The current online trending of Korean Psy Gangnam video is a good example for small business to know that a flatworld is now existing in our globalised world where a business David can match a Goliath on almost equal terms despite the presence of limited resources. Still, as the author also said one should not forget its own limitations too if it is to keep its comparative advantages.
From BusinessWorld Philippines
October 03, 2012
By Arnel Onesimo Uy
Business, Gangnam Style
PARK JAESSANG who performs as Psy (short for Psycho) is everywhere these days. Pop culture is gaga over this South Korean rapper whose video “Gangnam Style” has about 450 million views and still rising fast. Officially released two months ago, the song has gone viral and spawned numerous parodies and versions worldwide. He remains number 1 in Billboard’s Social 50 charts two weeks in a row and has guested in MTV’s Video Music Awards, among other shows. His performance has even been nominated as best video in the upcoming 2012 MTV Europe Music Award. Given that no major recording company is backing him up, this achievement is impressive especially from a traditional business point of view. Park, considered ancient in the entertainment business at 34, is not your typical good-looking, chiseled-body K-pop artist, but he has succeeded where other K-pop superstars have failed before by making it big in America with this gentle social satire about class and wealth in contemporary South Korean society. What can business learn from this phenomenon?
The first lesson is about globalization and the use of social media. When business talks of going global, it is not anymore a strict requirement that they raise huge capital (although it helps, of course). Psy only needed to film his video and upload it. He did not need elaborate marketing plans or gimmicks and millions of dollars to promote his music. Social media made it possible for him to reach his audience — about 450 million views. Businesses should learn to capitalize on these new avenues not only to reach their customers more quickly and more cheaply but also to “hear” from them wherever they are. About 47% of Psy’s viewers are from the US (the other side of the world from Korea), and 900,000 comments were posted regarding the video. Nowadays, it is common for companies, both small and large, to have Facebook pages aside from their traditional Web sites. This has facilitated the faster “dissemination” of information as well as created a level playing field. Like Psy, small businesses can use social media to reach their customers wherever they are in the world even if they are operating in their garages. They now have an equal opportunity to compete with and succeed against bigger, older, and more established businesses. Thomas Friedman calls this a “flatworld.” In this high-speed Internet flatworld, businesses need to recalibrate their strategies and business models to challenge the traditional way of doing things to stay ahead of others and remain competitive. Psy not only reminds us of these new realities but also shows us their possibilities.
The next lesson is about entrepreneurship. Start-ups have something to teach big businesses — the value of innovation, creativity, and flexibility. They do not possess the elaborate but bureaucratic systems that plague multinationals. With the flattening of the world, Friedman stresses that companies, countries, communities, and even individuals need to be faster in order to stay in place because the world has gotten smaller and faster. Having an entrepreneurial spirit is the antidote. As a product, “Gangnam Style” is not a typical K-pop song with glamorous Hollywood artists. It was launched without much ado, yet it created something “new” and “fresh,” which not only Koreans but also the rest of the world (who do not even know what the song is about) values.
This brings me to the last lesson — knowing who you are is your anchor in this high-speed world. Gangnam style is in Korean. Psy introduced himself as a Korean in the Ellen DeGeneres Show. While somewhat subversive in the K-pop business, it is nonetheless K-pop to the world. Businesses need to know their DNA and to stay true to it. Adapting to market changes does not mean that businesses should forget who they are, where they come from, and what their unique experiences are. Having a firm grasp of your identity keeps you grounded and steadfast to old values amidst raging progress.Finding the right balance between the “Lexus and the olive tree,” as Friedman puts it, is the path each business must take to stay competitive and successful.
Today’s e-conomy is best described as electronic, entrepreneurial, and eclectic. Gangnam style is not just a fluke but a wake-up call for some to change but not to forget their DNA. Oppa!
Arnel Onesimo O. Uy, PhD is an associate professor at the Ramon V. Del Rosario College of Business. He is Vice-Dean for Research and Graduate Studies.The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of De La Salle University, its faculty and administrators.