I could write about 2012 as a year of extreme highs and lows, or be downcast and look back at the challenges and expect those difficulties to a sign of things to come. But what did 2012 really signify? Reflecting on 2012 is in fact a chance to see that the big picture is markedly different from the daily headlines and common perceptions.
I'd be a fool to claim the world economy was not in difficulties, but a proportion of these difficulties are growing pains as organisations adapt, or fail to adapt, to the new economy.
With an increased focus on the real value of money in pockets and accounts rather than a default position towards credit, consumers today are far more discerning about their spending. This is resulting in a divergence in our economy; one branch is the bargain basement prices for commodity products, while the other branch is greater quality and provenance of the goods and services. As a result privately owned chains of bargain shops and cooperatively owned retailers like John Lewis and the Cooperative that back UK producers are doing well. The same trend continues in financial services, engineering and other sectors.
Throughout 2012 we have seen the sales driven culture that has dominated the world economy since the 1960s continue to falter. The Machiavellian business practices of TV drama Mad Men should be viewed in its historical and fictional context, but sadly all too often Mad Men bears to close a resemblance to present-day business fact. The mud-slinging between the UK's Autonomy and HP is yet another tale of the sales culture riding rough shod over the needs of customers. Too many CIOs have shared similar pains with this title.
The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympics games were more than two weeks of distraction from world events, they gave the world an insight into modern Britain - a multi-cultural community that is full of desire, passion, is a great team and thrives in the face of adversity. Too many beyond these shores and within wanted us to fail, and those with only a scant knowledge of our history and community know that was never likely to happen.
And the games have and must serve as a reminder of our position in the world. We will never be the dominant power like our Empire days again, but we will always be a contender, a team that attracts respect, a desire to compete against and a hope for partnership with. Our geographic position in the world, our history, education, business and technology acumen will be our security.
But security comes from a focus on quality, all too often this year we have been knocked off course by incidents of slack behaviour, whether the Libor ratings scandal, standards at the BBC, the Leveson Inquiry and others. Our global reputation is one of quality, whether our jurisdiction, products or culture, it is down to all of us as business leaders to remain vigilant towards quality.
The big picture of 2012 is a world in the midst of major change, some of it painful, but adaption with a retention on our core values and heritage, will see us through the pain and technology leadership is the key to all of the above.