG-TERM CASUALTIES OF COVID-19

They are the ones who will bear the brunt of the coronavirus recession.

A little more than a decade ago, millennial college students graduated into what was then the worst economy in decades. In the United States, the Great Recession wreaked long-term damage on young people, many of whom faced slim job prospects along with mountains of student debt. Compared to earlier generations, these young adults today have less wealth, more debt and are less likely to be financially secure.

Today’s youngest workers could have it even worse. Young workers – who make up a disproportionate share of workers in hospitality, food service, retail and other service industries hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic – are likely to shoulder the worst of the coming recession.

Young workers: first to feel the pain

Young workers have been among the first to feel the pain as the restaurant, retail, and hotel industries reel from the initial impacts of the pandemic. Marriott, for instance, has furloughed tens of thousands of employees. So, too, have Hilton and Hyatt. Many small businesses are forced to close shop or lay off most of their workforce. The National Restaurant Association reports that business dropped by nearly half among its members just in the first half of March.

Labor According to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics, workers between the ages of 20 and 24 account for nearly one-third of restaurant waitstaff, one-fourth of all retail cashiers, and one-fifth of all retail salesclerks. Young workers also occupy a large share of other entry-level service jobs in entertainment and hospitality, such as hotel and motel desk clerks (one-third), ushers and ticket-takers (one-fifth) and baggage handlers (one-sixth).

Young people also make up a disproportionate share of the low-wage workforce hardest hit by the pandemic, period, according to new research from the Brookings Institution. Scholars Martha Ross, Nicole Bateman, and Alec Friedhoff find that workers ages 18 to 24 comprise nearly one in four low-wage workers, with the most common occupations being retail, food service, and lower-level administrative support. Many of these young workers can ill afford any loss of income: Among the 13 percent who lack a college degree, the median hourly wage is just $8.55. Worse yet, one in five of these workers is the sole earner in their family; 14 percent are also caring for children.

NiNis worldwide

A new crop of “not in school, not working”

Even before the current crisis, many young people were already in dire economic circumstances. According to the Social Science Research Council, as many as 4.5 million young adults ages 16 to 24 were not in school nor working in 2017, the latest year for which data are available. No doubt this figure has already skyrocketed.

Unfortunately, unemployment might be only the start of young workers’ worries in the coming months.

The sudden closure of colleges and universities means that multiple cohorts of students are missing out on opportunities to lay the foundations of their future careers. “Job fairs and internships have been called off, as have debating competitions, graduate school admission tests and conferences that are essential opportunities to network and get jobs,” writes The Hechinger Report.

A different economy after COVID

Other hazards also loom in the future job market that could disadvantage younger workers. For instance, the pandemic may also accelerate the push to automation, as researchers Mark Muro, Robert Maxim and Jacob Whiton of the Brookings Institution argue, which would also hit younger workers the hardest. According to their analysis, as many of 49 percent of workers ages 16 to 24 are in jobs vulnerable to automation.

Moreover, the current massive disruptions in higher education and in business likely also mean that skills gaps will worsen as training programs are put on hold and businesses struggle simply to survive. Shortages of qualified workers will not only significantly hamper recovery efforts in the future but handicap current industries’ efforts to retool themselves to a radically changed environment.

Vulnerable young workers

Worldwide impacts for youth workers

The same story is playing out globally. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), young people are roughly twice as likely to be unemployed compared to adults. After the global recession in 2009, adult employment grew uninterrupted but the number of young people employed contracted by more than 15 percent. In 2018, 21.2 percent of global youth were neither employed nor in education and training.

The COVID-19 pandemic is inducing a global labor shock both because workers cannot carry out their jobs and may have lost their jobs, but also because consumer demand especially in services industries has fallen off and could be slow to return to previous levels. In a vicious cycle, billions in lost labor income will further suppress the consumption of goods and services. At the beginning of April, the ILO estimated global unemployment would rise between 5.3 million and 24.7 million, but with 22 million Americans alone filing for unemployment over the last four weeks, this estimate is already vastly inaccurate. The long-term damage to young workers’ prospects is incalculable.

What next?

Economies around the world are already responding with rescue packages aimed at blunting some of the economic hardship the pandemic is creating. But as the crisis wears on and, with luck, economies can begin to recover, the long-term plight of young workers will need much more attention.

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Anne Kim is a contributing editor to Washington Monthly and the author of Abandoned: America’s Lost Youth and the Crisis of Disconnection, forthcoming in 2020 from the New Press. Her writings on economic opportunity, social policy, and higher education have appeared in numerous national outlets, including the Washington Monthly, the Washington Post, Governing and Atlantic.com, among others. She is a veteran of the think tanks the Progressive Policy Institute and Third Way as well as of Capitol Hill, where she worked for Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN). Anne has a law degree from Duke University and a bachelor’s in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

This article originally appeared on TradeVistas.org. Republished with permission.

recruiting

COVID-19 will Change Job Recruiting; Here’s How Companies Need To Adapt.

