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Global Forces

Helping clients rethink their businesses by focusing on forces that are likely to change and transform the global business environment in the next five to ten years

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If senior executives wait for the full impact of global forces to manifest themselves at both the industry and company level, they will have waited too long. Today, the biggest business challenge is responding rapidly to a world in which the frame and basis of competition are constantly changing. Any effort to set corporate strategy must consider more than traditional performance measures. Managers must also gain an understanding of powerful external forces and the trends those forces can unleash.

At McKinsey, we help clients develop strategic insight through strategic foresight. Our world-class Global Forces research center continually monitors and assesses the global forces that senior executives must consider to stay ahead of the long-term trends that are reshaping business as we know it. Based on deep macroeconomic insight and in-depth market-level research, McKinsey offers the most current knowledge on trends and forces presented in in granular detail. We also provide deep insight into the impact of such major forces as the role and influences of rapidly emerging markets; the need to accelerate productivity in developed economies; the ever-increasing connectedness of the global economy; the tension between rising resource consumption and the desire for environmental sustainability; and governments’ ever-larger role in the economy.

Our Global Forces serviceline helps clients recognize and capture the growth opportunities created by these trends—and protects their businesses from the downsides of emerging risks. We do this through three core capabilities:

Identifying and responding to trends

McKinsey applies distinctive tools and research to help clients understand and exploit global trends. We offer constantly updated perspectives on the large disruptions shaping the global economy and the implications of those forces on businesses. Our McKinsey Trend Maker library tracks hundreds of business, demographic, and economic trends across geographies and industries. We have methodologies for identifying, prioritizing, and quantifying the impact of trends—both at the macro level and at the industry level—and useful techniques for helping companies integrate them into their business strategies. We have sophisticated futuring and scenario techniques to help clients imagine future outcomes and then incorporate those insights into tangible business decisions.

Managing uncertainty

Established in response to the global economic crisis, McKinsey’s Center for Managing Uncertainty (CMU) provides tools and resources that track and navigate economic developments around the world. The CMU can provide global and regional economic scenario modeling for key global economies, as well as Current Country Intelligence (CCI) reports that offer a monthly review of crisis and recovery indicators across geographies. Our toolkit for managing uncertainty offers a scenario-based approach to identifying uncertainties, prioritizing for impact, and preparing for alternative futures. We also offer “first look” white papers on critical topics and one-on-one discussions with our crisis experts.

Macroeconomic insights

Our macroeconomics research center staffs more than 15 economists from around the globe. Crucial to this group’s work is McKinsey’s Global Growth Model—the world’s most comprehensive macroeconomic database and scenario-modeling tool. The Global Growth Model provides both global and national outlooks for more than 100 countries by combining an unsurpassed database of macroeconomic historical data, a long-term global scenario-planning tool, and local insights provided by our firm’s experts worldwide. This model helps clients embed long-term macroeconomic insights into their strategic plans.

Recent examples of our work

Trends and forces shape all aspects of business strategy. We incorporate our Global Forces work into a broad range of client work, from corporate strategy to risk management to consumer insight. Examples include:

  • Business performance
    We helped a global telecommunications company facing uncertainty in the wake of the economic crisis create accurate models for evaluating the impact of the crisis on business performance by business line, predicting the actions of its competitors in the wake of the downturn and assessing market disruptions caused by new technologies.
  • Industry outlook
    We helped a major global retail and commercial bank develop a deep perspective on the trends reshaping the banking landscape in the wake of the crisis, identifying new opportunities and new constraints, particularly in light of massive regulatory transformations.
  • Scenario monitoring
    We helped a global conglomerate develop a scenario-monitoring toolkit with performance-assessment criteria to monitor changes in the drivers of uncertainty. The client used the toolkit on each of its companies to identify growth initiatives and develop financial models for each scenario.
  • Consumer insight
    We used an analysis of global consumer trends to help a large airline devise a new approach to customer service, which became a key pillar of its three-year strategy.

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