Meet the New Competition
The world's most popular outsourcing targets are giving birth to a new breed of global business players. It might sound scary, but for IT pros, this new development offers a huge opportunity. Ever heard of Johnson Electric? If you make vacuum cleaners or adjustable car mirrors, then you probably have. But did you know the company was founded in Hong Kong, adorned with a common Western name so as not to sound too Chinese?
What about Embraer? There's a good chance you've flown on one of their jets; they've quickly become the leading producer of aircraft with up to 120 seats. The company's birthplace? Brazil.
Those are just two of the companies Hal Sirkin and his colleagues write about to illustrate a game-changing trend in global business. Their book, Globality: Competing with Everyone from Everywhere for Everything, explores the growth of businesses from what we used to think of as the third world and how they're challenging the incumbent companies that used to farm out work to their countries.
You can read a full interview with Sirkin in the July issue of CIO Insight (and online in a week or so). [UPDATE: the full interview is up here.] In the meantime, though, here's a bit on what he said about IT's place in the brave new world.
The traditional way of solving our IT issues is to go to a very standardized system of operations. The problem is, to be successful in each of these countries, there's going to be the need for massive customization. It's the concept of "manyness." Manyness is going to be a challenge for CIOs, because it basically means (CIOs) are going to have to deal with more varieties of ways to do things and more flexibility, especially with management information systems. There's going to be less centralized authority. The authority within the company may be around the different standards, but each country--and each operation--is going to want to do things differently. If IT can accommodate that and make it work, it's going to be crucial, especially because you're going to see a lot more movement of people and ideas and goods between countries.
On top of that, CIOs will play a key role in attaining key resources—namely talented workers—and managing the global operation.
My question for IT pros: Are you ready?