This piece was originally published in the December 2017 issue of electroindustry.
According to former Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez, “nothing will destroy your supply chain more than technology.”
Drawing on his experience as a key player in the passage of landmark free trade agreements, Secretary Gutierrez spoke about the effects of technology on supply chains in his keynote address.
“Technology will change your business,” he said, noting its disruptive nature.
He illustrated this with a fable analogous to Moore’s law, which predicts that processing power doubles about every 18 months. Legend has it that an emperor was so impressed with the man who invented the game of chess that he offered the inventor any price he asked.
“The only thing I want is for you to put one grain of rice on the first square and then double it for each subsequent one.”
His wish was granted, but by the time the emperor got to square 32 and its four billion grains of rice, he knew he had a bad deal.
“If you doubled technological capacity every year since 1958, you get to the 32nd box today,” Mr. Gutierrez said.
This disruptive technology has dramatic effects on trade, he continued.
Having served as Secretary of Commerce under President George W. Bush, Mr. Gutierrez oversaw agreements that removed trade barriers, expanded export opportunities, and boosted global investment. He currently urges caution.
“With all these variables in trade, I wouldn’t make a decision today,” he said.