BHQ Forward Thoughts B Y R I C H COOPER Just a century ago, it was not unusual for people to live out their entire lives within just a 30-mile radius of where they were born. The automobile and airplane were in their infancy, and pretty much everything people might need to sustain life and commerce was in their immediate vicinity. It could be argued that life was indeed simpler then, but that world and existence is now something relegated to the history books. A century later, it’s not unusual for people to travel 30 miles to work or shop, or travel another 300 miles for a vacation. The miles we travel and borders we cross have become practically transparent. For as much as technology has exponentially sped up our lives, it is commerce that has been the fuel that made the engines roar. The truth is, when people have the right incentives, they get creative and change starts to happen. All you have to do is look at your phone to see that reality. What was once a corded object fastened to the kitchen wall – something family passed to one another to say hello to relatives on holidays – is now the mobile tool that records your child’s soccer game, monitors your retirement portfolio, and helps order the pizza. Phone calls are almost an afterthought. Alexander Graham Bell could have never imagined these possibilities when he yelled the first telephonic words, “Mr. Watson—Come here—I want to see you.” What we see today is a smaller, interconnected world that is becoming wider in opportunity. For as much as people remark about the world being a small place, we are now fully capable of bringing the world to us in the palm of our hands. The revolutions in commerce and technology that have driven globalization for the past decade have made it possible for the world to seem to orbit around us.
B U S I N E S S H O R I Z O N Q U A R T E R L Y // S P R I N G
Columbus and other legendary explorers could have never envisioned the world we live in. To them, the goal was to go out “there” and find riches for God and country, achieving the Star Trek mantra to “boldly go where no one has gone before.” Now we regularly go, connect, share, and do other things regardless of time zones, borders, or other boundaries. Our capacity to generate and manipulate information— the most valuable of today’s commodities—knows no bounds. That is what will be driving the new globalization forward. History is often viewed as a story of the haves and have-nots. In time, we may look back on today through the divisions between the connected and unconnected. Amidst all of this change, the challenge is to retain the ties that bind our fundamental human relationships. While Skype, e-mail, and social media posts can give us the instantaneous connections we long for, they will never replace the rewards of a face-to-face conversation or that ultimate metric of a concluded deal—the handshake. We remain one of the most social of species on the planet and that will never change. The world may be getting smaller, but it’s growing in opportunity. We’re living that dynamic today. Products and partnerships are no longer one-dimensional items. They all depend on factors outside their immediate surroundings. Those factors will always be driven by the imperfect, imaginative, and always unpredictable people behind them. Opportunity abounds in this brave new world we’ve designed. Life may seem more far-flung and complicated, but the prospects to connect and explore have never been greater. In reality, the world has been knitted into our lives, and there’s something very exciting about that for our economy and the relationships we hold dear. Rich Cooper, Editor