6. Old ways of thinking about manufacturing are increasingly risky
The manufacturing opportunities of the post-Great Recession world are considerable, but making the most of them will require changing old ways of thinking. Not only do manufacturers have to figure out how to serve billions of new consumers, they also need to meet the growing demand for variation, customization, and after-sales service. At the same time, manufacturers must navigate a minefield of new uncertainties -- including volatile resource costs, greater supply-chain risks, upward wage pressures, and the difficulty of locating high-skill labor.
In the coming era, following the path of low-cost labor -- as numerous multinationals did in the 1990s and 2000s -- is unlikely to pay off. Manufacturers will need to carry out nuanced, multi-factor analyses of all the issues that affect landed costs (what it costs to bring a product to market), including risk. Likewise, policymakers and business leaders will need to understand exactly how their industries respond to changes in factor inputs (like rising energy costs) in order to make effective strategy and policy decisions. A one-size-fits-all manufacturing policy will not suffice.