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Technology and globalization

By Bill Yeargin

Technology and globalization are two trends that are combining with incredible force to significantly impact us all (and our industry). It does not matter if we consider technology and/or globalization as good or bad; they are both changing our world in a big way.

While bringing significant benefits on a global/macro level, both globalization and technology can also bring substantial uncertainty and disruption on a micro level. Change is happening much faster than the world has ever seen and it will materially impact peoples’ lives. However, instead of resisting change and doubling down on the past, we need to look for ways to benefit from the inevitable change to come.

Globalization includes ideas and increasing connectivity that shrinks the world into smaller markets which, facilitated by ease of communication and travel, makes it much easier to do business anywhere and everywhere. The global economy is growing at a breathtaking pace and as I have traveled around the world I have seen this first hand. China sells three times as many cars as the U.S., is home to many of the world’s largest public companies, and is doing a great job of establishing relationships around the globe that will allow them to control the world’s most precious resources. The world’s tallest building is in the Middle East, Macau is a bigger gambling destination than Las Vegas, India has the world’s largest movie industry and refinery, and 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside the U.S. When visiting their countries I have often been asked by foreign government officials what they can do to attract one of our companies to their country; leaders around the world have embraced capitalism and are competing hard to develop their economies. There is no turning back.

The good news is that globalization is pulling billions of people out of poverty and many of those people want U.S. made products. The even better news is that the global growth is not reducing U.S. growth or reducing our piece of the pie; U.S. wealth is growing significantly and globalization is making the overall pie MUCH bigger which benefits everyone.

Technology is also progressing at breakneck speed and will be advancing even faster:

  • Artificial Intelligence is evolving quickly and will be accelerated by cloud computing which will automatically share what one AI system has learned with others. Vladimir Putin recently predicted that whichever country leads in AI will rule the world.
  • Biotech, Biometrics and Genomic advancements will soon significantly change both how we live and how long we live.
  • Nanotechnology will offer us both better products and manufacturing processes.
  • Robotics will eventually help us alleviate labor shortages, significantly improve productivity, and lower costs of products.    
  • 3D printing will not only lower the cost of production, but also dramatically speed up the time to get both industrial and personal goods to consumers.
  • The “Internet of Things” will make the internet even more prevalent but significantly improve efficiency, health, safety, and information flow while lowering costs.
  • Energy will change significantly as we phase out the carbon-based products we have used the past 150 years, resulting in lower costs and a healthier environment.

While these changes can be exciting, they can also be very disruptive. There will not only be a major reset of both companies and people with influence and wealth, but also a potential reset of world powers. Power won’t primarily be a result of ships and planes, but who controls these new technologies. This will result in new entrepreneurs we have not yet heard of who will have major global influence. It will also allow small countries, that today have little global influence, to become major powers.

All of this is not starry-eyed thinking – it is all happening today and heading toward a tipping point that will impact everyone. Trying to hold onto the past (like the videotape rental stores over a decade ago trying to keep their customers) just delays the inevitable and extends the agony. Most people will try to hang on to the past and even many of those who see the changes coming will not know what to do, but, those who are smart and forward thinking will topple today’s leaders (both people and companies). We need to embrace the inevitable and look for ways to take advantage of future changes instead of looking for ways to protect the past.

So, what do we do? We need to embrace the inevitable, see our markets as global, make sure we have a technology strategy (where you are going to be on the innovation adopter curve), and stay aware of the upcoming changes. Knowing the world is changing and embracing it is half the battle.

Finally, as an industry, we should consider spending a day (like last year’s Grow Boating Summit) to discuss the future and how we can protect and advance our position as the world’s leader in recreational boat production.

Bill Yeargin is the president and CEO of Correct Craft.

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