Introducing the 2014 Access 25
2014 ACCESS 25
Made in America: Allen Edmonds
Five years after the Great Recession began, Allen Edmonds is a “shoe-in” to hit sales records for a third year in a row by bringing Made in America to the world.
If you want to understand where Allen Edmonds has been — and where it’s going — there’s arguably no better person in the world to talk to than Jean Roehr.
Roehr, who has been with the company since 1971, isn’t the CEO. In fact, she doesn’t even work in the same building as the executives. Roehr is the lead international shipping clerk at the Allen Edmonds Bywater distribution center in Port Washington, Wis. From her workstation just a few steps from the company’s four main loading docks, she’s at the vortex of the U.S.-owned shoe manufacturer’s aggressive expansion into international markets. GO TO FULL STORY/VIDEO »
Global trade is increasingly defined by trade in services, less so by hard goods. So should our trade policy, experts argue.
“Dematerialized globalism” refers to a world economy dominated more by wonkery than widgets. So say Arvind Subramanian and Martin Kessler of the Peterson Institute for International Economics in a 2013 paper “The Hyperglobalization of Trade and Its Future.” Unfortunately, these experts say, our trade policy hasn’t kept pace. While nations have negotiated lower barriers to trade in goods, agreements for lowered barriers to trade in services have trailed behind. The Trade In Services Agreement (TISA), which includes the EU and 21 other countries, holds some hope.
Internet for Everyone
Facebook is leading a group of Silicon Valley companies on a mission to bring the web to the world’s most remote corners.
Today only one-third of us have internet access — and all of the opportunities for economic advancement it affords. More troubling, access is growing at just 9 percent a year. Google and Facebook are among the tech giants aiming to change that. Internet.org is a Facebook-led partnership including Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm and Samsung that plans to launch new initiatives to bring internet access to the developing world. Goals include simplifying mobile phone applications, improving networks and infrastructure, and extending battery life so mobile devices are more practical in developing regions. Google’s Free Zone, meanwhile, offers wireless users in some developing countries free access to Gmail, while Google’s Project Loon purports to be planning to beam internet access down to Earth from dirigibles more than 11 miles high in the atmosphere.
The Sharing Economy
A new breed of company promises us efficiencies in connecting demand to “slack resources.”
That car sitting in your garage. Your passion, which you’ve been dying to teach. They’re both examples of what an economist would call “slack resources” — things waiting to be used and monetized in a capitalistic economy. A host of start-ups have launched with the goal of helping you do just that: teach your passion (Skillshare), contract your labor (TaskRabbit), create your own car service (Lyft, Sidecar). Mobile technology and the stagnant economy are huge drivers of this trend, but so too is culture. Studies show millennials, for example, are far less interested in car ownership than previous generations.
People increasingly want to live in them. They’re responsible for most of the world’s GDP. What does that mean for policy?
By 2030, 5 billion people will live in cities — compared to 3.6 billion today — making the global economy even more urbanized. Much of this growth will happen in developing nations, meaning from a policy perspective, issues such as energy, education, sustainability and infrastructure will become even more important. What makes a city great? Culture? Business connections? McKinsey recently crunched the data, and you can read their 44-page report.
Same-day, same-city shipping not only helps AIDS Healthcare Foundation save time and money — it helps them save lives.
In the past several years, retailers — and especially e-tailers — have discovered how same-day delivery provides new levels of value to their customers. Order a toaster oven online in the morning, and you can be making a grilled cheese sandwich for dinner. Los Angeles–based AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is using this same concept to deliver medication to people whose lives depend on it. Founded in 1987 as a 25-bed, end-of-life hospice center, AHF is a non-profit that today serves more than 200,000 clients in 28 countries, providing counseling, advocacy and medical care. Thanks to the 1996 revolution in anti-viral drugs, AHF is able to help many of its clients live full, active lives despite an HIV or AIDS diagnosis. Pharmaceuticals, in other words, are critical. “People can take one pill, once a day, and potentially live a normal life expectancy,” says AHF president Michael Weinstein, one of the original champions of HIV/AIDS advocacy. GO TO FULL STORY/VIDEO »
The Latin American Tiger
Is Chile’s hot economy the true star of South America?
Brazil may have been the darling of the world’s financial media over the past few years, but the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recently named Chile as the most innovative country in South America. Business-friendly policy and aggressive pursuit of FTAs have driven the nation’s employment rate to a seven-year low, and consumer spending is robust. Despite severe economic inequality and productivity issues, Chile remains a star in South America.
Companies now use data and algorithms to “write” news content.
