The Emergence of the Real World Enterprise
Large companies have begun planning infrastructural and organizational responses to the increased velocity of business change and internet-accelerated data flow.
This real-time responsiveness is long overdue and will make corporations more able to flex with changing business requirements. However, I believe that many real-time enterprise initiatives will fall short of their goals because they fail to account for a major change in how giants like IBM, Merck, and Toyota operate on a planetary level.
No longer just multinational, these supranational “world enterprises” gird the planet with development labs, centers of competence, adaptive manufacturing plants, and customer service centers. Ideally they develop goods and services from inception to meet the needs of many markets; they rely on in-country subsidiaries to identify the value and adapt world-ready products to appeal to national tastes. These companies design their wares, manufacture them, and manage supporting data and document repositories to comply with national legislation and conventions from cradle to grave.
The Real World Enterprise Does Not Stop at Borders
Aspirants to becoming a world enterprise must deal with a flood of code, content, and data that does not respect national borders. They have to create language and locale-independent processes to transform this content into a form, language, and style appropriate to the needs of consumers in disparate markets and roles. Three realities will drive forward-thinking companies to become real world enterprises.
What does this mean in practice? To deliver on the promise of the world enterprise, companies will have to think less about being an American or German company and more about structures, products, organizations, and applications that work globally first, nationally second. To execute on this vision hey will need to adopt and adapt the techniques of simultaneously shipping digital deliverables, products that embed multilingual content, internal dataflows, and inter-company communications across international boundaries. This won’t be news to larger software and computer hardware suppliers that “simship” products to many international. However, this effort will put a strain on development, marketing, and support organizations long accustomed to simple product roll-outs within a single national market.
Donald A. DePalma, Ph.D., President and Chief Research Officer, Common Sense Advisory