There is no doubt 2020 saw many businesses face setbacks, particularly in the hospitality and event industries. However, we are seeing just as many organisations maintaining their growth and succeeding in the face of adversity. For those businesses doing well in Australia, often the next logical step is expansion into a new country or region, writes Andre Morgan, CEO at CMD Solutions.
However, the current state of the world means the focus on cost has never been fiercer. While businesses want to still push on with their growth plans, they need to ensure they can do it in a cost-effective manner. If your organisation is about to embark on a move into a new market, one major consideration is your technology and infrastructure. Get it right and your internationalisation can be streamlined and cost-efficient but get it wrong and you could face huge costs and even potential fines.
Here are five technological considerations to help your business succeed in its international expansion, without blowing the budget.
Standardisation across all markets will keep you nimble
One of the key advantages smaller, growing businesses have over large legacy enterprises, is the ability to be nimble and agile. However, as businesses start to grow into new markets, there’s a danger each region will develop its own tooling, processes and systems. This lack of consistency is guaranteed to slow your business down over time as the management overhead increases.
To ensure you remain agile and maximise efficiency, it’s imperative to insist on standardisation of technology and systems in each region. One simple way to do this is to develop a Cloud Centre of Excellence (usually based at your headquarters) which sets the standards, patterns and processes that are adopted internationally.
Automate everything you can
When you move into a new region, you will need to build the technology infrastructure from the ground up (even if you’re working in a cloud environment). Taking an automated software-defined approach to creating and managing infrastructure and business systems will remove the effort of manually starting from scratch and avoid the overhead of managing disparate architecture and tooling which in turn will enable you to rapidly become more profitable in your new market. This approach will also ensure the consistency of technology across environments and geographies which is critical to maintaining a sustainable operation that supports business scaling globally.
Scalability will keep costs down
Normally when a business moves into a new market, it is a direct result of demand in that area. However, that demand might ebb and flow, so it’s important your tech infrastructure is configured so it can manage these peaks and troughs in an efficient and cost-effective manner. A cloud environment that is built correctly using Infrastructure as Code (IAC) allows you to scale up rapidly to meet increased demand but also scale down, if necessary, so you are only ever paying for what you need to use.
Consistent communication is essential
When you first set up internationally, you will need to establish a new way of working now you are a disparate team. Consistent communication will be key to ensuring success in your new region so it is important to determine exactly how you will collaborate. There are a plethora of cost-effective communication and collaboration tools available (think Zoom, Slack, Teams etc.) but, as before, ensure you have standardisation across the markets.
You will also have to consider different time zones and ensure each region wears the burden of early starts or late evening calls, rather than the responsibility falling on the same team each time. It’s vital there are good communication channels to ensure work is effectively progressed from one team to the next across time zones. It can be of benefit as well to maintain a sense of camaraderie and culture, by using the same communication tools for social purposes.
Don’t forget about compliance
When you’re looking to expand into a new region, it is imperative to remember that you will be subject to its laws and regulations. Each geography has different compliance obligations and falling foul of your requirements can prove costly. The consequences of non-compliance are not limited to statutory or legal penalties – the indirect costs to a company are often more significant. These include the inconvenience and cost of righting a mistake, damage to the company’s reputation or credit rating, and even possible loss of contracts.
From a technology perspective, one of the easiest compliance mistakes you can make when moving internationally is to not maintain the correct data privacy requirements. Ensure you have undertaken a detailed analysis of your obligations and have a solution in place that will maintain data privacy.
Seeing your business expand into new markets should be an exciting adventure and will require dedicated effort from your senior team to ensure its growth. Ensuring your technology is set up correctly from the start, and with geographical expansion in mind, will prevent costs blowing out and will give you a solid foundation for success.
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