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BLOGDigital Transformation Strategy: New geographies

by Randall CraigFiled in: Make It Happen Tipsheet, Blog, Digital Strategy

After years of success, you finally decide to sell into another market. A subsidiary is created, offices rented, and staff are hired who are knowledgeable with the local language, culture, and business practices.

New geographic market expansion is a significant undertaking, often with both lower margins and higher risks. Yet is this really true today, in the context of digital transformation and disruption?

Digital Transformation Strategy: New geographies

Not necessarily.

Many organizations have bundled their products in a service wrapper, and many deliverables are often partly digital, if not digital-first. If either of these are true for your organization, the cost/benefit equation of widening your geographic reach has become vastly different.

Even so, using a “new geography” strategy for digital transformation still means considering a number of important factors, especially if the new geography is another country. Here are six:

  • Positioning needs to be clarified. Are you a foreign organization that also serves XX country? Or are you a local company that is part of a global organization? Many of your other decisions will stem from this one.
  • Marketing needs to be localized. This may mean culturally sensitive translations of advertising and content, or it can mean attending key trade shows in person.
  • Website needs to be localized. This may mean different sites for different countries, or simply different languages on your current website.
  • Support must be globalized. This may mean 24h support from a single location, or opening multiple global support centers. It also may mean 24 hour language-specific social media support.
  • Logistics and Operations. There is often complexity with both physical delivery of product, and in-market local delivery of services due to visa restrictions. While Zoom and Teams have been transformational, there will always be an in-person component for many.
  • Regulatory and tax compliance. Depending on the jurisdiction, either operating or selling within a country’s borders may trigger regulatory and tax compliance requirements. These can range from business registration, to collecting sales tax, to paying income tax, to different types of liabilities and warranty responsibilities, to labor and human rights compliance issues.

This Week’s Action Plan:

The biggest change required for a “new geography” strategy is changing the attitudes, processes, and systems in the home country. Once these are re-architected for growth — eg. “digitally transformed” — the path to growth is far smoother.

Growth insight: Each new geography that your organization enters pays off in two ways: stronger bottom line, and knowledge about operating a multi-market organization. Often the latter is more important.

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