Five tips for global growth in an era of uncertainty
Recent research found that businesses operating in developed markets risk falling behind businesses in emerging markets, who are moving fast to gain a technological edge over established players. The research conducted by MORAR Consulting and commissioned by Epicor Software, global provider of industry-specific enterprise software, has revealed that executives in emerging markets were more bullish about using technology to provide the requisite flexibility and agility to fuel growth as compared to their developed market counterparts.
While business growth remains essential, according to research, it’s more challenging given the uncertain global environment and ongoing disruption– a scenario that may be stalling developed world businesses’ efforts to expand operations globally. Given the determination of emerging market competition however, standing still could be a big mistake.
In this era of uncertainty, how can developed world businesses bolster their competitive position to keep emerging market businesses from overtaking them? Sabby Gill gives his top five tips.
1. Assess and account for international competition. Multi-national companies need to develop strategies to counter increasingly strong emerging-market rivals - both the strength and volume of which is growing says BCG. These “global challengers” are fuelled by high aspirations for global leadership. Companies should take some time to understand their competition, analyse potential impacts and formulate a plan to respond to these threats.
2. Be brave enough to grow globally. With Brexit generating a great deal of uncertainty here in the UK, it’s tempting to take a “wait and see” approach. However, business leaders can think globally and take advantage of the more sophisticated systems now available to assist in growth further afield than Europe.
To make sure they are in a strong position for business growth, companies should examine their systems to ensure they are, for example, prepared to deal with the large currency fluctuations which may occur should customers or suppliers need to work in multiple currencies, or have sophisticated tax engines assist with global tax determination . In preparing for potential expansion, making sure that functions such as multi-lingual support for customer-facing documents or social enterprise capabilities to support team collaboration across borders can ease the challenges of an international team environment further down the line.
3. Invest in mobile working. It’s clear that attraction and retention of skilled staff in manufacturing is a challenge in developed markets. Three-quarters (75 percent) of emerging market business execs said flexible working practices and technologies, such as mobile working, are significant in helping retain key people, compared to just 62 percent of those in developed countries. By enabling your workforce with flexible mobile technologies, you can gain a competitive advantage.
4. Cut down on manual work. Emerging market business execs were also more likely to see the value in using technology to liberate personnel from manual tasks to focus on higher value-added work activities. 75 percent of emerging market business leaders said this was a 'significant' contributor to their staff retention, compared to only 65 percent of developed market business leaders. With servitization tipped to give developed marketplaces an extra edge, every manual process automated frees up valuable hours for the development of additional services.
5. Investigate web-based products and services. One of the benefits that emerging market businesses have is they aren’t tied to old business processes and systems. They are free to implement modern present-day business systems and processes that use newer technologies such as mobile and cloud to improve agility and remove complexity.
Companies that offer web-based products and services are better prepared to excel in the global growth arena, simply because it’s easier and less expensive to port digital offerings across borders. Many organisations use e-commerce to give them a virtual presence and an additional sales channel with relatively minimal investment. Even outside of e-commerce, digital capabilities can streamline operational costs, eliminate inefficiencies and provide the global 'glue' to bind the extended organisation together and improve collaboration.
Today, buying and implementing new technology is easier and more cost effective than ever before, so organisations can quickly use these capabilities to give themselves a major competitive leg up.
However, the recent advent of cloud computing is a great global technology democratiser – making powerful technology affordable and accessible to organisations where previously it may have been out of reach. In addition, with ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems designed for global expansion that support both local and global requirements, powerful toolkits are available to all to support global growth.
The significance of this is far-reaching and developed world companies must be vigilant and aggressive in their use of new technology, lest they suddenly find themselves outflanked by upstart emerging market businesses, potentially shifting the nexus of power in the global economic and business landscape.
Sabby Gill is Executive Vice President at Epicor
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Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.