The economy is "not looking great" warned economist Andrew Williamson at the CIPS Annual Conference in London, saying "we're living in unprecedented times".
On a whistle-stop tour of the problems and slight improvements in the world economy, Dun & Bradstreet's (D&B) global leader of country insight solutions said the onset of the Eurozone crisis meant operational risks have never been higher for businesses.
He said economic progress made in the US looked like a "sunny upland" compared with activity in Europe, where a number of key countries had failed to make desperately needed improvements to labour market efficiency or the ease of doing business. A heightened number of political risks around the world are also stalling already slow economic improvements, he said.
Echoing a point made by CIPS Economist John Glen in an earlier presentation, he said emerging economies have doubled in importance to the global economy. Glen had pointed out that a decade ago business analysts warned companies they would be "crazy to be in Africa" and now the opposite was true.
D&B, which provides business information for risk management, sales and marketing and supply management decisions worldwide, powers the CIPS Risk Index. The Index gives an informed perspective on the global supply chain environment with a view to mitigating it. "Disruptions to the supply chain can have big impacts on companies but a lot of problems are in the second and third tiers where there is much less visibility," warned Williamson.
He said the company has always been a cruncher of 'big data' and uses the information it gleans from myriad sources including 239 million company records to produce its forecasts. It is increasingly adding to these sources by buying in more data sets and establishing wider links, like Twitter which measures employment trends to feed into its predictions in order to forecast further into the future.