4 New Rules for Global Business Success

In his new e-book, Re-Think: A Path to the Future, former IBM CEO Sam Palmisano predicts that the traditional multinational firm will cease to exist and will eventually be replaced by globally-integrated enterprises. These GIEs, he says, will take a distributed “best of breed” approach to both structure and operational management by locating departments not only in different states but even in different countries, wherever the most appropriate talent resides.

Innovations in technology and process management will foster necessary cohesiveness and collaboration, creating highly competitive firms.

To plan for a globally integrated future, Palmisano and other experts say:

  1. Don’t let short-term economic and political issues drive future plans, as these “blips” will always come and go.
  2. Seek out team leadership with cross-functional and innovation skills.
  3. Partner with higher-education institutions to help shape the talent you will need.
  4. Lead your organization’s charge for change.

According to business process management firm Genpact, finding the right resources in the right place at the right time could lead to more part-time, temporary, semi-retired and offshore personnel. This could have a significant positive impact on personnel costs, training and overhead.

This thinking is in line with an age-old concept of focusing on key strengths and outsourcing everything else. But, as KPMG noted in a 2012 study, the new globalization model goes well beyond cost efficiencies. Companies can also “increase agility and flexibility, tap new capabilities and innovations, and gain access to new markets.”

Meanwhile, automation will continue to make some jobs and functions obsolete, while at the same time creating new types of positions in areas such as IT and HR. For instance, according to LinkedIn, jobs that did not exist five years ago include: big data architect; iOS/Android developers; data scientist; UI/UX designer; cloud services specialist and digital marketing specialist.

Five years from now, there will be an entirely new list of job titles that don’t exist today. This will require investments in the operational resources needed to find and prepare these staff to do their jobs well.

Another near-future need CEOs should plan for is translation staff and technology. Whether it means having a network of experts available on an as-needed basis anywhere in the world to assist in a meeting or translate a written document, or investing in voice-activated translation  apps, this new globalized spin on best-of-breed means that English will not be everyone’s first language. And increasingly, companies will need to collaborate with employees, contractors and partners simultaneously in multiple languages.

Additional reading:

Former IBM CEO Sam Palmisano on the New Rules for Global Business Leaders

The Future of Global Business Operations

The Extended Global Enterprise Advantage (by KPMG)