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Companies That Go Global Look At Basic Issues

Global companies promise tantalizing possibilities, such as international brand recognition, greater market share, and top-line revenue growth. Yet succeeding internationally demands greater business discipline coupled with principles that ensure consistency of service, realistic expectations, and achievable goals.

International Assistance, pie chartWhat's the best way to manage an enterprise that operates in multiple countries? Does a centralized approach in which senior management in one country governs the decisions and practices of an entire worldwide enterprise, offering a certain level of uniformity, make the most sense? Or is decentralized management, allowing policies and procedures to be handled by each individual country or region, more cost effective and efficient?

Expectations have to be clearly defined, too. Why is international development occurring? Is it to drive expansion, keep up with competitors, meet overseas demand, or take advantage of lower operating and labor costs?

Are there processes in place to rectify problems that could put business continuity at risk? Security threats, varied technology standards, and finding competent overseas vendors are just some of the issues that companies face.

And how do businesses measure the effectiveness of globalization efforts? Is it based solely on hard numbers, such as operation cost savings and gross profit margins? Or should more intangible returns--such as direct access to potential customers, the prestige of having a global presence, and increased brand recognition--count, too?

Many companies are addressing these issues. When InformationWeek Research recently asked 300 business-technology managers if their IT staffs are tasked with supporting globalization efforts, nearly half said yes.

So how wise is it for companies to ignore international business opportunities in this age of borderless commerce? Share your thoughts with us at the address below.

Helen D'Antoni
Senior Editor, InformationWeek Research

Mutual Goals, bar chartMutual Goals
Do your IT division's business priorities include improving support for globalization?

It takes money, resources, and commitment to grow business operations. That's especially true for companies looking to expand globally. So it isn't surprising that larger companies lead in globalization efforts. A recent InformationWeek study found that of 100 companies with annual revenue of $1 billion or more, more than half will use their IT workforce this year to improve international business support.

Collective Focus, bar chartCollective Focus
Is centralizing IT operations and management a 2005 business objective?

Companies might favor a centralized approach to business operations. Fractured operations tend to be less flexible, while uniform processes, policies, and infrastructure can be quickly adapted to changing business conditions. Companies are taking steps to consolidate their IT operations and management this year. Regardless of size, they report that centralization is a 2005 business priority.

Management Accord, pie chartManagement Accord
Are your company's senior IT and business executives strongly aligned in their 2005 IT spending priorities?

Having the right tools and services in place is vital to growing a business globally. Yet it's even more important to attain universal accord among senior management about a company's key priorities. The good news: Most managers surveyed by InformationWeek Research believe that there's agreement across IT and business when it comes to tech-spending initiatives.

Improved Reach, bar chartImproved Reach
Is creating marketing advantages a priority for your IT division?

Data-analysis tools, content-management systems, E-commerce, and collaborative-business applications all are essential for understanding and managing established or potential customers. These tools are as essential overseas as they are in the United States for profiling purposes. To win and keep customers, companies of all sizes are turning to IT to create marketing advantages that improve corporate financial results.

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