PS Consultants - ideas & solutions

Dragging ourselves into the new Millennium
March 00

Regulars will know that the last few News Analyses have been generally bad tempered affairs, despairing at the gap between what politicians understand and what they say - and the yawning chasm between what they say and what they do. The UK’s position on the internet is too precious to be left to politicians to fumble, but thanks to politicians, there are too few IT literate people also to debate the bigger issues that face the country and economy.

I happen to know some of the few IT literate folk that advise the government, and they tend to be even more political than politicians, with enough agendas of their own to sink the Belgrano, so the situation may appear grim. Well, maybe not so, because we are seeing the start of some interesting moves as more than a few lone voices in the wilderness are questioning running the governing process on the basis of a constitution set down in the days of horse drawn transport.

Tradition is a sacred cow for the Brits, and I meddle with it at my peril; but consider these scenarios: you are Jesus Christ, you turn up on the planet a couple of thousand years ago. Do you:

1)       Adopt the then current practices, language, clothing and general demeanour, rending unto Caeser what is due unto Caeser etc.

Or do you…

2)       Dress up in clothing of some 2000 years previously, promoting the general way of life, albeit a jolly equitable “be nice to others” sort of existence, and the practices of 2000 BC..?

A tough one, eh? Yet there are many examples of religions that froze their outlook on life at the time of their particular Messiahs, and folks who question or ridicule this state of affairs are accused of all sorts of intolerance and discriminatory behaviour.

People who believe in flying saucers have vastly more supporting evidence to call upon, but that’s the power of the traditionalist lobby for you. One group of cranks are known as holy people, and invited to participate in learned government institutions around the world, the other are dismissed as raving nutters.

Now let’s wind the clock forward to the times of Cromwell. Folks wandered around in knee-breeches and wigs quite a lot, just like they still do in Parliament today. Correct, the mindset of Parliament is stuck around the 17th century. Were the Lord Protector (Olly) - or any of the other reforming parliamentarians of the late middle ages - to start with a clean sheet today, would he/they put up with the mountain of crap baggage that shackles the UK government today? Not a bit of it.

The US Economy has spent the past 3 years turning tradition on its head in ways that only markets know how. Once revered olde worlde industries have been kicked into touch to make room for the new internet and online businesses. Europe is having a tougher time coming to terms, and the UK is probably now in the process of actually losing ground on the rest of Europe.

But do not be fooled by the arrival of a myriad US-owned internet businesses that set up UK subsidiaries, this is the worst of all worlds. Politicians might think this akin to Japanese car plants in Wales and Sunderland, but not a bit of it – these are e-pirates setting up just enough of a local bridgehead to take our money and run, creating minimal local employment opportunities.

The internet, as proven in the US is about the opportunity to reinvent ourselves in business, and yet we have lost the plot at the first hurdle! All we have been doing during the past 20 years is swapping one collection of foreign businesses for another. Most net companies arriving in Europe seem to show a tendency to forget the principles of setting about creating their own new brands, and revert to tradition, heading for the first incumbent big brand that they feel they can associate with.

The net did not get where it is today through the creative innovation of people like CNN, Barnes & Noble and Toys R Us. This is because early net start-ups were not driven by traditional corporate and sales types but a wholly different breed  However, many net start-ups have long since run out of eclectic types, and in deference to the money pouring in, been hiring more traditional S&M people with a more traditional outlook, and it's no surprise that at last the traditional brands "got it", and began to make a response to the Yahoos and InfoSeeks.

There are many wonderful opportunities to create coherent pan-European brands in the new media age, and under the thumb of the English Language, too. So let’s start with cars and motoring, eh?

All car makers have a huge problem with pan European projects and identities because of an ongoing fiasco where prices vary by as much as 30% between member countries of the so-called EU. The EU is anything but a union, and as tax payers know, anything but economic. 

Maybe EU actually means Ersatz and Uneconomical..?

When one EuroBrand does eventually emerge, it may well be in telecoms (but not if the Germans have their way…). But guess what? The biggest non-local national telecom companies operating in Europe, are of course US owned.

But whatever you do, do not dare suggest that the UK  drops the principle of electing its government every five years, based on anything that would not have been possible to do in Oliver Cromwell’s times. We have our traditions to maintain.