The CIO's Role in Going Global, Part 1

Preston Williams III, CIO and Senior Partner, GBC Global Services | 6/14/2012 | 9 comments

Preston Williams III
The global marketplace is quickly becoming a more integrated environment where individuals and businesses collaborate in real time across multiple geographies. This is possible today because of new innovations in technologies and the ability to work seamlessly in virtual space. The development of cloud technologies, as well as the availability of on-demand solutions, knowledge workers, and equipment resources, makes it possible to operate as a global player in a growing marketplace.

But should your organization go global? Are you ready to make the move? The Chief Information Officer is key to answering these questions and getting this right. In this two-part article, I'll examine the key issues the CIO needs to consider when taking the enterprise global and the traits a company needs to do it right. [Ed. note: Preston will also be doing a live interview on this topic on Monday, June 18, at 2:00 p.m. ET.]

There are many things for a company to consider before deciding to distribute its resources across many different countries. Several companies become “international” as they strive to make their products and services available in different countries. They calculate that they can increase revenue as well as brand recognition/appreciation in multiple markets. To accomplish this, the leadership has to understand the difference between an international or multinational company versus a truly “global” business. And the CIO must help the rest of the business leaders understand these complexities.

The CIO should be responsible for creating and managing a Global Project Management Office, which must ensure that stakeholders across the globe can exchange information quickly and challenges can be resolved in a timely fashion.

Some key variables to consider when an organization makes the decision to become a global business can be identified as follows.

Portfolio: products and services
The company should conduct a proactive market analysis to determine consumers’ appetite for its portfolio of products and services in both its domestic and international markets. The review should be as realistic as possible since the ability to properly identify and manage revenue streams is dependent on good information.

Staffing: human capital
This is a critical factor in creating a strategic plan to achieve the goal of becoming a truly global company with a singular mission and unified message. The organization must prepare to acquire the caliber of human capital required to deliver the kind of service associated with its products. To achieve maximum satisfaction in a demanding, customer-driven global market place, businesses must be willing to be nimble and make timely shifts in order to retain loyal customers. Most successful businesses today operate efficiently in an on-demand market.

When you take your company global there are many human cultural factors to consider as well. For your GPMO to work, you need to think about the following.

A company has to be prepared to deal with any number of universal issues that may increase productivity and ultimately result in increased sales and capital flows. Conversely, failure to properly consider multiplier effects associated with diversity may impede the chances for success.

Every country has a unique culture. To operate with meaningful results, each company must understand the nature of current and prospective clients in its local market. For example, in many developing countries, prospecting for new business often involves developing deep, long-lasting relationships with government officials. This is often the case because federal and state governments are still the largest consumers of products and services in developing nations. The private market requires a different strategy and approach. To do business in that environment, vendors and other service providers must be prepared to provide proof of performance. These customers tend to be savvier with contemporary trends and may select a service provider based strictly on their evaluation of the company’s past performance when delivering similar solutions to other clients. These customers may require proper references from satisfied clients.

Roles and responsibilities
When adequately defined, all parties can track the progress of the project and quickly identify potential problems and develop options to resolve these issues as quickly as possible. These roles and associated responsibilities can be properly represented using tools like Microsoft Project or Clarizen, among others.

As you can see, there's quite a lot more to talk about. We've barely scratched some of the technical issues that a CIO has to work out. We'll cover them in the second part tomorrow.

But what we've covered is the foundation required to create a Global Project Management Office. As you can see, they demand top-down engagement across an enterprise to make it happen. But if the CIO doesn't get it right, it simply won't work.

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Preston Williams III   The CIO's Role in Going Global, Part 1   1/4/2013 11:38:48 PM
Re: CIO Going Global
@ DINORUSSO: Thanks for re-iterating how important it is for the CIO and the entire senior leadership to fully understand the nature, scope and impact of various technologies and business practices on a global enterprise. The CIO's Role in Going Global, Part II sheds more light on logistics, legal considerations and other key considerations when planning to execute a global business initiative.
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dinorusso   The CIO's Role in Going Global, Part 1   1/4/2013 12:37:41 PM
CIO Going Global
From a CIO (selfish) perspective, going global has a large number of potential land mines.  Seek partners/suppliers that focus on global enterprises for assistance.  

