International growth has always been a challenge worth accepting.
Even more than 400 years ago, when the clippers of the East India Company were sailing for more than six months across rough seas to establish trade links between England and Asia, the rewards of global expansion were enormous.
Things are a little different in the 21st century. Advancements in technology have changed just about every aspect of international business – from transport and logistics to communication and trading assets. Yet, the underlying trend remains the same: companies are looking beyond domestic borders to achieve growth.
Spending slowdown delivers cost innovation
Despite technology enhancing business at all levels, investment from multinational companies (MNCs) has slowed. Telstra recently commissioned International research and data company Ovum to track the latest trends in international ICT investment and spending to better understand the addressable market. The research found that the share of organisations looking to increase their ICT spending in 2019 equated to 54 per cent, down from 67 per cent a year earlier.
The result is an increasing focus on cost-saving and operational efficiency. Almost a quarter (22 per cent) of MNCs nominated company-wide cost saving as the top business priority in the next 12-24 months, according to the research.
Despite that focus, enterprises need to continue planning for growth and innovation as they move into new markets. Delivering new opportunities is therefore increasingly contingent on doing more with available resources. And the best ways to do that are prioritising automation and upskilling.
Creating assets from insights
So, how can organisations make the most of these opportunities?
As Ovum notes, “leveraging data can be the most powerful tool in digitalisation. It can help transform business processes, speed up delivery and help achieve corporate goals.”
However, skills shortages in this area has created major challenges for realising the full potential of recognising and implementing data effectively. For example, world-wide, there are just 200,000 machine learning professionals capable of understanding and delivering meaningful opportunities from algorithms and analytics, and only 10 percent of those that have a deep understanding of this skill set.
MNCs must focus on making sure there are the right people with the right skills to help them support their company growth, but there is a chronic shortage of specialist ICT professionals in key areas. At the heart of this, having highly skilled data professionals is essential for successful digital transformation.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning are highly sought-after technical skills by enterprises, especially as key workloads migrate to cloud with hybrid models are expected to grow in adoption.
Complementing in-house capabilities
As competition for key in-house digital skills boom, many MNCs may look to providers to complement their existing IT capabilities in areas of need.
Ovum’s research found that the number one service provider capabilities desired by MNCs was “understanding and manipulation of data to support business goals” - a focus that increased in priority to be desired by 54 per cent of respondents.
That priority was followed by developing holistic solutions to resolve business challenges (53 per cent) and redesigning business processes to take advantage of digitalisation.
MNCs should consider partnerships as an opportunity to benefit from skills and service capabilities outside of the business remit. This can include offerings that help to improve efficiencies in order to prepare the business for growth, or combining skill sets in order to develop new solutions to support the company as it moves into a new market. The right partner will complement their business and align with their objectives.
There are multiple strategies towards international growth, and no one-size-fits-all approach. Regardless if a business looks to develop digital expertise in-house, partner with experts outside of the organisation or combine a mixture of both – once information and data become central to business operations, it will guide decisions, change processes and revolutionise opportunities.