going global – looking beyond technology

Technology has empowered companies and businesses like nothing before; organizations can expand and contract operations on demand, networks span the planet enabling truly global thinking and practices and this reach grants communications with dispersed teams on an unparalleled scale. But for all the benefits brought by the digital revolution there are still challenges in deploying technology on a global scale.

different territories, different challenges

Varied national approaches to regulation are one of the main challenges that global organizations face. South American nations are considered the most difficult in regulatory terms, with Argentina, Bolivia and Peru deemed the three hardest countries in which to achieve telecoms regulatory compliance. Global companies seeking to expand into the emerging markets of Latin America can find their progress hampered by this complex legal governance, with telecommunications – still a relatively new industry of course – often subject to complex and potentially expensive governmental oversight.

Similarly, other research focused on the Asian market rates India as the most challenging country in which to do business, citing political and economic factors as particular barriers. In India, a tool such as VoIP – a standard business collaboration tool throughout much of the world – runs into problems: it is legal to use VoIP in India, but illegal to have VoIP gateways based there.

The same is true in major emerging markets such as China and Brazil, where VoIP collaboration tools like Skype are also blocked or heavily restricted. For countries that want to track internet traffic, encrypted VoIP connections make it almost impossible to do so – so it is easier to simply block all VoIP. Even major Middle East states like Qatar and Oman also restrict VoIP.

But it isn’t just about regulatory considerations; sometimes the barrier to expansion in a particular location can be something as simple as network availability of in remote, rural locations, which might mean that satellite connectivity is your best option. But who is going to tell you about that without a degree of local expertise?

as locations vary, so do the rules

There are other challenges which might not be technological in nature but that do impact companies’ ability to expand as they’d like. Many countries are subject to trade and equipment transfer limitations; it may be that they are still undergoing sanctions from previous political incidents or they may have imposed their own legislation to protect local manufacturers and suppliers. In some countries for example, technology imports are restricted as they may carry military applications.

Either way, global organizations that want to import technology to assist their operations in a particular country may find their route blocked – so it becomes important to know how best to manage this.

What this means in reality is that organizations need specialist knowledge to help them; it is not enough to simply have the vision and funds to open offices in a country you have targeted for expansion, you also need the knowhow to make it happen. Ask yourself what regulations might be in place to prevent our sending IT kit in country, what legal entity might we need working with us to make the process easier, could we be better served by purchasing certain equipment locally rather than trying to ship our own in? Without having your own expert staff on the ground there, you could be entering a costly and time-consuming legal minefield.

ways to maximize your chances

The simple truth is that to be as competitive and efficient as possible when expanding globally, whether organizations are centralized or decentralized, speed is vital. Whether opening a new branch office, a manufacturing facility or a new retail outlet, bringing operations online as fast as possible is essential. Factors like time zones, languages and other cultural elements all play a part, and are vital to successful global technology deployment.

So before embarking on ambitious plans to expand globally, it pays to do your homework. Look into who might be best placed to help you both in terms of global technological capabilities and also local level intricacies that can make the path to success faster and smoother. In any business venture it is always prudent to minimize risk and reduce complexity as much as possible – growing your business in new parts of the world is no different. It’s just a question of scale.

Read more: Orange Business - a global provider of business communications

Steve Harris

I’ve been writing about technology for around 15 years and today focus mainly on all things telecoms - next generation networks, mobile, cloud computing and plenty more. For Futurity Media I am based in the Asia-Pacific region and keep a close eye on all things tech happening in that exciting part of the world.