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the business world and put tens of millions out of work in the U.S. At the same time, it’s caused a seismic shift in the way many companies operate, the biggest change being that more business functions are done while working remotely.

But along with the work-from-home aspect, the fallout from the coronavirus will fundamentally change recruiting and hiring practices long after the pandemic has passed, says Jack Whatley (www.humancodeofhiring.com), a recruiting strategist who specializes in creating employer branding campaigns.

“Social distancing, shelter-in-place orders, and the forced closing of businesses will change the way we look at employment,” Whatley says. “No longer will the promises of changing the world attract the modern workforce. Safety and job stability are at the top of the mind for the modern job seeker – and that changed what they want in a job.

“Businesses will have to become employee-centric as well as customer-centric. The companies that have the ability to capture that part of the employee message, put it into their employer branding, and reinforce it throughout recruitment marketing campaigns are going to be the companies moving ahead in a much different world.”

As states begin different stages of reopening for business, Whatley breaks down what companies should do when recruiting, hiring, and re-hiring:

Create a communication campaign. “If you’re a company that laid off employees with the hope of bringing them back, you have to reach out with genuine communication that goes the extra mile,” Whatley says. “It should let them know in detail what steps the company is taking. Those people who were let go unexpectedly and lived paycheck to paycheck, they’ll be emotionally drained and stressed. A company bringing them back needs to make them feel valued so the company doesn’t lose that relationship.”

Be careful in rehiring. Rehires won’t be a straightforward process for some companies. Circumstances won’t allow them to rehire or bring back from furlough all of their former employees. “Employers must be cautious in determining who to bring back to the workplace; they need to mitigate the risk of potential discrimination claims, which could be based on the decision not to bring back certain employees,” Whatley says. “Employers will need to have a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for choosing which employees to rehire. Those reasons include seniority, operational needs or documented past performance issues. Employers should document their decision-making process now, before deciding who will be invited back.”

Focus on expanded employee rights. Whatley thinks a new appreciation for workers may be emerging as state and local governments mandate paid sick leave and family leave during the outbreak. Some companies are shifting their focus to hourly workers as well for those perks. “This change could become permanent,” Whatley says, “as organizations work hard to hire new staff and increase retention rates.”

Streamline the process. “If the recruiting process gets backlogged,” Whatley says, “it causes problems for your current employees and an under-staffed company. It becomes frustrating for them, because they’re forced to work overtime, and the big workload kills morale and increases turnover.”

“Most companies look at hiring people as a transaction – they need to fill a seat,” Whatley says. “They place a job posting and fill the job. In the new world, that will no longer be the case. To get the best talent, companies will have to engage people sooner, more thoughtfully, and put a higher priority on what employees value most in a job.”

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Jack Whatley (www.humancodeofhiring.com) is a recruiting strategist who specializes in creating employer branding campaigns that position companies as the employer of choice in their market. He is the author of the upcoming book Human Code of Hiring: DNA of Recruitment Marketing. Whatley is known for creating successful recruiting and employer branding campaigns and delivering highly-qualified applicants. His Driver DNA Hiring System has made Whatley the No. 1 people ops recruiting strategist for truck driving recruitment in the world. Together with his partner, daughter and innovation wizard Anika Whatley, they have expanded into other industries and have been working to perfect the Human Code DNA Hiring System, which uses the latest technology to improve the quality of worker life and enhance recruiter productivity.

bear

The Bear is Back: A Global Pandemic

The U.S. stock market fell into a bear market on March 12, 2020, ending the bull market that began in 2009. The bull market had begun on March 9, 2009, and peaked on February 19, 2020. The S&P 500 rose 400% between 2009 and 2020, the Dow Jones Industrials rose 351% between 2009 and 2020 and the NASDAQ Composite rose 674% between 2009 and 2020. However, since February 19, 2020, we have seen dramatic declines in all three.

Figure 1. S&P 500, 2009 to 2020

The GFD US-100 Index provides coverage beginning in 1792. By our calculation, there have been twenty-four bull and bear markets since 1792 with four occurring in the 1800s, seventeen in the 1900s, and three in the 2000s. The worst bear market was in 1929-1932, led by an 89% decline in the Dow Jones Industrials. Two prior bear markets in this century both had declines of 50% in 2000-2002 and 2007-2009. By comparison, previous bear markets, such as those occurring in 1987 and 1990, only lasted a few months before a bounce-back.

What is interesting about this current bear is how quickly and how sharply it hit markets throughout the world in response to the spread of the Coronavirus. This was a quick, simultaneous financial pandemic in every nation of the world. In many countries, the 2020 bear market is simply a continuation of the bear market that began in 2018.

The extent of the bear market in 22 countries and for global indices is provided in Table 1 which uses data from the GFDatabase. The table shows the date of the market top, the value the index hit on that date, the change from the previous market low, the current value of the market, and how much each market has fallen since the top in 2018 or 2020. The only major market in the world which has not fallen into a bear market this year is the Chinese market, the country where the coronavirus originated. However, the Chinese market had already been in a state of decline since 2015.

