It may be easier to establish an international footprint than you think. Thanks to technology, the entire planet has become a viable marketplace. On this week’s CEO Exclusive, we talked to Procurri Corporation Limited CEO, Sean Murphy, and President, Ed Flachbarth. In their opinion, taking your company global is merely a matter of following the latest trends and taking advantage of an accessible worldwide work force.
The needed solutions and strategies are well within your grasp. From the sudden shift to a 24-hour presence, to the need for the necessary IT infrastructure and “cloud” knowledge to make such a switch happen, you merely have to take advantage of your opportunities, as well as recognize where your strengths lie, and how to overcome your limits.
Beware of Cultural Pitfalls
One of the obvious obstacles you will face when looking to expand globally is the different way in which business is done around the world. From customs and traditions, to uncovering the thoughts and needs of those thousands of miles away, Procurri has faces such obstacles, and come up with ways to address them. Especially when it comes to people. “It’s been a learning curve,” Flachbarth states, “but everyone is pretty much the same. They want to feel respected; they want to feel like they are doing a good job. They want to see a path for the future and they want to communicate. Everyone, in any company anywhere, any employee wants to know and feel that stuff.”
For Murphy, the answer is diversity. “We have Americans in our American office,” he says, “so we have people from those cultures to make sure we are not trying to impose out cultural norms on some other market. We have a local touch and we have a global reach.” In truth, the differences are almost negligible. “People at their core are the same all over the world,” Murphy points out. “They want to take care of their families. They want to feel fulfilled. There’s really so much more about everyone that’s the same than different.”
But, what about maintaining your specific corporate culture? How do you get your mission across to employees both in the US and abroad? “I think you have to actively manage your company’s culture; it doesn’t just happen,” Murphy points out. “We have what we call the Procurri promise, which is trying to make sure that everything we do is with integrity, innovation, expertise, and excellence. So everywhere, in any one of our offices, you’ll see the promise up on the wall.”
As Always, it Comes Down to Leadership
With such strong competition from all parts of the planet, you have to be better than good. “You just can’t be mediocre anymore.” Murphy points out. “You’ve got to innovate. You’ve got to be excellent. The world is way too flat. They’ll find somebody excellent.” But the problem, again, becomes translating that strategy to different parts of the globe. “It’s just like parenting,” Murphy points out. “You’ve got to live it, you’ve got to walk it. It cannot be just a slogan.”
Flachbarth sees things a bit differently. “The leadership team at Procurri shows the rest of the company that a problem is not a problem,” he says. “We’re all human, things go wrong, and situations arise and that’s OK. But how you handle it is key. If you own it, from the top down, that’s really the difference.” For both men, the difference between a healthy corporation and a troubled business is the willingness of leadership to accept mistakes and take responsibility.
It’s the challenge for any leader, the difference between making decisions based on established business practices and going with your gut. “It’s a balancing act,” Murphy maintains, “you can’t be successful if you abandon every common business practice and try to have a feel good approach. We all have to decide what the challenge is, what are the ideas to address it, and then decide on the best one and then we have to make it happen.”
Planning and Preparation Can Make the Transition a Breeze
Since Procurri is in the business of helping companies claim their place as part of an IT platform worldwide, they understand the obstacles that need to be overcome to have a successful international footprint…and one of them is the “cloud.” “It’s really application driven,” points out Murphy. It’s also a question of accessibility. “I don’t see many people who are going to be 100% in the cloud,” he adds, pointing out that some long established company needs, referred to as “legacy applications,” may be too complicated or out of date to completely carry over to the new technology.
Another factor is the disruption going on in the industry. As Flachbarth points out, “you have a company like IBM, which was the dominant hardware company in the past. They’re thinking about what their future holds. They’re moving towards services, they’re moving towards software.” It’s the same with brands like HP and Cisco. This causes chaos in those companies which have not invested in the right infrastructure. “With all this disruption,” Flachbarth adds, “the common user, the company that is using the equipment, they don’t know what to hitch to, and they don’t know what the future holds.”
In the end, it’s about the customer experience. Murphy explains. “You want your IT to help your customers, to make sure that it’s helping differentiate you from your competition,” and one of the best ways to do this is to go global. “A company like Procurri is in about 20 different countries,” Murphy points out,” and we found it as a great way to grow our business.” Instead of being afraid of the overseas’ markets, this company embraced them. “There are a lot of great customers worldwide,” he adds.
By building a successful internal technology structure, recognizing the benefits of bringing your brand to the rest of the world, and finding the kind of staff and management that can handle the corporate mission as well as the needs of a diverse and complicated workforce, you too can become a player across the planet. The world is indeed getting smaller, and as usual, it’s technology and trends leading the way.