April 2012 Archives
The news that South Korean company Samsung is believed to have surpassed both Nokia and Apple become the largest mobile phone manufacturer demonstrates the importance of being able to offer technology that is, as well as being innovative, is perceived to be value for money.
For example, Samsung's galaxy handset is acknowledged to offer better technology than Apple's iPhone but at a lower price.
As Francis Jeronimo from analyst IDC comments, why would you buy the iPhone, which has a five megapixel camera, if you can purchase a Samsung that has an eight megapixel camera and a better (brighter) display for less money?
Notably, Samsung's rise has been achieved from roots that gave no indication of the current pre-eminence it enjoys in electronics. Indeed, Samsung is a company that has learnt to adapt, diversify and innovate in a way that demonstrates the importance of being both agile and creative in terms of both strategy and technological development.
The history of Samsung is instructive for any organisation that wishes to innovate its way out of the current economic crisis.
Benjamin Disraeli is reported to have coined the phrase 'lies, damned lies and statistics'. Last week's GDP figures certainly attracted plenty of attention and, criticism in some quarters for confirming the UK is supposedly back in recession, when a raft of business surveys, including EEF's have painted a rather more positive picture.
When the first quarter GDP numbers came in even I was surprised, even though I've been warning that we're on the edge of a double dip recession for months. I had expected poor manufacturing figures and awful construction figures for the early part of this year to be offset by stronger service sector growth, and that overall the UK would have done just enough to avoid slipping back into official recession. That didn't happen.
Of course, the first quarter GDP growth figures carry a big health warning as they cover only 40% of the data and are a first estimate. They may be revised back upwards, as indeed they were in late 2009, but for now at least, it's official; we're back into double dip for the first time since the 1970s.
I write this blog shortly after a leisurely stroll through downtown New Orleans, on my way back from a meeting with a US oil and gas lawyer (and there are plenty round here, believe me, and many of them are still enjoying the BP litigation bonanza).
Unemployment declined by 35,000 in the three months to February to 2.65 million, the first fall since May 2011. While that's of course good news, the number of people claiming unemployment benefit is still rising, with the total number of people in receipt of jobseeker's allowance standing at 1.61 million in March.
Nevertheless, some analysts see the recent slight fall in unemployment as the first sign that the economy has returned to modest growth. Let's hope they are right.
Youth unemployment also declined slightly, by 9,000 in the three months to February, leaving 1.03 million 16 to 24 year-olds looking for work. The unemployment rate for this age group is still over one-in-five, the worst in 25 years, and what's especially concerning is that there was another increase in the number of young people who are long-term unemployed.
In fact, over the last year, the number of young people claiming jobseeker's allowance for 12 months or more has tripled.
Last Sunday I chaired a debate at the Town Hall in Birmingham on what an elected mayor might do for the city, which can be seen here.
Over a hundred people attended and the discussion ranged from what business wanted from a mayor, through jobs, transport and education, and to how a mayor could help the inner city and other deprived areas in sharing in the wealth that the city generates.
Much of the discussion through the two panels was about power: what extra powers would a mayor have as compared with the current set up?
Nothing certain, they say - except death and taxes. If the future were more clear we would plan and prepare better wouldn't we ? Well here's a racing certainty UK plc should be considering.
Having spent most of my working life building websites, I was alarmed to hear rumours of the web's demise. Many are postulating that thanks to the rise of the App, the World Wide Web is reaching the end of its useful life.
Today's profit announcement by Tesco provides some food for thought; no pun intended!
Any business that can achieve a 5.3% increase on it overall group pre-tax profits (to £3.8 billion in the year to February), cannot be doing too much wrong.
However, it is in UK sales that there is disappointment. These were £2.5 billion which is a 1% fall when compared with a year earlier.
As a result Tesco's chief executive Philip Clarke announced an intention by the company to spend £1 billion on store improvement and hiring more staff.
So what has gone wrong for a retailer that, in the UK, has become a behemoth? Interestingly the answer is something of a paradox. Tesco has been able to do what other retailers find difficult; being successful overseas. However, achieving the overseas success has resulted in senior management losing focus on the UK operation.
Did the Budget set out a vision for the UK Economy ? The short answer is no. We needed a Budget last month that focused on setting out the ambitions for growth. Where does the Chancellor see the British economy heading by 2015 or beyond?