If you think that online story covering your son’s high school football game was posted at lightning speed, you’re not far off. A newspaper can’t afford to send a reporter to every high school sports event or have meteorologists positioned throughout their coverage area, but new technology is allowing media outlets to affordably broaden and quicken the reporting of remote events. Companies like Narrative Science, founded by Northwestern University journalism school graduates, have figured out how to use computer algorithms to write shockingly credible news stories on virtually any topic that comes with a dataset: sports, business, weather, for example.
The Quantifiable You
Fitness trackers are increasing our access to personal data.
There’s Big Data and then there’s little data: the kind of small-scale, personal data we each can use to make better decisions about our daily lives. How to perform better at our jobs or during workouts. How to be more efficient. Tracking everything, including your activity level, sleep quality and calories burned, wearable tech is giving us all expanded access to a better self. Experts say it’s a development that will move quickly from trend to every day — and play an increasing role in healthcare.
The Internet of Things
Wish you could turn up the A/C from your iPad? There’s an app for that.
Before leaving work tonight, will you adjust your home thermostat using your mobile phone? If not, you soon will. The internet is coming to your light bulbs, running shoes and pacemaker. In sectors from transportation to manufacturing to healthcare, physical objects linked through wired and wireless networks via the Internet Protocol will continue to improve productivity. McKinsey principal Markus Löffler recently referred to this as the “fourth industrial revolution,” one in which “smart” products govern themselves, take corrective action and even automatically replenish supplies — technologies that already exist today. As Löffler tells McKinsey: “‘Process and device’ will be inseparable; physical things become part of the process. Machines and work flows merge to become a single entity. The work flow ceases to exist as an independent logistical layer; it is integrated into the hardware.”
Tour Guide: You
Technology chips away at the barrier between curators and curated.
The days of renting clunky headphones for a digital audio tour are numbered.
Google recently released a Google Glass version of its free Field Trip app, which allows anyone to create and post a guided tour — whether it’s of a cultural attraction or a local neighborhood. It’s a pairing that goes nicely with Google Art Project, which already allows you to take virtual tours of more than 17 of the world’s leading museums — from Versailles to MoMa — using Google Street View. You don’t even have to leave your couch. Still crave the real thing? A start-up called Museum Hack is now offering alternative tours of major museums, including the Met, with surprises around every corner.
For four months a year, there’s now an ice-free route from Alaska to Norway.
With the Northeast Passage along Russia’s northern coast now open and largely ice-free four months a year, cargo ship traffic there has increased more than ten-fold since 2010. In late 2013, the Chinese even sent a 19,000-ton vessel through the passage on a freight run. Some experts see China moving significant traffic to the Northeast Passage in the coming years.
Bremont has brought luxury watchmaking back to the UK — and created jobs all over the world while they’re at it.
For Bremont founders Nick and Giles English, it’s a story that starts in the sky. After all, that’s where their father, Dr. Euan English, spent much of his time as they were growing up. Dr. English was a Royal Air Force pilot, aeronautical engineer and owner of a historic aircraft restoration business. He was a born tinkerer — a passion that Nick and Giles quickly grew to share.
“As kids,” Nick notes, “we spent a whole lot of time in the workshop making things.” Over time, Nick and Giles grew to become expert pilots in their own right and partners in the family’s aviation business.
Then, one day in early spring 1995, the course of their lives was irrevocably altered. While Nick and his father were practicing for an air show in their WWII Harvard, the plane ran into engine problems and failed to recover. The result was a horrendous accident: Dr. English died at the scene and Nick suffered life-threatening injuries.
READ FULL STORY »
It means “continuous improvement” in Japanese. It’s at the heart of companies like Toyota whose corporate giving delivers big expertise, not just big checks.
The Food Bank for New York City relies on a number of corporate sponsors for funding, but Toyota might be the most unique. Instead of donating in dollars, it donates kaizen — a Japanese approach to efficiency. Toyota process engineering experts go on-site, helping with everything from reducing wait times for dinner to maximizing warehouse efficiency. “When we give our team members the opportunity to implement Toyota’s know-how and core philosophies at a nonprofit with scarce resources, it’s an extremely valuable — and rewarding — way to hone problem-solving skills. And it helps us develop future leaders at Toyota,” says Jamie Bonini, General Manager of the Toyota Production System Support Center.
Change in the Value of Reliability versus Speed
Why “slow and steady” is the new supply chain standard in many industries.
