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Sarah Elton analyses some of the key challenges of going global for medium-sized businesses, and looks at how technology can help.

For some organisations, the world may seem smaller than ever. The growth of globalisation over the last few decades has given rise to the truly global business, making it possible for businesses to work easily and effectively with partners, customers and suppliers on the other side of the world. For some, however, the world of business has never seemed more daunting, with the rate and ease at which some businesses are ‘globalising’ making those who are yet to embark on the global journey fearful of being left behind.

As with most business evolution, when it comes to going global, technology is a key enabler, with the right systems acting as a catalyst for global growth by addressing the various challenges that smaller businesses in particular may come up against. With this in mind, those businesses who are yet to take the plunge into international waters, should be looking to technology to help ease their transition.

Make the connection

Be it through acquisitions or through organic overseas growth, expanding the business into other territories always brings with it connectivity issues. It might be that your newly acquired business uses a different business management system to you, or that it doesn’t use any systems at all, relying on spreadsheets and databases to pull together all business information. Or, your incumbent systems just don’t have the capability to deal with multiple locations. For a business to capitalise on globalisation, it needs to have systems in place that not only span its existing business, uniting disparate and often inefficient processes, but systems which can also grow with your businesses to reach across operations regardless of location. It’s only with this level of connectivity that decision-makers can gain full control of the business. The right systems will amalgamate data from not only all departments within a business, but from all locations too, analysing this information to produce accurate, timely and, most importantly, incisive management information on which to base all business decisions.

International capability

To ensure optimum productivity and to minimise delays in operations, the need for systems to span multiple countries is a must, too. The most suitable systems for global businesses are those with the capability to handle multiple languages, different taxation frameworks and multiple currencies, negating the need for time-consuming translations and conversions. Also, the best systems automatically understand and work with local variations, such as regulatory requirements and reporting standards, meaning you don’t have to employ experts in these fields to ensure compliance, saving both time and money, all while increasing efficiencies.

Round-the-clock

Another factor that deters some businesses is the 24/7 nature of the global marketplace. Undoubtedly, with global working comes a requirement to never close, but again, technology is a key enabler here, with the increasing popularity of cloud computing testament to the fact that, for many global businesses, working in the cloud is the most cost-effective and secure way of working. Hosting systems in the cloud enables 24/7 solution access, regardless of location, with the added benefit of someone else taking care of security as well ensuring minimum downtime. For some smaller businesses in particular, the cost of providing such a round-the-clock IT provision would be enough to prevent them from considering this type of working, but the success and added security of third party cloud hosting is so great that more and more businesses are choosing this way of working, and seeing great results in the process.
 

The same can be said of systems support. By working with the right IT partner, your global business can have access to 24/7 support, rather than constraining yourself to in-house support, restricted to the working hours of wherever you HQ is located. This unfettered access to timely, expert support cannot be underestimated, minimising downtime and maximising productivity.

For those businesses for whom going global seems a daunting prospect, making the most of technology to facilitate their growth and transition to being an international player is a very wise move. It’s only by investing in the right technology that organisations can put in place the fundamental IT foundations from which to develop their business on to the global stage, and there’s no better time to invest than now.

What to look for in a solution to support global expansion:

  1. Work with a partner who has experience in supporting business growth on an international scale. They will know the common pitfalls and help you avoid them.
  2. Truly international systems are the order of the day. Multi-lingual, multi-currency systems are a must.Save
  3. You need a solution that will grow alongside your business. Anything that doesn’t will be a hindrance, not a help.
  4. Access to 24/7 support is vital if you’re to maximise business uptime.
  5. Look for a partner with experience in your particular industry. Don’t underestimate the value of industry-specific knowledge when it comes to software.

For more information on how Sapphire can help your business with its international growth, watch our free webinar now.

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