Emerging markets. It used to feel like a hollow term, often abused by ambitious, large companies looking for easy new markets to expand into. China used to be one of those opportunities. A billion people, and we can reach them now? What if we could convert just 1% of those people? The opportunity is huge! But then in reality, it isn’t. The emerging market is different and unpredictable. You are not equipped to deal with the difference in cultures, of which there are many.
Of course, things are different now. The Internet puts the whole world within reach of everyone. Except, again, it isn’t really different. Local markets have local initiatives. It seems as hard as ever to penetrate a new market with your foreign service. The opportunities still seem tempting but the ‘emerging’ part happens without your help or participation, thank you very much.
One thing is different. Where emerging markets used to sound almost cute, like ‘maturing teenagers’, now they seem to be on track to surpass the previous superpowers. The World Wide Web felt like the American Wide Web for a while — or perhaps the Western Wide Web. But those days are now well behind us. The Web is now truly worldwide. In Africa most countries are skipping wired networks and going straight to wireless. Meanwhile, many seemingly advanced Western countries are still relying on slow and unreliable copper networks.
One man’s technological hurdle is another man’s competitive edge. We can find risk, insight, innovation, inspiration and opportunity in the fact that there are emerging countries. This issue of TNW Magazine will shed some light on some of these. It is up to you to determine what will apply to you, your company, your country and ultimately your future.