Most notably over the past two decades, globalization has changed the manufacturing landscape at an astounding rate. In fact, according to McKinsey Global Institute, manufacturing represents 70 percent of global trade. With the significant rise in imports and exports of manufactured goods, shifting labor and consumer markets and a growth of a general international business network, manufacturing companies are likely to need a global strategy, and communications are central to such a strategy.
But basic telephony voice services or email can’t support fully integrated connectivity across oceans and time zones. Instead, many companies will need to embed or link their own telecommunications networks within other regions in the world.
Despite the high level of technical infrastructure needs, many manufacturers do not have a strategic plan in place for navigating the implementation of such international telecom networks. Without the proper roadmap, so to speak, companies may forfeit precious time and money trying to blindly equip a complicated, complex global telecom network. To effectively build an international communications network for success, manufacturers should consider four key areas before inking any contracts:
1. Delve into politics: Grasping a nation’s political climate can make or break your ability to implement the right international communications network. In many countries, telecom networks are highly regulated and controlled by government entities, meaning it may not be the simple “pay for play” system it is in many parts of the world.
In China, for example, you cannot just install an international circuit at your own free will and the way you see fit. You must instead follow the country’s rule of law regarding telecommunications — which can be extremely detailed and difficult to navigate without expertise and research. Officials enforce strict rules and policies that determine the extent to which you can integrate your networks and data with companies and warehouses in China.
Before working to link networks globally, be sure to research and understand the bureaucratic processes and restrictions regarding potential applications, licenses and network usages. Then move forward with the logistics that comply with public standards and culture.
2. Research telecom infrastructure: The technologies that support a country’s economic and political systems can vary significantly across the world. Thus, you may be limited in your choices for communications infrastructure, like fiber, Ethernet or wireless. For example, in many parts of Africa, you may be primarily limited to a satellite and cellular-driven network, which may or may not work for your business, whereas high-speed fiber optic networks are emerging in parts of the Middle East.
This landscape can also significantly impact the speed at which you can access data, and should be taken into consideration as you consider the feasibility of and strategy behind your global communications network. For example, while India’s download speeds clock in around 6.5 Mbps, Japan’s average is closer to 66 Mbps, according to broadband testing company, Ookla — so you can move data 10 times faster in Japan. It’s important to know any potential limitations on the front end of a telecom transaction to ensure your you can strategically build your networks in ways that optimize your company’s international telecom needs.
3. Get a feel for the carrier landscape: In much the same way, the capabilities of and accessibility to telecom carriers in other countries will vary widely and need proper research. Not only will you need to consider which companies can best meet your connectivity requirements, but you must also understand that in some countries, like Australia, telecom is nationalized, so you don’t have a choice at all.
Others will have market competition, but the service, and pricing may not be directly comparable to what your company may be used to in the U.S. Thus, there is a learning curve to understanding the provisions and abilities of each provider, which you’ll need to go through before deploying a comparative bidding process.
Even a carrier’s ability to provide infrastructure products themselves could prove unique to each country. For example, some carriers can put circuits in place, but they cannot actually physically deliver or install equipment in some heavily regulated countries. In China, for instance, some carriers cannot deliver physical devices into the country. Others, on the other hand, do have the ability to get devices legally and appropriately into certain parts of the world.
Knowing these nuances before you embark on your networking strategy can ensure you are best equipped to seek out the right carrier to set up the right network to support your global manufacturing needs.
4. Consider outsourcing: If telecom expertise isn’t found somewhere in your core staff, it may be wise to consider outsourcing, especially when working in countries where there are a lot of hoops to jump through, such as China.
Allowing a third-party to design, procure and install your international connection removes the burden of the above issues and ensures a level of expertise and support needed to keep your connectively robust. Generally, third-party telecom providers will have the experience and aptitude needed to fully research the various landscapes of politics, technology and carriers in order to make the process as cost-effective and effortless as possible. Further, by outsourcing telecom efforts, you alleviate other pain points often associated with international vendors, such as language and cultural barriers. Telecom-specific providers have the agility needed to work within and around international challenges so that you can focus on operations.
The smaller the world becomes, so to speak, the more essential a strong working telecom connection to other parts of the world will be to your manufacturing operations. But to make the most of worldwide connections, now is the time to consider your communication needs and begin to make your roadmap for execution.
Rich Brown is the director of sales at RCG.