By way of example, the implications of taxation can cause unnecessary expense if not approached correctly (e.g. local billing versus centralized billing - depending upon country and product/service). 

To keep yourself and other corporate officers out of jail (or at least away from fines), data protection and data privacy laws can be very different per country and can have a dramatic impact on IT infrastructure locations and costs.

Hiring local talent?  Labor laws can be very different from the US, particularly if you are used to an "employment at will" situation.  IT skills may be subject to very high turnover due to competition for skilled people in some geographies.

US commodities typically taken for granted such as electrical power and water, particularly in emergining markets, may not be as "reliable" as you may be accustomed.  Availability of certain types of telecommunications services may be restricted as well.

So, a few more areas that CIOs should be aware of in a move to global - in your move to global, "Choose Wisely".  

Technocrat   The CIO's Role in Going Global, Part 1   6/28/2012 5:32:11 PM
Re: Going Global: The Ultimate CIO Challenge ?
Absolutely Preston,  an undertaking of this magnitude requires everyone in the top tier of management to be in agreement.
Preston Williams III   The CIO's Role in Going Global, Part 1   6/27/2012 11:06:43 PM
Re: Going Global: The Ultimate CIO Challenge ?
@ Technocrat: The Chief Information Officer (CIO) or Chief Technology Officer (CTO) will need buy-in from the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) along with firm support from the Board of Directors to create a viable global IT enterprise.
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Technocrat   The CIO's Role in Going Global, Part 1   6/23/2012 1:23:44 AM
Re: Going Global: The Ultimate CIO Challenge ?

@Preston   I am glad you mention with the support of a leadership team and the Board of Directors.  And I agree this is major requirement for any kind of measured success.

Preston Williams III   The CIO's Role in Going Global, Part 1   6/22/2012 10:55:37 PM
Re: Going Global: The Ultimate CIO Challenge ?
I agree, Technocrat. Imagine what it takes to establish a local US business, take it regional and expand operations to all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Now extrapolate the US solution with a singular image/voice to Germany, China, Japan, India, France, South Africa, Liberia, Lebanon, Panama, Nicaragua, Italy, Israel, The Netherlands and over 100 countries across the world. For a CIO up to the challenge, it is a one in a lifetime opportunity. Especially with a supporting leadership team and Board of Directors. Otherwise, it can be a nightmare with long-term desvatating after shocks on the business and the CIO.
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Technocrat   The CIO's Role in Going Global, Part 1   6/17/2012 10:18:40 PM
Going Global: The Ultimate CIO Challenge ?

Hi Preston    I can think of few challenges a CIO can face more difficult than trying to take a company Global from a technical standpoint.   This is the project management task of a lifetime.  Needless to say, this type of challenge can make or break a CIO, but any CIO worth his or her salt would welcome the challenge.

Preston Williams III   The CIO's Role in Going Global, Part 1   6/16/2012 9:41:31 PM
Re: Cross Cultural Understanding
Thanks for your keen observation, Zaius. Several organizations have been struggling with the issue of cultural diversity as they expand operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). For example, many have taken the initiative to work proactively with the government of The People's Republic of China (PRC) to understand the people and their service requirements. To accomplish this, they actively recruit and empower local talent to successfully execute in-country programs. Companies adapt a similar approach around the world.
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Zaius   The CIO's Role in Going Global, Part 1   6/14/2012 11:37:34 PM
Cross Cultural Understanding
Yes topdown engagement with complementrary bottom up understanding. The case od doing business in China is one of those. THe Guan Xi system is very real and not well understood by outsiders. It appears to be some kind of mutual bribery, but a newcomer cannot outbid or out gift or out anything to compete with someone who has locel Guan XI with government, companies and individuals with networks. Understaning this culture is critical if you want to do business in China.

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Yesterday I talked about some of the cultural and strategic matters a company needs to get right before going global. Once those are taken care of, it can begin tackling the legal and ...
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