Usually at this time of year, I write an upbeat end-of-the-year column about all the great things that have transpired and those yet to come. But this year I found it hard to write this newsletter with uncertainties about the U.S. state of the union, Brexit, borders and trade agreements. So instead of focusing on some of the unknowns and unrest, I would rather focus on some of the global truths-namely that we are a global economy and that the barriers that once divided us (like oceans and borders), have less of an impact than we think.
The internet has opened doors that were previously unfathomable. When my son announces he has "friends" in countries he's never traveled to, but "knows them well" (all through gaming), it is hard to believe until you see it in action. My son and I recently had the sad experience of going to the funeral of one of his high school friends. At the funeral, two boys - one living in Germany and another in Italy - approached my son and gave him a hug. The boys are living overseas with their parents who are in the military, but came back to share their condolences. I'd never heard of these boys, but learned that my son "knew" them because of his online gaming. I realized over the course of the weekend as I witnessed them comforting one another and sharing stories about their lost friend, that the relationship they had developed online is indeed a deep one that will continue the rest of their lives. Technology has eliminated the borders between these countries.
If 16-year-old boys have formed bonds of this magnitude without face-to-face interaction, think about the thousands of workers who now are part of the global trading community. The opportunities that now exist because of the much more seamless working world are endless. It is a confusing time when much of the political debate is centered on borders going up...but one global reality is that because of the internet, those borders will never again keep trade from taking place worldwide.
In that same way, SIG will continue to push you, our members, to look beyond borders and welcome the disruptive, innovative and mind-blowing technology that is fast becoming entrenched in our companies. We have an obligation to continually train, educate and help our employees reinvent their role(s) in our collective future. No one is too old to learn a new trick (or skill) and regardless of robotics, artificial intelligence and cognitive computing, human interaction will always be required to innovate and advance.
So as we approach the end of 2016, I want to wish you all a fantastic holiday season and hope you embrace 2017 with the passion, imagination and innovation that will help propel our entire industry forward.