Even the most battle-hardened experts have been taken aback by the changes sweeping through the world this past year. Globalisation, the great gain of the past 30 years, is in retreat, pursued by the twin demons of nationalism and protectionism.
In this newly chaotic world, there are a few constants for business. One stand-out is the relentless advance of technology, whether in artificial intelligence, robotics or genetic engineering. Technology has the capacity to make a positive difference to the lives of ordinary citizens, and this is the theme of 2017’s Boldness in Business awards.
Launched in the heat of the global financial crisis in 2008, the Boldness in Business awards have established themselves as first in category, with the support of ArcelorMittal in co-operation with the Financial Times. We have discovered inspiring stories of innovation in companies around the world, from the advanced industrialised countries to emerging markets in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.
This year’s winners include exciting newcomers such as DeepMind, the artificial intelligence company acquired by Google, Oxbotica, the Oxford university robotics spin-out, and Dollar Shave Club, the Californian subscription razor and personal grooming company bought by Unilever.
Yet, as Andrew Hill, our management editor, reminds us: “Defining boldness by the vision alone is almost always a mistake. None of the Boldness in Business winners would have made it this far if they had not successfully executed plans they laid out years earlier. Linking vision to execution is the essence of good strategy.”
It remains for me to thank my fellow judges — Robert Armstrong, chief FT opinion writer, Edward Bonham Carter, vice-chairman of Jupiter Fund Management, Leo Johnson, partner at PwC, Luke Johnson, chairman of Risk Capital Partners, Anne Méaux, president and founder of Image Sept, Peter Tufano, professor of finance as well as the Peter Moores dean at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School, and of course, my co-chair, Lakshmi Mittal, chairman and chief executive of ArcelorMittal.