Don’t Call It a Comeback

by Aaron Lazenby, February 2011

Profit proofreaders are tired of the “global economic crisis.” And rightly so—the beleaguered term has become a catchall for shocking volatility and economic woes as varied as high unemployment, shaky consumer demand, budgetary austerity, and a shifting regulatory terrain. “Global economic crisis” is a cliché that translates roughly as “all that bad stuff out there.”

This generalization not only diminishes the negative impact of the economic difficulties; it ignores the fact that despite significant disruptions, most businesses continued to operate during the downturn. Managers have new pressures to contend with, but they still have units to build, orders to fill, and customers to keep happy. Enterprise technology is helping executives keep close track of operations and mitigate against the persistent forces of uncertainty. The February issue of Profit is dedicated to such stories. Consider the following:

Overseas Orient Container Line Limited (OOCL) continued to invest in IT, even as consumer demand sank dramatically, curtailing international shipments of goods in 2009. Now that activity has returned, OOCL has reversed 2009’s operating loss—and interim results look good for 2010.

Wet Seal executives took control of local inventory and promotions to quickly implement the right strategies for keeping products moving through their stores. Now the CIO is tapping social media and mobile technology to provide the information and buying opportunities his customers demand.

Garmin’s leadership was able to survey the market and pinpoint an opportunity to expand into a new consumer segment. Demand forecasting is helping management at the GPS device maker predict the right quantities to manufacture and effectively serve new customers overseas.

The CIO of Lojas Renner, which operates in the uniquely booming economy of Brazil, reformulated the company’s IT strategy to support new stores in untapped markets around the country.

After a private equity takeover of La Quinta Inn & Suites, the new CIO outsourced the company’s enterprise applications—and focused on customer-facing IT service that contributes to the bottom line.

Originally, this issue was going to showcase the “global economic recovery.” But the bad stuff out there is still unfolding. So the “recovery” also feels like a cliché—imagining the return of activity that, for most companies, never stopped. So don’t call it a comeback—they’ve been here for years. And always listen to your proofreaders.

All the best in 2011,

Aaron Lazenby
Editor in chief, Profit