It's a small world

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The Independent Online
THE LEAD taken by companies such as Virgin and J Sainsbury in stretching their brands across a range of business sectors will be widely followed as leaps in information technology enable small organisations to outperform larger competitors, according to a new report, writes Roger Trapp.

"Small is Beautiful", produced by the communications technology company Mitel Telecom, suggests developments are coming so fast that business will see even more profound changes over the next 10 years than it has already witnessed.

In sectors such as financial services and retailing, new companies will use their ability to access and manage information via the internet, increasingly complex phone systems and electronic mail to challenge market leaders. At the same time, diversification of strong brand names will continue at a rapid pace.

Dino Joannides, sales and marketing director of Mitel, said: "Smaller companies, which can react swiftly, will benefit from the same ability to compete, communicate and co-operate across borders and time zones as their larger competitors, many of which will be weighed down by sluggish internal procedures and communications.

"Big companies that do not adapt to the increased speed and democracy of the new information age will find it impossible to compete."

The report also predicts that - just as all these technological developments will enable even the smallest company to become global - governments will start to fight back against the relentless march of business.

For the moment, entertainment and consumer products, predominantly from the United States, are threatening to dilute local cultures through their promotion of a single global culture. But where individual cultures and languages are threatened, there is likely to be a backlash in the form of restrictions imposed by governments keen to prevent national identities being swept "under a carpet of Coca-Cola and Disney".