Competitive horizons

Strategic Direction

ISSN: 0258-0543

Article publication date: 9 February 2015



(2015), "Competitive horizons", Strategic Direction, Vol. 31 No. 3.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Competitive horizons

Article Type: Competitive horizon From: Strategic Direction, Volume 31, Issue 3

UK plastics industry views 2015 with optimism

Strong demand for UK products in foreign markets will benefit the nation’s plastics industry, a report published by claims. Another key factor is the anticipated increased demand for plastic components from automotive manufacturers, as the sector strives to meet CO2 and recycling targets. The report also points out the impact of the revitalized construction industry as providing additional confidence about the year ahead. It is predicted that plastics will also gain from the continuing shift towards automation. Installation of major systems should occur, as firms become more willing to invest in initiatives previously suspended during the economic downturn. Enhancing production efficiencies through automation will help compensate for the dearth of skilled talent in manufacturing and engineering in general. However, concern exists that a failure to address the skills gap through apprenticeships, training and other incentives will negatively affect future growth in various industries.

Inefficient collaboration is barrier to business success

Lost productivity leading to projects being late and budgets exceeded are typical consequences of poor business practices. A study conducted in six European nations by Cint and Loudhouse has found that many project managers are forced to use outdated technologies, as they struggle to adjust to the increasingly global nature of business. The research organizations identified collaboration as a particular area of concern. Continued reliance upon email as the primary means of communication is a common source of annoyance to project leaders. High message volumes and limits on mailbox sizes are among the main gripes. As reported by, the problem is exacerbated by reluctance in information technology departments to embrace newer collaborative technologies. When project teams are geographically dispersed, effective communication is even more critical. A sizeable majority of project managers surveyed by Cint and Loudhouse feel that time can be saved and costs better controlled if more sophisticated tools for collaboration are utilized. The impact on stress levels and teamwork can be equally positive, they believe.

The economy in Oman

A report published by points out that Oman’s economy should grow by 5 per cent in 2015. The continuing increase in the rate of growth is considered acceptable and less dependent on oil than in previous years. Expansion in non-oil sectors is predicted to be 5.5 per cent. Although high oil production is expected, revenues are likely to fall significantly as a consequence of plunging oil prices. The report claims that construction, trading, utilities, services and manufacturing will prove to be key growth drivers. Other factors predicted to positively impact on economic performance in the Gulf State include the completion of major infrastructure projects, stability in finances and the local currency, and the availability of skilled labor. Falling oil prices and the sizeable increase in domestic demand should further reduce the budget surplus, which stood at 8.2 per cent of Oman’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2013. Another significant comment in the report is the expectation that falling commodity prices worldwide will see inflation continue on its downward trajectory.

Food industry drivers in 2015

Ongoing consumer demand for foods which are healthy or functional is anticipated during 2015, according to an article published by The move away from processed foods to more natural alternatives is likewise predicted to continue. This will be reflected by growth in raw and organic products, along with wider availability of foods regarded as naturally healthy. Those using natural ingredients that are proven to benefit health are particularly expected to perform well. Similar expectations are evident about more widespread consumption of products containing seaweed or algal. Where consumer interest in certain flavors is concerned, combinations of sweet and spicy might flow in the footsteps of recent popular trends such as chili chocolate and salted caramel. The article predicts that sustainability will remain a salient issue and that more manufacturers will make the transition to using sustainably sourced palm oil instead of vegetable oil. Various apps might emerge in 2015, as technology firms exploit rising consumer interest in food and their demand for more knowledge about such as ingredients, nutrition and environmental and ethical issues.

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