Sunday, February 12, 2006

Creating a truly global company.....

I tend not to be too much of a business "fad-ist" and tend to think that managers who latch onto the latest business buzzwords and trends in lieu of well constructed strategy are taking amateurish short-cuts and owe a little more to their teams, their customers and their shareholders.

A manager in this day and age is, of course inundated with a torrent of management writings, data and analytical tools, so the challenge is to filter through these things to find the materials that provide value and learning. The truth is that the world is changing so quickly (and has infact changed so much already) that as managers we have an obligation to keep learning, keep adapting and keep responding to opportunity in this new market.

One of the consequences of the modern business environment is that like it or not, we are ALL operating as global companies - it is just that some of us are yet to fully understand what that means and few are in a position to adapt to the realities of modern global business. I cannot profess to know all the answers here, but recent experiences have highlighted some of this new reality.

As I mentioned in my last blog, a week a go I returned from the Hyro office in Thailand, a now regular trip as we build on the capability and achievements of the business there and seek to leverage this for additional benefit for the company as a whole. One of the tasks I enjoyed while I was there was to attend a signing ceremony for the final documentation on an assignment we were awarded (and announced) late in 2005. Now that we have got down to the business of delivery, I got an insight into the global nature of this project, and how our company is adapting to respond to this need.

The project shows a great global collaboration. The client is a Japanese company, setting up a consumer finance business in Thailand. The Program Director is French, but his last assignment was in Latin America. The Systems Architect is Indian, our project manager a Kiwi, the developers are mostly Thais. The technology we are implementing is from Mexico, the client CIO is located in the US (LA), the application team includes people from Mexico, Columbia and Australia - all of these people working mostly out of their home locations and only to descend onto Bangkok when they are needed. This is a truly global project and Hyro is working as a global company to make this all work.

But HOW does it all work? Why is this possible in this day and age? How can we bring all of these resources together from around the world and remain competitive and commercial?

The answer comes from some of the BIG changes that have already happened. The biggest of them all if the arrival of low cost, high speed internet access. In addition to the obvious benefits of allowing us to shift files and things around the world, this technology enables us to leverage a whole raft of real-time collaboration tools - Many of them for free. Voice Over IP ('VOIP') allows real-time voice and video calls for free between all these locations. Messaging and chat applications allow us to keep in constant touch, share files, share workspaces and collaborate. It is not the same as being in the same room, but it is pretty close. The reality is this stuff works! We have a global team delivering a high quality solution for a global client made possible only by the flexibility that these new technologies bring.

There are other factors which make all of this possible (cheap travel, a more mobile workforce and so on) but for me the capability of the technology is the "pebble in the pond" which has kicked off a range of "ripple effects." When you sit and think these things through a little, the consequences are significant. As a company we have greater market reach than the immediate geographic market - we can work for any client anywhere, where ever our reputation reaches, or where ever our clients want to take us. We now have access to a global market for talented people - we can construct teams which allow us to access the best people in the world (luckily we already have a few of these) and bring these people together to create high-impact teams. We can leverage the very best quality, the very best availability and the very best experience and often without it costing any more than it does right now..... some times it is even cheaper......

These concepts, opportunities and challenges are occupying a fair bit of my time right now. Our business is at the stage where we have a good team of people able to commercially adapt to the opportunities ahead, but there is a lot of thinking and planning yet to be done.... and certainly a lot of reading. We can realise a lot of value by operating as a New Global Company - a company based on bringing together the best inputs for our business from anywhere in the world and looking for ways to constantly increase shareholder value by leveraging this global opportunity. The New Global Company will not be made up of many "offices" located in a variety of cities and countries. It will be a flexible, adaptable, technology enabled provider of value for customers, for partners, for our people and for our shareholders.

A good source of insight for me at the moment is The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman (referred to me by a friend - thanks Kate!). This thought provoking book provides some insights into the sorts of changes I have only begun to touch on above. You have two choices when you read this book; to see the potential and opportunity of the "flattening world" or to prefer to see a more negative view. Read it and come to your own conclusions....

Some links to find the book:

I cop a lot of ribbing for believing this, but I remain resolute in my position - I DO love what we do, because we DO get to change the world!


Maxus BANGERMAN said...

G'day Richard

Good blog - interesting perspective



joebosco said...

The global delivery model is way forward. And any firm unable to leverage on strengths from people and resources around the world will be limited in its growth. But it is not easy to use this model