Container ships are now taking longer to cross the Atlantic and Pacific than the British Cutty Sark did more than 100 years ago. This time, however, the slow speeds are being driven by choice, not wind and sail cloth. A combination of rising fuel costs, more sophisticated just-in-time supply chain management, and improved shipment-monitoring technology has inspired many shipping providers to adopt “slow steaming” to optimize fuel economy while providing customers greater economy and delivery precision. The standard speed of an international container ship has dropped from 24 knots to 20 knots — with many companies even shipping at 12 knots (14 mph).
Japan and FTAs
Japan joined the TPP trade talks last summer, and is also in the midst of discussing a separate free trade agreement (FTA) with the EU.
Japan and the EU have been two of the more beleaguered economies of the past decades, but a new FTA in negotiation could change that. Talks between the two economic powers heated up in 2013, and should conclude by 2018, according to analysts. Japan is also at the center of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, which continues as separate trade talks. Japan announced it was joining the TPP talks in March 2013, putting pressure on other APAC countries not to be left out. Peter A. Petri, a visiting fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, estimates the TPP would allow Japan to jump-start its stagnant manufacturing sector and increase exports by 14 percent. It would also bring billions in growth to other TPP countries (including the U.S.) that do not have FTAs with Japan.
Many people living in low-income housing spend up to five times more on transportation than they do on housing. Here’s how one organization is trying to change that.
It’s an alarming trend shared by millions worldwide as chaotic growth overwhelms inadequate infrastructure and city planning. At least 615 million more city dwellers are expected in India and China alone by 2030. Spiraling congestion, air pollution, traffic injuries and death put transportation at the center of this problem. But when implemented sustainably, transportation also holds the promise for improving lives. That’s the mission of EMBARQ, the World Resources Institute’s Center for Sustainable Transportation. It’s in the midst of a five-year plan to influence more than 200 cities to adopt solutions like bus rapid transit. Their goal: to safely and economically connect people like Madelina to jobs and a better life. EMBARQ’s flagship Metrobus mass transit project in Mexico’s capital facilitates 900,000 trips a day, and last year it reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 120,000 tons. And it’s saving lives. Working with FedEx safety experts, the EMBARQ Safety First project is dramatically reducing the road accident rate through new driver training programs. Go to embarq.org to learn more.
The latest Wi-Fi standard, coming to a laptop or base station near you, is two times faster than the previous.
In 2013 a new Wi-Fi standard, dubbed “ac,” was officially certified and adopted by the manufacturers who plan to use it. By the end of this year, experts predict ac devices will make up the majority of the Wi-Fi market. With the average number of Wi-Fi devices in U.S. homes doubling every five years, home Wi-Fi networks are struggling during peak demand. The new standard largely avoids this problem — and requires less power consumption. Cell phone companies are expected to take advantage of ac technology by increasingly deploying Wi-Fi hotspots to offload traffic from their congested networks.
India On the Move
In 2013, inflation and a credit crunch had construction cranes standing eerily still in Mumbai. Will 2014 mark India’s return?
By August of last year, the Indian economy — a star of the developing world — was in a crisis. The rupee had plunged 25 percent against the dollar. Credit was evaporating. The price of diesel was soaring, nearly crippling a country dependent on it. Remarkably, by November, economic vitals stabilized, and by the New Year foreign investors had returned. Experts are now optimistic that 2014 will mark India’s comeback. “The Indian economy continues to grow at over 5 percent,” says Elizabeth Finch, vice president, Sales, FedEx Express Europe, Middle East, Indian Subcontinent and Africa (EMEA). “While that is a comedown from the 8 to 9 percent growth the country had witnessed in the past decade, the size of the economy and the reality that even in the worst of times, India continues to maintain a higher growth rate than most countries cannot be discounted.”
Freer-Flowing North American Energy
It’s been the secret sauce in the North American economic recovery.
Newly discovered sources of oil and natural gas are bigger boosts to the North American economy than even experts estimated. Residential U.S. natural gas prices fell between 12 percent and 32 percent since 2008 depending on location, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The result: more money in the pockets of American consumers — as much as $1,200 a year, according to a recent IHS study. Natural gas prices in much of Europe are three times that of U.S. levels — with Asian prices even higher. The shifting cost of energy is one reason companies like Motorola have chosen North America as a home for new manufacturing facilities. PriceWaterhouseCoopers estimates the shale gas boom will add an additional 1 million manufacturing jobs to the U.S. economy by 2025. Recently, Mexico, which has tremendous oil and natural gas resources, began to open up its state-owned energy sector to new, private investment. This could tilt the balance of global manufacturing even further.
