Modern business means global business and the fast-paced, competitive technology landscape demands technology OEMs have a global footprint capable of reaching new customer segments and global buyers. In fact, according to the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), the global tech industry this year represents a $5 trillion opportunity for those manufacturers operating beyond their local markets to not only reach new customers, but also a wider selection of resources, expertise and innovation.
Establishing your organization’s global footprint is a key component in moving your globalization strategy forward. However, completing this step doesn’t mean your organization has completed or fully executed your global strategy. Establishing a foothold in the global marketplace is just one component of many in an OEM’s strategy to reach organizational supply chain goals. So, keep reading to see how your company measures up.
Your Global Footprint Scorecard
Once the initial groundwork has been laid, going global offers opportunities for expansion, optimization and even simplification. To assess how well your organization is doing, you’ll want to dive into a few critical areas and ask yourself these five questions along your global supply chain journey.
CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE – How customer-centric is your global supply chain?
All too often, OEMs focus internally-out when strategizing their expansion efforts rather than following one hard and fast rule that applies to all aspects of their business—you can never go wrong when you do what’s right for your customer. The same is true for your supply chain. It’s not about having the mindset that you’re simply delivering a product. It’s about giving your customers the ultimate experience wherever they are in the world. That means the right product or part at the right location, at the right time and at the right cost.
EXPERTISE – Have you established the right team of supply chain experts to support your current and future globalization needs?
The complexities introduced with such geographical expansion require a team that understands not just your products and customers, but the bigger picture of what you’re trying to accomplish. One of the greatest challenges in globalization is simply breaking out of what you already know and understand about your business domestically in order to think more broadly.
When you expand your operations globally, it means more than applying your current practices and simply shipping to an international address. As operations expand, it’s easy to overlook elements of your business that are vital to providing global markets with the same level of quality, service and speed currently delivered to domestic customers.
Additionally, if you have domestic challenges within management, manufacturing, supply chain or other core business areas, those are going to carry over into your new regions as well. That means ensuring you have the right team—or partner—to effectively handle all aspects of a global supply chain today and into the future.
OPERATIONS – Is your company still spending time and resources on basics like order taking, invoicing, procurement and warehousing?
This really comes down to whether you’ve been able to offload some of the more mundane supply chain tasks—say to a global distribution expert—allowing your staff to focus on what really moves the needle for your organization: continuing to innovate and deliver market-leading solutions to your customers. It’s a classic case of focusing on what you do best and letting others handle what’s left to drive greater business outcomes all around.
FLEXIBILITY – What ability do you have to flex up and down to meet changing regional market demands?
Whether you’re breaking into the global market or already established internationally and looking to expand, ensuring the right distribution model and footprint with the ability to expand as needed is critical. Markets change and demand fluctuates, which means your supply chain needs to have the same level of flexibility. If not, it might be time to leverage a supply chain partner that can.
ANALYTICS – Have you been able to incorporate real-time visibility into at least some parts of your global supply chain?
An international presence is often necessary to meet your customers’ demands. But to ensure success, one of the most important first steps is to identify your specific supply chain goals and what that success might look like down the road, which can vary from OEM to OEM.
Going global is not a one-size-fits-all undertaking. For example, are your service level targets going to be the same for abroad as they are domestically? If so, is that going to be enough to compete with local competitors that already have a foothold in your target regions? And ultimately, what triggers will signal global footprint achievement? These metrics will form your ongoing checkpoints to gauge your progress along the way but only if you are able to incorporate some level of data analytics and real-time visibility across your supply chain, a critical aspect of any globalization effort.
If you checked less than three of these boxes, you could be on the right path, but may benefit from the help of a global supply chain management expert who specializes in identifying the gaps and the best possible solutions to get you back on track. For example, the right partner can provide a single, easy-to-use portal into your international supply chain providing you with the real-time data required for course correction. Beyond providing an instant global distribution footprint, they can also give you the cultural expertise and guidance required in each region, including everything from language barriers to local regulations and tax implications.
If you checked more than three boxes, congratulations! You’re on your way to new levels of growth and success, confirming a global footprint was the right step for your organization. The key now is staying on course and revisiting this checklist again down the road to ensure further progress in the right direction.
On the surface, the idea of globalization seems simple—you want to sell your products to customers outside of your country’s borders. In practice, globalization is a complex set of initiatives, processes, management structures, communication streams, workflows, physical locations and more. All of which require checks and balances to ensure you’re achieving your initial goals. Whether you go at it alone or alongside proven partners who can help you avoid the pitfalls, don’t forget to check in along the way and adjust accordingly for success.
Jay Fraze serves as the Director of Supply Chain Management Services within Global Lifecycle Management, a specialized solutions business at Tech Data.