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Chapter 4. ARE YOU READY TO GO GLOBAL? > Thinking Like a Multinational

Thinking Like a Multinational

General Electric has made globalization a priority and it shows. Nearly half of its revenues come from outside the United States and its more than 60 country-specific web sites help make this growth possible (see Figure 4.1).

Figure 4.1. With more than 60 localized web sites, GE embraces the world, one country at a time.

But you don’t need to be a multinational to think and act like a multinational. The Internet is the great equalizer. By localizing your web site for the world, you can capitalize on markets that years ago would have been unthinkable without foreign offices. But before you dive in, you need to do a little corporate soul searching. A global web site alone won’t make you a global company. One of the keys to General Electric’s success is that its employees no longer view themselves as part of an American company with foreign markets; they see themselves as a global company with local markets.

Reality Checklist

Too many companies rush off and hire translators without first assessing whether they are ready to go global. Before your company begins web globalization, ask these three preliminary questions:

  • Is your company ready to go global?

  • Are your products or services ready to go global?

  • Are your brand names ready to go global?

Just as a company’s English-language web site can open a new world of opportunities domestically, so too does each localized web site. However, localization will succeed only if the entire organization supports it, from the executive suite to the factory floor to the customer support line.

Localization requires keeping an open mind about foreign languages, cultures, and traditions. Never assume that what works in one country will work everywhere else; you must be prepared to take your treasured brands and products and rename them, reposition them, or scrap them altogether when entering a new market. In today’s knowledge economy, the companies and employees that are most “globally aware” are the best positioned to succeed.

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