CIOs are increasingly pursuing globalisation, seeking to improve operations across geographic and organisational boundaries. But globalisation is both an emerging and complicated change, and there are few signposts to tell CIOs which way to turn. To help create a richer understanding of what global CIOs can do to help their firms succeed at globalisation, Forrester recently conducted a series of in-depth interviews with CIOs of global firms to find out how they are globalising, providing examples of what works and what doesn't. Based on this research, Forrester believes that to achieve successful globalisation:
I IT's Organisational Structures Have To Parallel The Business' Global Charter (click on all graphics to expand)
Forrester found that successful globalisation occurs when IT changes in parallel with the rest of the business, no matter who takes the lead, so that:
• IT's relationship managers match up with the key business leaders. In one example, IT has a well-defined structure of relationship managers assigned to the firm's global, regional, and local business organisations. This helps to create business trust that IT knows what the business needs and keeps IT well informed about what the key business issues are.
• IT has business process leads who work closely with their business counterparts. By having senior, global business process leads, IT in another example runs integrated programs that both meet the specific needs of the enterprise business execs who own these processes and coordinate across the local units to help assure the local success of the global programs.
• Global services require both business and technology. In a third case, the CIO has brought the business and IT resources required to deliver global services into a single organisation, assuring that the structure meets the firm's global needs - and not just those of either the business or IT.
II IT's Processes Need To Be Well-Defined And Consistent Across The Enterprise
Forrester also found that firms seldom structure their organisations based on the business processes that they execute across their global and organisational boundaries, making the effectiveness of globalisation highly dependent on the processes that IT and the business execute. In all of Forrester's examples, to bridge this matrix:
• Global IT has to define common processes to be adopted across the firm. The larger and more complicated the business problem, the more the firm depends on common processes.
• Business processes must form the foundation for balancing global efficiencies. The focus on enterprisewide business processes yielded efficiencies consistently around the world.
• Managing IT and business processes together yields service value - not IT value. One CIO focuses entirely on business results, having brought together both IT and business shared services in a single structure.
III IT Should Incrementally Build The Required Structures And Processes
Big-bang globalisation doesn't seem to work. The movement toward globalisation has been executed step by step in all of the firms Forrester has interviewed.
• Process globalisation should occur along with the structural changes. One firm transitioned the business organisations to the global format just before it rolled out new global business and IT processes, part of an incremental ERP rollout.
• Many firms globalise process by process. It's common for firms to first globalise processes associated with the finance and HR functions - especially procurement - simplifying these otherwise complex activities.
• New ways to globalise will continue to arise. Globalisation is not a well-trodden path with clear signposts to identify best practices. IT's not uncommon for firms to try multiple models as they move toward global efficiency and agility.
Avoid Two Key Pitfalls That Lead To Globalization Failures
Given the newness of globalisation, firms that have tried to operate across geographic and organisational boundaries but have failed should continue their efforts because the potential rewards are too great to waste. According to Forrester, CIOs can succeed if they:
• Remember that business and IT have to change together. The ambitious CIO who moves too far out front doesn't create advantage for his firm. Instead IT should take one step at a time, demonstrating business value from the incremental globalisation and encouraging the business organisations to take advantage of the new opportunities.
• Underpin personal successes with business buy-in. CIOs who achieve globalisation results without business commitment can't rest on their achievements. Instead, they need to focus on turning the value they deliver into structural and process changes that will assure globalisation's ongoing success across the enterprise.