The CIO’s Role in Going Global, Part 1

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CIO RoleThe global marketplace is quickly becoming a more integrated environment where individuals and businesses collaborate in real time across multiple geographies. This is possible today because of new innovations in technologies and the ability to work seamlessly in virtual space. The development of cloud technologies, as well as the availability of on-demand solutions, knowledge workers, and equipment resources, makes it possible to operate as a global player in a growing marketplace.

But should your organization go global? Are you ready to make the move? The Chief Information Officer is key to answering these questions and getting this right. In this two-part article, I’ll examine the key issues the CIO needs to consider when taking the enterprise global and the traits a company needs to do it right. [Ed. note: Preston will also be doing a live interview on this topic on Monday, June 18, at 2:00 p.m. ET.]

There are many things for a company to consider before deciding to distribute its resources across many different countries. Several companies become “international” as they strive to make their products and services available in different countries. They calculate that they can increase revenue as well as brand recognition/appreciation in multiple markets. To accomplish this, the leadership has to understand the difference between an international or multinational company versus a truly “global” business. And the CIO must help the rest of the business leaders understand these complexities.

The CIO should be responsible for creating and managing a Global Project Management Office, which must ensure that stakeholders across the globe can exchange information quickly and challenges can be resolved in a timely fashion.

Some key variables to consider when an organization makes the decision to become a global business can be identified as follows.

Portfolio: products and services
The company should conduct a proactive market analysis to determine consumers’ appetite for its portfolio of products and services in both its domestic and international markets. The review should be as realistic as possible since the ability to properly identify and manage revenue streams is dependent on good information.

Staffing: human capital
This is a critical factor in creating a strategic plan to achieve the goal of becoming a truly global company with a singular mission and unified message. The organization must prepare to acquire the caliber of human capital required to deliver the kind of service associated with its products. To achieve maximum satisfaction in a demanding, customer-driven global market place, businesses must be willing to be nimble and make timely shifts in order to retain loyal customers. Most successful businesses today operate efficiently in an on-demand market.

When you take your company global there are many human cultural factors to consider as well. For your GPMO to work, you need to think about the following.

Diversity
A company has to be prepared to deal with any number of universal issues that may increase productivity and ultimately result in increased sales and capital flows. Conversely, failure to properly consider multiplier effects associated with diversity may impede the chances for success.

Culture
Every country has a unique culture. To operate with meaningful results, each company must understand the nature of current and prospective clients in its local market. For example, in many developing countries, prospecting for new business often involves developing deep, long-lasting relationships with government officials. This is often the case because federal and state governments are still the largest consumers of products and services in developing nations. The private market requires a different strategy and approach. To do business in that environment, vendors and other service providers must be prepared to provide proof of performance. These customers tend to be savvier with contemporary trends and may select a service provider based strictly on their evaluation of the company’s past performance when delivering similar solutions to other clients. These customers may require proper references from satisfied clients.

Roles and responsibilities
When adequately defined, all parties can track the progress of the project and quickly identify potential problems and develop options to resolve these issues as quickly as possible. These roles and associated responsibilities can be properly represented using tools like Microsoft Project or Clarizen, among others.

As you can see, there’s quite a lot more to talk about. We’ve barely scratched some of the technical issues that a CIO has to work out. We’ll cover them in the second part tomorrow.

But what we’ve covered is the foundation required to create a Global Project Management Office. As you can see, they demand top-down engagement across an enterprise to make it happen. But if the CIO doesn’t get it right, it simply won’t work.

 

Preston Williams III

Preston Williams III is Founder, Senior Partner & Chief Information Officer (CIO) at GBC® Global Services. He is a pioneer & futurist with Big 4, Fortune 500, Global 100 & entrepreneurial experience. His experience includes Senior Auditor with Price Waterhouse (PriceWaterhouseCoopers), Controller for Lynn-Phill, IT Consultant with McGladrey (M&P) & Andersen Consulting (Accenture) as well as Project Executive at IBM® Global Services. Mr. Williams was the first Product Manager for Global Data Collection with Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) & the first Chief Information Officer (CIO) at Langston University. From 2002 to 2004, Preston Williams served as the first Chief Executive Officer (CEO) & Managing Partner at GBC®. Incorporated in Delaware, USA; the firm operates in Kenya, Liberia, Uganda & the United States. He has successfully implemented sound, reliable, dynamic, scalable & robust IT systems integration and financial management solutions in North America, Asia Pacific (APAC), Latin America (LATAM), Europe, the Middle East & Africa (EMEA). Mr. Williams is former Technology Committee Chairman of the Oklahoma State Council on Information Technology (CoIT) & former member of Innovative Technology Advisory Council of Oklahoma (InnoTech). He is a member of the American Business Network (ABN), EDUCAUSE CIO Constituent Group, Carolina Information Technology Professionals Group (CITPG) & the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Enterprise Forum of Cambridge. A member of the International Entrepreneurs Club, Preston is a guest speaker, published author & moderator of the Internet Evolution Executive Clan. A Contributor to CloudBook & Blogger with Enterprise Efficiency, Preston is Chairman of the GBC® Board of Directors, recipient of IBM® Global Services Leadership Award, member of The Harvard Business Review Advisory Council, the International Technology Channels Association (ITCA), Gartner CloudAdvice, Tech Republic & the Global CIO Think Tank.

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