Our columnist sets the stage for his forthcoming columns that reveal what it takes to leverage globalization.
By Atul Vashistha
Continual technological, social and economic advancements propel us further into a global business world in which business executives in Boise, Idaho can teleconference with business executives in Beijing, China as if they were sitting across the table from each other. Entire departments now work remotely from home offices and other locations as the rule rather than the exception. And with the cropping up of freelance online employment markets that serve as intermediaries between businesses and services workers, the ability to globalize is more accessible to businesses and individuals of all sizes.
The initial wave of globalization in the late 1990s and early 2000s was about taking advantage of lower labor costs in offshore destinations. With the inexpensive transmission of data, businesses can leverage the time zone difference with India to achieve 24-hour workdays. But those opportunities were only the beginning. Today’s successful globalizers understand that there are a number of additional advantages of globalization and embrace them—they understand that they can’t afford not to.
Successfully implemented, globalization can be a means for shoring up competitive advantage as organizations take advantage not only of lower labor costs but also diverse intellectual capabilities, growth and quality enhancement opportunities, as well as the ability to get products to market more quickly. Successful globalizers are constantly looking for opportunities to improve—whether those opportunities present themselves in Michigan, Mexico, Malaysia, or anywhere in between. Much more than bottom-line labor costs and longer workdays, successful globalization means a more successful business, period.
Some organizations and leaders have leveraged those opportunities successfully. Most have not. Successful globalizers realize that services globalization is not a one-shot deal. It is still a relatively new way of doing business; a new part of the business lifecycle that requires not only diligent planning, but also ongoing management. And it requires strong commitment from the organization’s leadership.
Not surprisingly, the companies and leaders that are successful globalizers engage in similar practices—key practices that other companies regardless of size can emulate. In my two decades of consulting major corporations on global sourcing, I’ve seen similar trends among firms that have succeeded in services globalization. There are seven best practices in successful services globalization, which I will present over my next seven articles. These seven secrets are about sharing those leading practices from successful globalizers.
The seven articles that follow expound the key attitudes and behaviors that successful globalizers share—and offer concrete guides for replicating their success within your own organization. I’ve paired what I know from my work with as an advisor to firms looking to globalize their services, with sage advice and stories from executives at organizations that are successful globalizers, many of whom were among the first to globalize services, including Applied Materials, Lenovo, Virgin, Cisco, FedEx and Plantronics.
Perhaps one of the most fundamental secrets of successful globalizers is that services globalization, like most business initiatives, requires a bevy of trying, learning and retrying. By understanding the paths that other organizations have taken to become successful globalizers, the learning curve on your own path will hopefully be shorter.
In the course of the next seven articles, I’ll highlight the following seven secrets to successful globalizers:
Secret #1: Embrace Globalization;
Secret #2: Welcome Globalization as a Transformation Lever;
Secret #3: Adopt a Lifecycle Approach;
Secret #4: Align Business and Globalization Objectives;
Secret #5: Assign the Best People;
Secret #6: Implement a Strong Governance Model; and
Secret #7: Embrace a Continuous Improvement Mindset.
Look for the details of these insider secrets in the forthcoming issues. Globalization is the wave of the future, and it’s time to ride it to success.
Atul Vashistha is founder and chairman of Neo Advisory (formerly neoIT), a management consultancy focused on offshore and global sourcing. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.