Page 1: Introduction
From the 1990s onwards we have seen the development of a ‘new economy’ based on the new realities of an ultrafast, ever-changing environment in which communications technologies have transformed the way in which the world carries out business.
Previously, the major players in the world economy were the big industrial battalions - the companies that produced physical consumer goods such as cars, fridges, ships, trains, etc. While these products continue to be important, it is the ‘new economy’ based on Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) which has transformed the nature of production in recent times.
This case study focuses on the way in which GEC, one of the UK’s best known companies, has re-branded itself as Marconi and transformed itself from being a producer of standard industrial goods (representative of the ‘old economy’) to becoming a producer of new technology products.
Marconi is a world-leader in smart broadband optical networks and it supplies the key technologies and services for the New Public Network and the Internet. With 45,000 employees worldwide and sales in over 100 countries, it is headquartered in London, listed on the London Stock Exchange and included in the FTSE-100 index. Today Marconi is one of the world’s fastest growing communications and IT companies, with a strong record of innovation and technological breakthroughs.
Guglielmo Marconi (1834-1937) was the pioneer of the wireless. Originally, he took his idea to the Italian authorities, but they were not very supportive. He then brought his idea to the UK where the authorities were far more responsive. He was encouraged to continue with his experiments, working first at the Savoy Hotel in London, before going on to make his first broadcast from Bush House which was to become the early home of the BBC. Marconi played a major part in the setting up of the BBC and he built his first factory in Cheltenham in the 1890s.