There was an interesting analysis of the trend towards regionalisation published in business magazine Forbes just before the recent holiday season. It explored how the Brexit vote in the UK and the election of Donald Trump as the US president might change business behaviour.
Politics went through something of a shock in 2016 and 2017 may hold further surprises in Europe with elections in the Netherlands, France, Norway, the Czech Republic, and Germany all coming soon…
But what does Forbes mean about a change in business attitudes and how does it affect those in the IT business?
The answer lies in the growing nationalism seen in the USA and many European countries. There is a growing desire to show that jobs are being created and managed close to home, or at least closer to home than before.
In European technology circles this is likely to manifest itself with less trust in technology suppliers from Asia – particularly China and India. Many of these companies are highly professional leaders in their industry, but as consumers start becoming more wary of strategies such as outsourcing and offshoring, it is likely that managers buying IT services will look closer to home. As Forbes suggests, the trend will be towards European regionalisation, not globalisation.
It is unlikely that markets such as the UK or Germany will create enough new technology professionals to ensure all work can be performed locally – and the cost would be prohibitive for most organisations anyway – but these consumer attitudes will favour technology companies in Eastern Europe.
The Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) region has long marketed itself as a European alternative to China and India. Allowing European companies to work with partners that are close enough for a day trip to be possible. Now they will have an additional advantage, the growing political and social unrest about long distance offshoring.
It’s good news for European technology companies as Europe remains close – organisations in Europe buy 69% of their goods from other European companies. The USA may be a more complex scenario as President-elect Trump has already talked about scaling back drastically on the H1B visa that most foreign IT professionals use when working in the US.
Whatever happens with the politicians, the direction of travel is clearly towards nearshoring as a preferable solution. The era of the world being completely flat appears to be over. Welcome to an era of regionalisation.