Figure 2. Shanghai Stock Exchange “A” Shares Index, 2010 to 2020

So far, global markets have fallen by around 30-40%. The question is, how much more are the markets likely to fall?  Will this be a short-lived bear market as occurred in 1987 and 1990 or a more extended bear market as occurred in 2000-2002 and 2007-2009?

Figure 3. United States 10-year Bond Yield, 2010 to 2020

It should be noted that fixed-income markets have already hit their bottom in the United States. This occurred on March 9 when the 10-year bond fell below 0.5% as we had previously predicted in the blog “230 Years of Data Show Rates Will Soon Hit 0.50%.” Yields have slightly risen since then. Moreover, the Shanghai Index bottomed out on February 3, 2020, when the stock market reopened after the Chinese New Year and has not participated in the worldwide sell-off. Both of these indicate that this bear market will not continue for an extended period of time. We will update Table 1 on a regular basis so our readers can follow the changes in this COVID bear market.

Table 1.  COVID Bear Market Statistics for 22 Countries and 4 Regions

 

Country

Index

Market Top

Value

Change

Market  Low

Value

Change

Asia
Australia All-Ordinaries 2/20/2020 7255.2 133.16 3/23/2020 4564.1 -37.09
China Shanghai A Shares 6/12/2015 5410.86 165.15 12/27/2018 2600.05 -51.95
Hong Kong Hang Seng 1/26/2018 33154.12 80.98 3/23/2020 21696.13 -32.76
India BSE Sensex 1/14/2020 41952.63 82.79 3/23/2020 25981.24 -38.07
Japan TOPIX 1/23/2018 1911.31 59.77 3/16/2020 1236.34 -35.31
Singapore FTSE ST All-Share 1/24/2018 877.87 40.38 3/23/2020 540.6 -38.42
South Korea Korea SE Price Index 1/29/2018 2598.19 57.21 3/19/2020 1457.64 -43.90
Taiwan Taiwan Weighted 1/14/2020 12179.81 56.41 3/19/2020 8681.34 -28.72
Europe and Africa
Belgium All-Share 4/13/2015 13859.94 104.31 3/18/2020 7202.21 -48.04
France CAC All-Tradable 2/12/2020 4732.14 56.27 3/18/2020 2888.89 -38.95
Germany CDAX Composite 1/23/2018 625.19 50.07 3/18/2020 363.83 -41.80
Italy FTSE Italia All-Share 2/19/2020 27675.06 39.43 3/12/2020 16286.37 -41.15
Netherlands All-Share Index 2/12/2020 904.31 54.15 3/18/2020 574.88 -36.43
Norway OBX Price 9/25/2018 523.06 70.44 3/16/2020 329.67 -36.92
South Africa FTSE All-Share 1/25/2018 61684.8 246.26 3/19/2020 37963 -38.46
Spain Madrid General 4/13/2015 1203.82 99.78 3/16/2020 608.26 -49.47
Sweden OMX All-Share Price 2/19/2020 732.67 68.35 3/23/2020 478.95 -34.63
Switzerland SPI Price Index 2/19/2020 731.04 140.71 3/16/2020 548.52 -24.97
United Kingdom FTSE-100 5/22/2018 7534.4 99.27 3/23/2020 4993.89 -33.72
Americas
Brazil Bovespa 1/23/2020 119528 217.51 3/23/2020 63451.55 -46.91
Canada TSE-300 2/20/2020 17944.1 51.52 3/23/2020 11228.49 -37.43
Mexico Mexico IPC 7/25/2017 51713.38 206.16 3/23/2020 32936.6 -36.31
United States DJIA 2/12/2020 29551.42 351.37 3/23/2020 18576.04 -37.14
United States S&P 500 2/19/2020 3386.15 400.52 3/23/2020 2236.7 -33.95
United States NASDAQ 2/19/2020 9817.18 58.52 3/23/2020 6860.67 -30.12
Global
Emerging Markets MSCI Emerging Free 1/29/2018 1278.53 85.69 3/23/2020 758.204 -40.7
Europe MSCI Europe 1/25/2018 1926.57 47.52 3/23/2020 1152.698 -40.16
World MSCI World 2/12/2020 2434.95 35.63 3/23/2020 1602.105 -34.2
World MSCI EAFE 1/25/2018 2186.65 46.52 3/23/2020 1354.3 -38.07

 

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Dr. Bryan Taylor is President and Chief Economist for Global Financial Data. He received his Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate University in Economics writing about the economics of the arts. He has taught both economics and finance at numerous universities in southern California and in Switzerland. He began putting together the Global Financial Database in 1990, collecting and transcribing financial and economic data from historical archives around the world. Dr. Taylor has published numerous articles and blogs based upon the Global Financial Database, the US Stocks and the GFD Indices. Dr. Taylor’s research has uncovered previously unknown aspects of financial history. He has written two books on financial history.