Asia's relationship business model must go: PWC

The relationship-oriented business culture in Asia is posing a challenge to the new model of electronic marketplaces.

          The relationship-oriented business culture in Asia is posing a challenge to the new model of electronic marketplaces.

          However, forces of the electronic markets will eventually triumph over the way businesses are done in Asia, says Grady Means, global leader for Strategic Consulting, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PWC). This means the heavy focus on relationships will have to go.

          Means was sharing his thoughts, found within his recently completed book MetaCapitalism, during a briefing in Singapore last week. Co-authored with his colleague, David Schneider, America's theatre leader for strategic consulting at PWC, the book encapsulates the "design of 21st century companies and markets," he says.

          "It isn't a question of if your company will transform to an e-business model," say the two global strategists in the book, "it's a question of when."

          "The next 18 months will represent the single most profound period of economic and business change that the world has ever seen," says Means. Peering into the crystal ball, he predicts the world should see the formation of mature e-market models at the end of this period.

          More than just operational savings achieved through supply chain efficiencies, Means' vision of "metamarkets" -- an economy connected by huge, e-marketplaces and "value-added communities" -- will also lead to:

          • better leverage of capital
          • improvement in the efficiency of capital markets,
          • global expansion of market access, and
          • dramatic unleashing of human potential and capital.
          "Asia has a very strong merchant culture and very pragmatic economic models," says Means. While it is true that the emphasis on relations will be a constraint to the e-market models, he believed that Asian businesses will realise the benefits quickly and simply take on the "leaner, faster, more innovative, and transparent characteristics" of the metamarkets.

          "If I may use the metaphor loosely, the Japanese economy in 1990s is a good example of what will happen if Asia does not change," cautions Means. "As global capital markets were liberalised and integrated, and as network technology began to have a major impact on business performance, the rigidities in Asian economic models and certain European models created a reversal of fortune."

          "Those who fail to adapt and reap the benefits of the e-markets will not survive," comments Grace Chopard, Asia-Pacific leader of strategic change consulting at PWC, during the briefing. She adds there would definitely be "fierce competition" during the transition of business models from the traditional to the MetaCapital world.

          "Speed is the very essence of the new economy," she concludes.

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