A couple of weeks ago, we explored the concept of how the adoption of cloud technologies enable SMB’s to expand beyond their local geographies and compete globally. In the past, this geographic burden seemed to outweigh the value they could bring to customer engagements. SMB’s are the cornerstone of modern business growth and innovation and are required to do things differently than their larger competitors. They do not have the competitive aspects of size and scale, so they need to focus on delivering innovative applications and processes to help define their value. When you eliminate the burdens of geography, these SMB’s can deliver innovations with precision and agility.
But going national or even global can be fraught with technology challenges, regulatory requirements, and operational process pressures. Breaking those three areas down a little more might help you to evaluate whether the potential gains outweigh the challenges you may face. Interestingly, each of these areas are intertwined, and therefore if you commit your organization to expanding globally, each one will need to be addressed.
Regulatory Requirements Overseas
Data privacy, data protection and compliance would probably rank as one of the highest concerns when investigating the potential of expansion. Depending on the market/s you are considering, there appears to be substantial variations of regulatory definitions among different countries. What is defined as confidential in one country may be allowed for public distribution in another. You see this across the European nation quite a bit. A couple of years ago I worked on an expansion project into Germany and the differences between the laws and regulations between the United States and Germany were enormous. It took a deep understanding of the tools and services that we provided and used, to ensure operational consistency across our organization, while maintaining data governance and compliance consistent with the laws of the country.
Operation Process Changes When Working Globally
Just because you built your business strategy to support your current operations, that probably does not mean you are ready for the looming change management that will go along with entering new, overseas markets. Adding new regions to your geographic reach means you will begin interacting with different languages and cultures. Working with your employees to determine the best communications platform that allows for live, multiple language translation will go a long way in breaking down one of the biggest barriers. You will also need to evaluate whether your current operational structure will support conducting business in another country, and if your current processes and procedures will allow it. Back to the Germany project, we had to identify the “in-country” requirements of operating a remote organization and overcome the language barriers. We used Microsoft Teams as our collaboration platform since it supported multiple language translations live during interactions with the client.
Technology Challenges with Expanding Business
We do quite a bit of security and compliance consulting with our clients which invariably leads to some form of a risk assessment. The most challenging part of answering and remediating against a risk assessment is the volume of control items that you are facing. Compound that with a different set of “other country” compliance requirements and the daunting, becomes insurmountable for most. For example, utilizing the right set of technology toolsets and understanding the shared responsibility model of software companies, will allow you to utilize those organization’s responsibility around maintaining their own software to help reduce at least half of your burden. Because software is built to be consistent and universally available throughout the world, investing in cloud-based applications reduces additional internal pressures on your support team.
These are only a few of the challenges and considerations that should addressed before your organization takes the leap. I did it a few years ago and the experience and education outweighed the challenges. Is expanding globally right for you? Only you can answer that.
If you want to learn more or are intrigued by how cloud technology and applications can help you compete, please don’t hesitate reaching out.