CitationDownload as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2003, MCB UP Limited
Globalisation has real impact on the IT function of an organisation. To be truly effective, a global organisation needs to understand what is happening in its many operating outposts – and needs the information about each to be presented in a common "language" so that comparisons and overall postions can be seen clearly. This probably means that sooner or later those business units that use a different IT system than "head office" must change, or even that the entire organisation must change to a newly specified system. This helps the issue of cross-globe reporting – and also helps those people that move between different parts of the company to maintain their skills and expertise. This suggests that not only should the underlying system be the same, but so should the user interface and the support structure.
If a user in the New York office dials 4444 to reach the Help Desk when something goes wrong, they might reasonably expect to do so when working in the Dubai office – or Hong Kong or wherever.
Yet, the infrastructure, the available platforms – even the underlying national telecoms infrastructure – might be so different as to make any such perfectly reasonable suggestion quite unworkable. There will also be significant cultural difference – in terms of both regional/national and local working cultures.
The smaller units around the globe may resent having large company IT systems – and working practices – forced upon them. This resentment may be sufficient as to affect the morale and productivity of the business unit.
Of course, as ever, the main approach to dealing with such a problem is to prepare in advance – and to communicate, communicate, communicate. These business units should understand the reasons for any standardisation if they are allowed and encouraged to see the bigger picture. If they can also see advantages for themselves, sop much the better. So, if the introduction of the new system means that they all get new PCs and other equipment, they may respond more favourably; they may exhibit a "Hawthorne" effect of responding to the interest and investment made in them. It may be also that introducing the new system may be able to relieve them of some previously boring or unrewarding parts of their work.
Technology also plays its part. Newer technologies are inherently more flexible, and it may be possible to construct a kind of "system-lite" for smaller offices which imposes lesser demands than those of, say, a full scale regional office.
It is a truism to say that people are the most important part of an organisation. Thus, the IT system – necessary and important though it undoubtedly is – must be seen to play "second fiddle" to the needs of staff. Wherever it can be adapted, without losing significant functionality, to the demands of local culture, local ways of working, local market needs, etc. – then it should. It may be slightly more expensive but it will almost certainly pay long-term dividends.