Business Communication in Millennium III

By Coates, Joseph F. | Communication World, May-June 1990 | Go to article overview

Business Communication in Millennium III


Coates, Joseph F., Communication World


Every national economy is becoming a more intimate part of an integrated global economy. The consequence for American businesspeople is that the traditional isolation, parochialism, and chauvinism, which have characterized post-war business America, are not merely inappropriate, they are suicidal. No American business-even one dedicated to serving domestic markets exclusively-is free from the challenges of globalization. American business is now being attacked, confronted, and competed with and for, in international and domestic markets, as each foreign competitor expands to the global arena. The United States is the world's largest market for almost everything, hence it is the one sought by all foreign competitors. By no means is that competition limited to the two emerging superpowers-Germany, the most successful nation in the world; and Japan, the most widely publicized of our competitors. Each of the European countries, the Pacific Rim, and, to a surprising extent, Third World countries, are emerging as highly effective business competitors.

The primary challenge to American business is for better design, higher quality, more sure and speedy service, durable performance, and general reliability in schedules, claims, and effectiveness. Americans see that challenge most clearly and frequently as consumers. But that same competition is affecting purchases and procurements by business itself. For example, the precipitous decline of the American machine tool industry is almost totally attributable to Japanese competitors who bested American firms at every turn, not in the performance of their equipment, but in the speed and reliability of scheduling, delivery and in the full and immediate support services which they routinely offered. Information Technology Information technology is the second universal driver shaping the future. As America becomes laced together with fiber optics, microwave, cable, and communication satellites, the bottom will drop out of the cost of communication.

There will be an expansion, not merely in traditional telephone and current cable, but fiber optics will make low-cost audio, video, and data communication a universal expectation. Since 1962, capital investment in white-collar workers has quadrupled, and the largest portion of that investment is in

Information technology.

Today, more (and tomorrow all) white-collar workers will have a screen at their desk, and the more advanced companies will be providing portables to take home and to use on the road. just picture the fact that with two minor alterations the American automobile or van is capable of performing most of the jobs done in the office. Those alterations being just two more cigarette lighter receptacles to plug in the word processor, the fax machine, and whatever else will come along in the next decade. Information technology, by the end of the century, will put every worker in the global corporation in easy communication with any other worker in that global corporation as well as with any customer, constituent, client, vendor or regulator.

Diversity of the Work Force

The massive unfolding of the diversity of the work force is a third factor shaping our society. Of the 25 percent new recruits into the work force in the next decade, 80 percent to 85 percent will be women, minorities, or foreign-born. That heavy injection of new workers is so overwhelming that any hope of managing the work force by pushing, forcing or cajoling these people into a model of the native-born Caucasian male is an operation worthy only of a King Canute.

Unprecedented flexibility will characterize the management of the work place. Achieving that flexibility in schedules, location, rewards and training will be a monumental stress on management since today's ideal work force is made up of competent, skilled, smiling robots who do what they are told, do it well, and demonstrate a one percent quarterly improvement of performance. …

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