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Make plans globally, not nationally.

Telecomm managers need to be increasingly aware of trends and events throughout the world, not just in the United States.

A common lament is, "My senior management doesn't consult me on company expansion plans, on future developments."

Have you prepared yourself to be consulted?

If you doubt where the world is going, you need look no further than airport development, a leading barometer. In this country we continue to argue endlessly about airport expansion and throw environmental roadblocks into every plan. The recent U.S. record on airport development is dismal, while congestion reaches intolerable levels in many locations.

Overseas it's different.

In Pacific Rim countries where commercial activity is probably expanding faster than any other area, an industry publication, the "Momberger Airport Information" newsletter, published in Germany, recently reported in a single week's issue, Hong Kong had signed contracts for a new HKD 98.6 billion (about 13 billion in US dollars) Chek Lap Kok Airport. Major additions are underway to airports in China at Beijing, Shanghai and Guangshou. The newsletter continued, "China's air traffic is expected to increase at an annual rate of 12% in the next five years, about twice as fast as the annual growth rate of the country's GNP."

Even in Malaysia, at Kuala Lumpur, in India, at Bombay and Delhi, in Singapore, and even in Mongolia, substantial airport expansion in underway according to that same issue of the "Momberger Airport Information" newsletter.

A companion publication, "Airport Forum" magazine, in their Feb. 1992 issue, had a lengthy article on the new airport in Munich, Germany titled, "Operating an Intelligent Airport." It showed a picture of a new gantry-type de-icing system suitable for aircraft up to 747-400s.

In this country we continue to worry about dislocating some unknown animal species while aircraft take off with less than maximum de-icing protection.

Even the outlook for aircraft heavy maintenance bases is moving to the Asia-Pacific region. "Momberger Airport Information" reports several U.S. carriers are establishing joint ventures to transfer their maintenance and overhaul to Asia. Meanwhile, in this country, states fight with each other to finance maintenance and overhaul bases with public funding and dubious futures.

And, finally, in land-locked Minnesota, of all places, one of the fastest growing companies is Prisma International, a language translator. According to an article in the April 21, 1992 edition of the "Minneapolis Skyway News," this company "has carved a niche for itself in a handful of industries, particularly telecommunications."

Prisma International's president, Jim Romano, was quoted in this article, "The translation business is really heating. People are becoming aware of the need to translate documents. Because the growth markets are outside the U.S., American companies are becoming savvy. For example, with the movement toward the free-trade agreement, now there's greater interest in Mexico. Although the stereotype is that Mexico is a poor country, it is becoming clear that what once was a problem is now an opportunity."

Later, in the same article, Romano adds, "It (translation) makes the difference between getting a multimillion-dollar contract or zilch. And for what it costs to translate an RFP or the instruction manual, you can open up a whole new market."

I realize you may consider some of these developments outside the scope of your concern and there are certainly many other international issues, on which you should maintain competence, that will drive global economies. The point is to pay at least minimal attention to all aspects of worldwide development. Our economy, and most Fortune 1000 companies, are becoming increasingly dependent on a global economy, not solely a U.S. economy.

And the issues are far greater than all the recent talk about "whole-earth phone service." That's an important, significant development, but with less than ten phones per 1,000 people in many Pacific Rim countries, whole-earth phone service will have to wait a while before it affords maximum opportunity for business development. Business opportunities and profits in basic shelter and commerce will take precedence.

The "Skyway News" article above says it best with this opening paragraph: "If you believe the story of the Tower of Babel, you have a good idea of how the translation business got its start. As the Scriptures tell it, 'The whole earth used the same language and the same words.' Perhaps bored by all this sameness, the Babylonians decided to build a tower that would reach heaven. Displeased by this ancient Sears Tower, God took to confusing the languages of the people and scattering them around the planet. It was the end of the tower, but for translators such as Romano, it was the beginning of a rewarding line of work. Thank God."

Augie Blegen is a telecomm consultant and executive director of the Association of Data Communications Users Inc., P.O. Box 385728, Bloomington, MN 55438, (612) 881-6803.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Datacomm User; communications management
Author:Blegen, August
Publication:Communications News
Article Type:Column
Date:Jul 1, 1992
Words:802
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