I had the pleasure last night of attending the annual MacLaren Memorial Lecture at Aston University given this year by Sir Martin Sorrell of WPP. In the course of a fascinating talk, Sir Martin touched upon many of the ‘big issues’ from globalisation through to the rise of China (apparently the Chinese leadership don’t even know how many people are in their country), new media and WPP strategy.
He closed his address by offering 10 thoughts on the future. Here they are:
1: The world is shifting south & east
The shift is taking place in Europe as well as globally. The key axis in Europe is now Germany, Poland & Russia.
2: There is still huge over-capacity across most sectors
From the car industry to PR to advertising to consumer electronics there is too much capacity available which means the talent war is going to get even hotter.
3: The web will continue to rise
The web will continue to disintermediate traditional business models with companies able to go direct to consumers rather than via wholesalers or distributors.
4: Retail power will continue to grow
But that does not necessarily mean Tesco, Carrefour or WalMart. The big threat perceived in the United States is Amazon which threatens even more rapid disintermediation. Online distribution is changing the relationship between manufacturers and retailers.
5: Internal Communications are even more important
“Get your people onside, explaining clearly strategic and cultural change”.
6: Think global and local
Regional is out. Companies need to be either hyper-sensitive to local market conditions or global. Somewhere between the two doesn’t work.
7: CFO and procurement power is increasing
“We are increasingly negotiating with finance people in the room”. The traditional marketing officer is losing power.
8: Continued growth of government
Big government is here to stay for the foreseeable future. Government will be an investor, intervener and regulator and it will spend a lot of money as it seeks to get its message across.
9: Acceptance of sustainability
And that does not mean just being green, it means CSR as well. “Doing good is good business” is now widely accepted.
10: Further consolidation
There will be further consolidation across all sectors. Companies will build market share via acquisition or choose to huddle together to protect themselves against the chill wind.