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    Global economy will turn around very soon: David Frigstad, chairman, Frost & Sullivan

  • Global economy will turn around very soon: David Frigstad, chairman, Frost & Sullivan

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October 17, 2011

David Frigstad, chairman at consultant Frost & Sullivan, believes the global economy will turn around very soon and countries with good infrastructure for growth and a culture of innovation will reap the benefits. The European crisis is blown out of proportion, he tells ET's Atmadip Ray in an interview. It will be a race among BRIC nations to lead.

Q: Many Indian businesses are looking to expand overseas. What would be your suggestion in these times of global turmoil in financial markets?

A: The time for expansion is now. The race for market share and brand positioning can never be postponed, and once lost is often lost for a long time. It is important to begin developing best practice skills in branding, global expansion and demand generation now, if Indian companies want a strong position globally in the future.

Q: Do you buy the theory that the global economy faces a recession, given the economic situation in the US and European?

A: No, the global economy is poised for a solid growth. The European debt situation is being over exaggerated by the media with too much focus on dire consequences and collapse. Between the politicians' love of the spotlight and the media's tendency to sell based on negative news, we are left with a dire outlook for the economy. The truth is that there are many powerful underlying factors which will be driving the economy in the coming decade. Most are not tracked or measured by economists today.

Q: When do you expect the turnaround to happen?

A: We can see it today. The economies continue to grow despite the inability of politicians to lead and media's focus on negative developments. We are seeing CEOs in all countries around the world investing in growth projects and new technologies. We are seeing growth around the world and expect it to accelerate as confidence in the financial system is repaired.

Q: Which countries are likely to benefit the most from the turn of economic cycle? How do you expect the BRIC countries to react at this point?

A: The countries, which will benefit the most from the coming economic boom, will be the ones that have the best infrastructure for growth. This would include a strong government or business cooperation, inspired labour force, low regulation, competitive currency and culture of innovation. Each of the BRIC countries has some of these attributes, but not all. It will be a great race.

Q: Is there a serious leadership vacuum that drives the global financial markets towards successive crises?

A: I'm not sure if it is lack of leadership, or lack of control, or both. We seem to be vulnerable to greed. Most of the crises that we suffer are generated by lack of control and excessive greed. I am not qualified to answer this question, and I am not sure, if anybody in the world is.

Q: What is your view on the Indian economy?

A: It is staggering. Every time I come to India I am overwhelmed with the progress and change for the better. Obviously, there are huge opportunities to be leveraged as the entire population is integrated into educational and healthcare systems. The untapped potential in this country is hard to fully comprehend, but it is easy to see the potential impact on the global economy.

Q: Do you believe that India offers opportunities for global players more today than ever before?

A: Yes, everything appears to be moving in the right direction. India will be giving China and other emerging economies a very tough race in the coming years. This is why we are here. We see great opportunities for global players in the manufacturing sector. Manufacturing best practice expertise is growing in India and the government appears to be cooperative in supporting this type of development.

We are also witnessing interesting technology innovation in several industrial sectors, in which the country had not been a major player in the past. Over time, regulation and corruption challenges will lessen, creating a platform for improvement in infrastructure, logistics and communication. This will support economic growth across a broad spectrum of industries and regions. Many global players will soon look outside large cities for their geographic expansion.

Q: What is your plan in India as far as your business is concerned?

A: We have huge plans for India and the region in coming years. Emerging technologies and new business models will continue to accelerate growth and development in the region. This is where all the action will be in the next decade. Frost & Sullivan was one of the first companies to arrive in India and ever since we have grown our base and relationships. Unlike most companies in our sector, we started by developing relationships with local governments, investors and companies.

Our primary focus in India will be our Indian and global clients based in India. We focus on helping companies developing a visionary perspective which drives the development of innovative growth strategies. The growth in the next 20 years will be very strong in India and we see this as a key focus in our own global growth strategy.

Q: What is your outlook for S-E Asia?

A: Companies in both India and China are overly focused on being low-cost provider. In the coming years, this strategy will grow to be obsolete and winning companies will have unique positioning strategies in the market and will have integrated more innovation into their products and/or business models. As the world economy globalises and some of the key mega trends take hold, we will see a huge increase in global competitive intensity in all fields.

This will result in great opportunities for innovation as well as a long list of failed firms. The firms in India have a great chance at making this transition a success.