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The Business Forum
Check: Your Most Potent Competitive Advantage
By Seena Sharp
The United States is the world’s largest manufacturer. And, by a significant amount.
If you believe that this is a press release from some PR shill with rose-colored
glasses, read on for a reality check.
International data compiled by the United Nations on global output indicates
that manufacturing output from the U.S. is 45% higher than it is for China. Higher than
China? How is that possible?
Part of the reason is that American workers are increasingly productive. Mississippi, South Carolina, and Alabama are actually cheaper for manufacturing
for select industries than in China. In fact, net labor costs in China are
rising (up 17%), and that is resulting in China moving some of their
manufacturing to cheaper sources in Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia.
So before you spend money setting up a factory in China, check out the specifics
for your industry. Invest in due diligence or market intelligence.
Far too many executives know only some information… but, when you’re making
important decisions, “only some” is just not good enough. The less input you have,
the more likely it is misleading, insufficient or even outdated. For example,
while U.S. manufacturing jobs are declining, jobs in technology and
health-related fields are increasing. While manufacturing is moving to low-cost
Asian countries, many of those countries lack the supply chain, infrastructure
or labor skills needed.
If this is surprising, confusing, counter-intuitive because you think it does not
make sense - or if you are convinced we are wrong…. Excellent!
Information that is the most contrary to your beliefs often proves to be the
most valuable. What you do not know about current reality can lead to missed
opportunities and bad decisions.
Seena Sharp is a Fellow of The Business Forum
Institute and a pioneer in competitive
intelligence, founding one of the first companies in the United States,
Sharp Market Intelligence. They provide cutting-edge strategic
intelligence to companies entering a new industry, expanding their line,
targeting new customers or uncovering unknown customers, launching a new
product, purchasing equipment, and finding alternative uses. Their
clients range from Fortune 500 firms to those who are not as familiar –
in the US, Europe, Asia and Africa. She spent her corporate years in
New York City with four major companies, including BBDO Advertising and
Equitable Life Assurance, while earning a masters degree in mathematics
from New York University. She received the Fellows Award from her
professional association. John Wiley & Sons asked her to write the book
on this topic,
Intelligence Advantage: How to Minimize Risk, Avoid Surprises, and Grow
Your Business in a Changing World.
Seena speaks to corporation and business groups globally, and has
written numerous business articles.
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