The Hackett Group recently hosted its annual North American Best Practices Conference, an invitation-only event attended by over 200 senior-level executives from the leading companies. The theme: "Borderless Business: Integrating the Enterprise for Sustainable Success.” IT Business Edge’s Loraine Lawson asked Chief Research Officer Michel Janssen and Global IT Advisory Program Leader John Reeves to explain the Borderless Business and the technology challenges companies face in creating it.
Lawson: Your recent conference focused on borderless business. What do you mean by that?
Janssen: What we’re dealing with is as businesses move from being international to being global, what we use to determine whether it’s an international business or global business. The definitions are changing rapidly and the complexity is being driven into the business model.
Think about what Apple does. They introduce one product globally, which means they’ve got to be able to have all of their inventory management processes, all of their customer processes — or they may be moving in this direction. I don’t know if Apple actually has this stuff. But they’ve got the complexity.
It’s no longer enough to have a view of my North American customers and then have another database with my European customers as a different subsidiary. There’s an expectation for one view of their inventories, one view of their R&D, one view of their customers, their talent, their supply chains, their risk profiles.
It’s not that the goal is to drive everything to a global platform where you can sit in headquarters and push buttons and run the company, but you need the ability to drive a systems-level conversation to that degree and then be able to try decision-making in a global versus local context.
I ask executives, and I’ve been doing this for the last three years consistently, “Can you print a list of employee names?”
Lawson: And they can’t.
Janssen: I don’t have an exact data point, but the vast majority of them can’t print their list of employees.
Now that seems like such a trivial thing. Why would you even ask that question? Well, it’s indicative of governance. It’s indicative of the technology. It’s indicative of processes. If they talk about, “Hey, my number one issue in my organization right now is talent management.” Not technology, but talent management. That’s not viewed from the HR perspective, that’s from the business side.
So how do they manage a global talent pool or an enterprise talent pool when they can’t even print the list of employee names?