Michael R. Czinkota
When analyzing the midterm Covid-19 effects, many pundits envision a return to the status quo ante once the current societal disruptions have calmed down. We doubt such an outcome due to the magnitude of the societal shifts triggered by Covid-19 along with the emergence of new technologies that take on an increasingly important role for business, government, and the individual. Just like toothpaste once squeezed out of the tube becomes difficult to repackage back into the tube, policy and behavior once explored become very challenging to ignore.
Technology is today’s most critical man-made driver of global shifts, replacing and substituting established processes. It has already renewed content and context for many firms and individuals. For example, new routings between countries and consumers that were traditionally impassable or leading to long time delays have been made accessible, thus creating what some have called a death (or at least diminishment) of distance. . The opening of the Swiss Ceneri base tunnel provides greatly enhanced connectivity between Alpine mountain ranges. The Zhuhai bridge makes a dramatic new connection to Hong Kong, Macau, and Mainland China. Both of these edifices have changed geographic proximity.
Due to technology, information can now be rapidly transferred around the globe. While immigration may be fueling population shifts in wealthy nations, technology is fueling the growth of the business and consumption flows around the world. Historically, worker mobility was a critical human resource variable that involved changing physical presence. Today, worker mobility may mean as little as someone working on a computer at a different location. Increasingly, there is no longer even the need for such activity to take place synchronously.
The power of technology can be momentous and its impact may not always be fully visible from the start of its implementation. Often its relevance bubbles under the surface. A testament to the importance of technology is broadband internet. As an indicator of technological development, the number of fixed broadband subscribers matters since a high number of subscribers per capita usually indicates a high level of technology. Advanced economies tend to have the most broadband subscribers which is most reflective of business capabilities. By contrast, the number of subscribers in many developing economies, such as Burkina Faso and Afghanistan, is currently effectively zero. Thus, technologies tend to be most evolved in advanced economies and least evolved in developing economies. The distinction is important because technology is critical to entrepreneurship, productivity, innovation, national economic vitality, and superior living standards.
Technological developments over the past decade have led to dramatic changes in the way people think about communication and information sharing. Mobile telephone subscriptions worldwide keep rising greatly and contribute the largest share of worldwide sales in the consumer electronics sector. Many mature markets have over 100 percent mobile penetration (meaning that some owners have more than one phone, not that all members of that market’s population own a phone).
Technological advances lead to greater information sharing worldwide and allow for new equipment to be more sophisticated and perform more functions at a lower cost. More intelligent and accurate control equipment can bring energy efficiency and large cost savings. As we look at the world marketplace, our planning should focus more on technology. With more technology, even poor countries can become more efficient and successful. Enhanced with the power of financial remittances and acquisition of innovation from countries around the world, technology should become the watchword for the future.
Professor Michael Czinkota (firstname.lastname@example.org) works on International Business and Trade issues. His key textbook is International Marketing which goes into its 11edition.
Amalia Stahl is a student at Georgetown University majoring in Mathematics and Fine Arts.