Tuesday, May 20, 2008

IBM Lowers Internal Barriers with Overseas Service Program

In a recent report, Vital Wave Consulting named internal company barriers as a key inhibitor to emerging market business growth. Some large ICT companies have recognized this weakness and found novel ways to address it internally. IBM recently initiated a program that, if executed well, will give up-and-coming executives valuable experience in the developing world. The company's new Corporate Service Corps will allow 600 employees to apply their business skills to economic development and information technology projects run by non-governmental organizations over the next three years. The first 100 managers will travel to Romania, Turkey, Vietnam, the Philippines, Ghana, and Tanzania later this year.

Emerging markets claim the highest growth rates in the world for IT and communications services. Mature-market companies are working to understand these new markets to remain competitive, so it’s no coincidence the launch of IBM’s program follows their recently announced focus on emerging markets. Technology managers also realize that emerging-market experience is becoming a requirement in a globalized world. IBM’s Corporate Service Corps program is clearly capitalizing on the desire for developing-world business experience (more than 5,000 employees applied for the first 100 positions).

Basic business fundamentals teach ‘know your market.’ While IBM’s Service Corps provides top-notch business support to recipient organizations, sending eager ladder-climbers to developing countries gives IBM real-world training for employees. The business benefits are clear for IBM and other corporations who consider this path. Employees gain a deep understanding of IBM’s growth markets, employees’ job satisfaction may increase (boosting retention and attracting new talent), and IBM gets a street view of emerging-market business problems – the very problems its future customers may be calling on them to solve.

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