A few weeks back I spent a fascinating week at the 50th International Paris Air Show with an international delegation of Deloitte member firm partners. This was my second annual visit to the show, which alternates sites each year between Paris, France, and Farnborough, United Kingdom. The Paris Air Show serves as the primary gathering for senior executives from almost every aerospace and defense (A&D) company from around the world. The high quality interactions held at the show make it a key event for Deloitte’s Global A&D Sector group to attend. The Deloitte team took advantage of the opportunity to have several meetings with various industry executives, attend numerous receptions, participate in media interviews, and also attend many industry seminars.
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Last month, I had the opportunity to spend a week with many Deloitte clients and colleagues in Southeast Asia (SEA). While there were many highlights, one of them certainly was my first visit to Bangkok. We started the week with a series of meetings with manufacturing executives in Bangkok which helped me to gain a better perspective on this important manufacturing economy. A few key facts about the manufacturing industry in Thailand that may interest you:
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In the Rewired Customer trend, we use the metaphor of neuroplasticity (which describes the capacity of the human brain to “rewire” itself in response to injury and dramatically changed circumstances) to describe how customers are “rewiring” their interactions with brands. This is impacting the daily interactions I am having with my Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) clients. Instead of asking how to better leverage traditional media, they now are asking how do they deal with expectations of transacting “anywhere-anytime,” a “do-it-yourself” mindset, and a dependence on the experience-based “wisdom of my tribe” as an integral part of the purchase process. Deloitte Consulting is helping CMOs manage “rewired customers” by changing the way they communicate with them, causing a large divide between old marketing models and new ones.
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In my conversations with leaders in the private and public sectors, there’s a clear desire for businesses to play a significant role in helping address complex global challenges. Outcomes like economic stability, public health and well-being, high-quality education, and protection of human rights are too far-reaching for any one organization, or even a whole sector, to bring about independently. So collaboration among institutions and groups to address these issues is essential.
Over the next few days, I’ll have the privilege of attending the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF). Each year the forum draws a distinguished group of business executives, government officials, media leaders, and other influential figures.
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I recently had the opportunity to attend a conference of a major ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) vendor to learn about technology advances on the horizon and meet with top executives from across the globe, both those just exploring the capabilities of ERP systems, and those with multiple implementations under their belts. While I’m always interested in new technical capabilities, what really captured my attention was hearing how technology leaders are taking advantage of the reinvented ERP engine.
Let’s face it. Those three letters – ERP – can be very scary to the uninitiated and downright frightening to anyone who’s been through a failed implementation. Historically, ERP implementations have been expensive and time consuming, and are seen as rather pedestrian when compared to newer technologies like social, mobile, and cloud.
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I returned from another interesting week in Brazil and with each visit I find that I get a better glimpse of the dynamic changes happening in this market. This was my second visit in the past six months, and given the deep and ongoing interest by manufacturing companies, it certainly seems to be a place that deserves increasing attention.
During this most recent trip, I had the opportunity to meet with several senior executives at top Brazilian and multinational companies. It was fascinating to receive firsthand accounts from these manufacturing leaders on both the strengths and challenges of the current business environment in Brazil and their outlook on prospects for the future. Not surprisingly, despite the diverse manufacturing sectors these leaders represented, their insights had very common themes.
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Recently I had a chance to spend two days with a group of CEOs leading manufacturing companies around the United States (U.S.). I find that participation in these types of meetings provide a great venue to discuss top industry issues. In addition to world-class speakers at the meeting, one of the things I find particularly refreshing is the chance to interact with the leaders from large companies as well as small and medium size manufacturers to get a pulse of what is happening in manufacturing.
A high-point of the session was a CEO panel which featured a vibrant discussion on the key issues facing manufacturing today. These leaders have a relative consensus that business domestically is continuing to grow, although this growth is somewhat muted by the many headwinds that exist in the current manufacturing environment. Unanimously this group of CEOs indicated that they are spending more time than ever before in Washington, D.C. as they find it is critically important for them to ensure that legislators are well aware of the issues that are important to them as the primary providers of employment.
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In late January, I traveled back to China for a series of client meetings. My visit was coordinated to join a group of Deloitte partners from our member firms in the U.S., Germany, and Japan as part of a week-long program to take a closer look into the local automotive industry. Each time that I return to the country, I learn something new about this dynamic and changing market.
At the close of the Year of the Dragon – viewed by many Chinese as extremely prosperous – indices appear to signal a mild recovery for China’s manufacturing industry. For example, the HSBC China Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index, a gauge of nationwide manufacturing activity, rose to 52.3 in January 2013, up from 51.5 in December 2012. Indeed, the Deloitte China partners and various clients that I met with seemed cautiously hopeful that this pick-up in activity will continue into the New Year and that the Year of the Snake will bring improved domestic conditions in China.
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On February 13, Professor Donna Street, Mahrt Chair in Accounting at the University of Dayton and IAAER Director of Research and Education Activities, and I launched the new Deloitte IAAER Scholarship program. By connecting young professors to the global accounting profession and academic world, the program should bring a broader perspective to local accounting education. It provides the link between “local” and “global” accounting developments, reflecting the global progression of the profession and business in general--a path that will continue into the future.
The Deloitte IAAER scholarship program will benefit future accounting professionals who go on to become auditors, preparers of financial statements, budget holders, or financial controllers, just to name a few. In the long term it will help raise the quality of accounting, auditing and financial reporting in markets around the world.
I want to share with you an interview with Donna as she shares her thoughts on the program, as well as the views of the five young associate professors who are the inaugural Deloitte IAAER scholars.
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It is one of the enduring paradoxes of working life: Advancing women in business life seems common-sense but in practice appears to flounder and not make the headway we all expect. The reasons for this were a topic of discussion at the recent OECD Gender Forum – Closing the Gender Gap: Act Now, where I joined a distinguished group of participants, including government and business leaders. It was clear from our discussion that challenges remain.
Take diversity for example. Deloitte Australia has recently carried out ground-breaking research (“Waiter, is that inclusion in my soup?”) in the manufacturing, retail, and healthcare sectors. When modelling the relationship among diversity, inclusion and business performance, the research found that when both diversity and inclusion were high, there was an uplift of some 80 percent in perceptions of business performance. Buoyed by these results, the research was widened to include customer service, innovation and engagement. And the same thing happened: Perceptions of business outcomes are always significantly higher with high diversity and high inclusion. Another finding was that where employees perceive their organization is committed to and supportive of diversity, and where employees feel included, they are 80 percent more likely to believe they work in a high-performing organisation.
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