Having the right approach to globalization will define successful leadership in 2010. While financial institutions toppled in 2009, new industries were born. While industry incumbents struggled to survive, new entrants thrived. It’s in the sharp corners of when industries and economies turn that new leaders emerge. Today’s leaders understand the importance of globalization. Globalization  is one of the fundamental laws of business. If business were physics, then globalization would be its gravity. The best products and services will be sought out, bought, and consumed by people all over the world, especially since comparative product information is now essentially available to anyone, at anytime and anywhere. And successful products and services will be produced globally to be the most optimally cost efficient and with the highest global utility. Now more than ever before -- the time is right for innovation outsourcing without borders.
Companies need to enable flexibility in their product development processes to accommodate market-specific customizations. And companies need to get more value out of R&D spending, and tap the best minds on the planet to create tomorrow’s products. Companies that are truly visionary are able to acknowledge without silos or bias -- that there’s a wealth of talent around the world they can harness. The industry that continues to push the limit in globalization is of course, the technology industry. Globalization and technology innovation go hand in hand. One area in particular that is embracing the innovation aspects of globalization is the growing converging technology market.
Convergence Here and Now
Convergence has become a mainstream phenomena. Convergence is essentially the merging together of the Information Technology (IT) industry and the Telecom industry. At a more granular level, it’s about the melding together of mobile/embedded devices, web services, and the PC.
The poster child of convergence is the iPhone, and much has been written about Apple’s revolutionary user experience and design. It was also the first mainstream example of a mobile phone where the differentiator was not the phone but the software applications running on the platform. Apple fundamentally changed the economics and value chain of the telecom industry with the iPhone. Apple essentially took a PC business model and applied it to the telecom industry. Instead of carriers dictating consumer choices for what software and content that ran on their phones, Apple steered the user experience and created a direct channel via iTunes for consumers to get content and software onto their devices. Instead of the phone being the centerpiece of the device, it was now the applications that drove the popularity of the device -- applications being developed all around the world.
The convergence of IT and Telecom isn’t just about industries bleeding into each other. There are many examples of entirely new forms of computing and communications devices that don’t tuck neatly into traditional categories. Cisco has been making major moves to bring their expertise and dominance in enterprise IT and telecom infrastructure into new markets, notably IP telephony and Web-based communications. Their Webex and telepresence technologies have become the de facto standard in corporate meetings, but they aren’t easy to categorize as products. Google Voice, Google Wave, and some of the new features in Gmail also defy classic categorization whether they are in the purview of IT or telecom -- their new Nexus One smartphone has completely integrated web services directly into the device. This is just the beginning as mobile devices that provide a seamless user experience across the PC and television through Web services are becoming the de facto standard in computing experiences. Microsoft’s three screens strategy – small, medium, and large – running integrated applications over the cloud is the defining architecture for all future Microsoft products.
Finding a Way to Win: Staying Ahead of the Shift
The forces of globalization and convergence are creating disruptive change in all industries and markets – just look around at the changes the mobile Internet is bringing to the automotive industry, the financial industry with mobile payment options, smart metering and clean/green connected home applications. The winning companies are those, who are able to translate the continuing uncertainty and the breakneck speed of today’s technology into compelling products and services around the globe -- and tapping into, for example, China’s skilled Android development community or Scandinavia’s multimedia and rich graphic designers.
In the face of increasing technological complexity, expertise has become a scarce resource and forming innovation outsourcing partnerships with trusted and established companies makes sense. The 21st Century innovator knows to look beyond their four walls to see the world of opportunity ahead.
Jacob Hsu is CEO of Symbio. Recognized by Chief Executive Magazine as one of the world's Top 12 Young Global Leaders of Tomorrow, and by the World Economic Forum as a 2010 Young Global Leader, Jacob is a graduate of the Wharton School of Business. Symbio provides advanced software engineering and R&D co-creation services to the world's technology innovators, integrating domain expertise, strategic consulting and design engineering talent across mobile, embedded, web and enterprise technologies. www.symbio.com