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Friday, May 13, 2005

How to globalize your business?

I want to discuss an innovative company called July Systems (Santa Clara, CA) that enables mobile content retailers such as operators, portals, content providers and brand owners to retail mobile content. The reason I choose to discuss the company is that while I attended a presentation by its founder and CEO Ashok Narasimhan what struck me was the firm's strong focus on globalization.

There is some good news for entrepreneurs here from Narasimhan. Globalizing an existing enterprise is no joke. The larger the organization the more difficult it is to make it global and change the culture. We are already seeing this when we hear that companies have had bad experiences with offshoring (which in some ways is a step towards globalization). But if you have just started or are planning to start a new company, you have to think of globalization from day one. In other words, when you think of strategic sourcing (of people, capital, raw materials, etc.), physical proximity should be only one of the considerations, and not the only consideration.

While July System is still small (less than 100 employees) and has been in business for less than four years, what the company has done is to find the resources wherever they can be most optimally located. It has offices in Germany, UK, Italy, and a product development center in India. I learned that many of their offices are actually virtual since they do not think that they need physical buildings to start a new office. The company is also promoting a culture in which you can work 24X7/365 but pick your own schedule.

July Systems reminds me of another company Semco (Brazil) that lets employees set their own work hours, bring children to their offices and come and go as they please. CEO Ricardo Semler calls this the "Seven-day weekend." He has also written a book on his experiences "The Seven-Day Weekend: Changing the Way Work Works."

What does it mean for you?

  1. Globalization can not be an after-thought. If in any way your business can be impacted (even indirectly) by global forces, you have to incorporate that in your business from day one.
  2. The older the organization, more painful it will be to globalize it. But when not globalizing means a certain death, the pain might be worth it.
  3. Virtual workforce is the new reality. With globalization and availability of technologies, it is indeed possible to work with people you have never met.

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Emergence of wisdom economy

How to deal with structural changes in the global economy?

Links mentioned

July Systems