By 2040, Africa’s working-age population will be larger than either China’s or India’s.
Among the many remarkable takeaways in his book, Success in Africa: CEO Insights from a Continent on the Rise, Jonathan Berman’s observations on the continent’s workforce might be the most thought provoking. “The absolute growth rate in adult workers, combined with the world’s lowest dependency ratio, basically means Africa is going to become the world’s workplace,” he predicts. By 2035, Africa’s working-age population (ages 15 to 64) will surpass China’s; by 2040, India’s, making Africa’s the world’s largest labor force. Meanwhile, owing to high mortality among earlier generations, today’s young Africans will mature into a working class less burdened by elder dependents than most Western and Asian societies. That likely means they’ll have more disposable income. They’ll be more mobile. And they’ll demand vast amounts of education, equipment and other types of enablement over the course of their working lives. “It’s an opportunity provided you offer products and services that help those workers be productive,” Berman says. “Putting productivity-enhancing tools in their hands. As well as providing the power grid and other infrastructure to help them make and move goods out the door. That’s where the big opportunity lies.”
While Japan and Germany still lead the pack in infrastructure readiness, the U.S. is among a long list of countries desperate for investment.
An infrastructure deficit continues to be an albatross around the neck of the global economy. Experts including World Bank chief economist Justin Lin see infrastructure investment as a way to jump-start the world economy during the slow recovery from the Great Recession. In the U.S., Laura D’Andrea Tyson, professor in the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, has argued that investing an additional $150 billion per year in new highways, bridges, railways and airport capacity would create 1.8 million new jobs and add up to $400 billion to U.S. GDP by 2020.
The Maker Movement
Shwood is among the leading lights of this “locavore manufacturing” movement.
Entrepreneurs around the world are combining technology, social media, DIY culture and a passion for well-made goods to create a new generation of specialty brands. They even have their own convention: Maker Faire. A start-up called Shinola (they purchased the existing, classic brand name) has rejuvenated a 30,000-square-foot factory in Detroit, employing more than 100 in the production of bicycles and wristwatches. In Portland, Ore., eyewear maker Shwood has grown from a garage start-up to a business of 45 with more than 40 percent of its business now overseas.
E-commerce will be on the other side of a tipping point in 2014, making it an even bigger player in our increasingly global, borderless economy
HERE'S THE BIG NEWS: North America is now No. 2 in e-commerce, trailing the Asia Pacific region — which, by the way, is growing at more than twice the rate of North America in terms of e-commerce sales, according to eMarketer Worldwide.
There are implications here for everything from supply chain management to local zoning and retail development. For many sectors of the economy, the proliferation of mobile devices among a growing middle class, coupled with show-rooming and cocooning, are making yesterday’s retail strategies obsolete. (Just ask the big-box stores.)
Whether you’re a multinational based in Kyoto or a mom-and-pop based in Kansas, a truly global e-commerce sourcing and distribution strategy is more critical to business survival every day.
Cisco strategy and technology chief believes the more connected we are, the better off we'll be.
Padmasree Warrior, the chief technology and strategy officer for Cisco, has big ideas and a big audience for them, with a global following of nearly 1.5 million Twitter followers. Warrior and her colleagues at Cisco believe that with the “internet of everything,” we can solve the world’s most persistent problems — from hunger to clean water to the fragility of the global financial system. Access: Cisco has argued that only 1 percent of what could be connected in the world actually is connected. What’s the thinking behind that? PADMASREE WARRIOR: You have to look at all the things that can be connected, not just people. Today, if you look at how many subscribers there currently are on mobile and on the internet, that’s roughly half the world’s population. But you also have to look at the number of devices — things like traffic lights and cars and even things we wear — that today are not yet connected. We expect the number of connected things to reach 50 billion by 2020. GO TO FULL STORY »
We don’t live in a shrinking world. We live in a more connected one.
It took Christopher Columbus nearly three months to cross the Atlantic. Today, your supply chain can jump that gap in hours. With a flick of your thumb, you can manage your business from the beach with your phone — just one of more than 6 billion mobile phones and devices that send 50 billion instant messages every day.
Yet, more than ever, it’s the littlest number that matters most: one. That’s the number of global connections it takes to change the world.
A tweet can launch a multi-billion-dollar business. One email can reengineer a market segment. A single package can lift up a community and even save lives.
At FedEx, we have a passion for making the connections that change the world. What will a more connected planet mean for all of us in 2014? We reached out to thought leaders around the world to find out, and the result is this year’s Access 25. We hope our list spurs conversation — and we encourage you to share your thoughts below.