As we all start to absorb the result of the U.S. election last night, it’s a good time to get back to the basics – starting with competitiveness. I also have some remarks on the emotional shock that is – without question – hitting thousands of Nearshore Americas readers, but more on that later.
First, the gasoline that has fueled the globalization of IT and business services over the last twenty-plus years has been the survivalist’s instinct by developed world companies to be competitive, to drive efficiency in supply chains, and scour the world for talented professionals. That elemental pursuit does not disappear simply because Trump now takes over the presidency.
There is a lot of noise right now about ‘anti-trade’ and shutting down NAFTA, and taxing companies that operate in overseas markets. As you hear this noise, remember one fundamental fact: U.S. headquartered companies are not running for election. They are not dependent on winning the adoration of rural Michigan folks or measuring public opinion first before making expansion or acquisition plans. I would not expect veterans of globalization, like GE chairman and CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, to suddenly cower in a corner and decide to somehow ‘pull back’ from a complex global footprint of plants, partners, R and D centers and sales offices. He will defend his turf. He, along with other powerful CEOs and political leaders will protect what has clearly served their businesses and constituents well. (Texas Republicans for instances are not about to roll over and play dead because of Trump’s threats to eliminate NAFTA.)
Contributions that Really Matter
Clearly many companies, thousands in fact, that are tied in some way to global and Nearshore outsourcing are fundamentally dependent on the talented contributions of citizens across Latin America and the Caribbean. And let’s be honest – many of you are tethered directly to some part of this relationship, either as a customer or a provider or something in between. This message is for you: Stay cool and stay true to your principles. If you have seen what we’ve have seen – that this is a marketplace worth protecting – then don’t run and hide. Trust has to be placed where there is common ground and common decency.
Continue to listen to your customers and your investors. Understand how automation will continue to redefine Nearshore and global IT and BPO services, and be practical about how that will give rise to new business models. In short, stay in the game and don’t get intimidated by a loud-talking American who still has to operate within a system of checks and balances.
The next few months are clearly going to be surreal for many Americans who were completely unprepared for a Trump Presidency. More will be revealed once Trump selects his cabinet and advisory team.
Meanwhile, we all have the opportunity to contemplate how we want to react to this development. Will it cause providers to be defensive, to assume the United States is no longer the attractive market it once was? Will enterprise customers start to imagine a less restrictive regulatory environment and exercise new freedoms to, contrary to popular belief, springboard more aggressively into emerging markets?
Knowing what we have learned about government, very few things – big things – can be done all at once. The ‘building the wall’ concept – in my view – is total nonsense and will live on only as a ‘dog whistle’ battle cry and have no real outcome. There are far too many other ‘big items’ that are going to dominate the policy-making dialogue in Washington. For starters, the Republican party is seriously dislocated from the election cycle, and those wounds will take some time to heal.
In this Together
But to be honest, I didn’t set out to write a political commentary. The main purpose of this column is to signal my great respect for the terrific people that dominate our Nearshore industry. From Argentina to Brazil, across the Caribbean and into Mexico, I personally continue to be blown away by the social grace, world-class humility and honorable commitment by so many people to do the right thing – often in difficult or even hostile political environments.
Those of us in the United States are finally dealing with a radical governmental shift that most of our friends in other parts of the region have gone through already many times in their lives. For that, thanks for allowing us into your ‘club’ and we can laugh together at the shattering of the perception that the U.S. is ‘above’ such seismic political disruptions.
I have long argued that the U.S. is an adolescent nation. We have a lot to still learn, and this episode in our history is – as filmmaker Michael Moore so rightly put – an attempt by the electorate to throw a Molotov cocktail inside the Washington Beltway just to see what would happen. Teenagers like to throw explosives, and often have no idea how their actions bring negative results right back at them.
The result of this election also means that folks outside of the U.S. have to resist attempts to presume where our nation is headed next. No-one really knows, but keep your eyes open because we’re going to need your patience and your faith to get through. It’s important to stay in the game, to be ready and to not allow emotion to override the core reality that businesses still want to be competitive and will still need smart, capable partners.
In the next few months especially, let’s not abandon the very principles that have made this Nearshore marketplace so successful. Our prosperity is built on mutual respect and trust – across borders and across cultures.
We have come too far to turn back now.