‘Threat’ is really the new normal
Saturday 19th January 2013, 2:00PM GMT.
PERHAPS understandably, Guernsey’s retail sector has labelled the internet as one of the biggest threats it is facing. The loss of Jessops and the uncertainty over HMV and Blockbuster plus the dramatic increase in shopping arriving here via Amazon is certainly impacting on the market.
It is not, however, a threat. Uncomfortable as it might be, it is the new reality and there are few businesses that are not impacted by technology.
In the late 1800s up to 90,000 people were involved in the US ice trade, a sector capitalised at $660m in 2010 terms and utilising an enormous rail and shipping network, revolutionising the US meat, vegetable and fruit industries, and expanding the fisheries sector.
They thought they were in the refrigeration business by harvesting natural ice from lakes and rivers and selling it. But when modern refrigeration – ice from electrical plant – was invented in the 1900s, it was clear that the industry was actually in transport – and shifting the wrong product.
Today, customers are connected with smartphones and apps and can compare prices, goods and services and access reviews and competitors – and then buy online from anywhere in the world at the touch of a button.
In some regards, the consequences of these disruptive technologies are an issue for government as well as business.
The island economy is under pressure, tax revenue is being squeezed and regulation is more onerous. These changes – which are continuous – have impacted banking and, according to the Commerce and Employment minister, funds are now underpinning the financial services sector.
For a supposedly diversified economy, that looks like a lot of river ice to carry in one train, and reinforces the view that Guernsey’s priority is to maintain a business climate that facilitates full employment.
The credit crunch, anti-tax avoidance sentiment and technology is a potentially toxic mix and one that the actual and expected job losses announced in the last few days drives home with alarming clarity.
Government shrinking to meet the ‘new normal’ under FTP should be the precursor to concentrating on the central issue of fostering a climate that encourages businesses and employment.
CampaignsVoice For Victims
Voice for Victims is a campaign aimed at promoting the rights of those affected by child sexual abuse.