Tuesday, April 15, 2008

East Smiling, West Frowning!

I read an interesting article in the editorial page of TOI yesterday about how the "Western mind is confused at Asia’s rise". I don't want to sound xenophobic or racist but it's a fact that for very long US and Europe have maintained an economic domination that has been consciously monopolistic. Whether it is domination through trade or through the UN, the West has prospered without empowering the Eastern and African nations. This article struck me because very recently we experienced this while attending an international professional conference.

The face of the world is changing and it is changing fast. One of the facts of this changing world is the emergence of Asia as the new superpower. And as expected, the Western countries are having a tough time coming to terms with this fact.

They would still like to believe Asia as a low cost, low skills, dumping ground where they can get their "manual and not-so intellectual" work done. However, the reality is giving them sleepless nights. Not only is the economy of the East growing fast, the markets are moving here. The brains that left for the West are either coming back or staying rooted to their roots. The biggest sets of consumers are emerging in these geographies. So, if they have to market their stuff, it's no longer enough to have a “Made in US” stamp on it. They have to ensure that the products are designed specifically for the Asian markets. Therefore, effectively, companies are allocating huge R&D budgets to woo the Eastern consumers. This sets off a competition among the Western companies to know the Asian markets well enough to market their products.

The smart companies in the West see virtue in joining hands with the Asian companies. They believe in pooling resources, expertise, familiarity, and capitalizing on the boom. They are willing to shed their inhibitions, whether it is their stiff upper-lip or their cynical nature, and even go to the extent of learning Mandarin, Hindi, or Korean. Asian companies too have to stop being amazed at anything "foreign" and start appreciating their own skills and expertise. Individually, Asians need to be more confident of their achievements, without constantly seeking approvals and appreciation outside. Collectively, Asians need to work more professionally, respect competition, shed herd mentality, and flex muscles only if backed by the brains. And more importantly, Asians should NOT bend over backwards seeing the green dollar! Remember folks, the big bucks are moving East!