Think beyond geographical boundaries

South African technology companies have much to gain by embracing and cultivating global alliances for sustainable success.
Joe Monakali
By Joe Monakali, Executive chairman and national sales director, Interconnect Systems.
Johannesburg, 18 Aug 2023
Joe Monakali, executive chairman and national sales director, Interconnect Systems.
Joe Monakali, executive chairman and national sales director, Interconnect Systems.

Companies are just beginning to learn what the Harvard Business Review (HBR) says nations have always known: in a complex, uncertain world filled with dangerous (possibly more highly competitive and competent, than dangerous, in the tech business sector) opponents, it is best not to go it alone.

I’d say this is good advice, especially in an interconnected world that knows no borders. South African tech businesses need to recognise the potential advantages of global alignments through fostering partnerships.

Success, and above all sustainability, is no longer derived by sticking to local markets. Companies must think beyond geographical boundaries and embrace a broader vision that transcends them. This is particularly significant in the technology sector, where the pace of change and innovation is nothing short of exponential. Looking at the greater global picture can unlock a myriad of advantages that pave the way for sustainable success.

Success, and above all sustainability, is no longer derived by sticking to local markets.

There can be a degree of resistance to broadening one’s horizons, with the HBR noting that in many businesses, management has come to mean control over enterprises, but alliances can by their very nature translate into sharing.

The review goes on to state that in a changeable world of rapidly globalising markets and industries, brisk spread of technology, escalating fixed costs and growing protectionism, globalisation mandates alliances and makes them an essential business strategy.

So, what’s in it for SA’s tech sector, regardless of size?

In a nutshell, this approach provides access to diverse markets and customers. When businesses expand their reach across countries and regions, they gain exposure to a vast array of preferences and market demands.

This in turn enables them to tailor products and services to cater to a broader range of customer requirements, which creates a strong competitive advantage. Understanding the intricacies of diverse markets empowers businesses to offer localised solutions that resonate with customers on the ground and on a personal level. By catering to individual preferences, companies can build strong brand loyalty and foster lasting relationships.

Leveraging global talent

Embracing a global mindset means welcoming individuals with varied perspectives and experiences, fostering a culture of innovation and creativity. With a diverse workforce, companies can bring fresh ideas to the table to solve complex problems more effectively and adapt swiftly to changing market dynamics.

Differing viewpoints lead to enhanced creativity, enabling teams to approach challenges from multiple angles, driving innovation and propelling the organisation forward.

Global collaboration also opens doors to a talent pool rich in diverse skills and expertise. South Africa is a country that is rich in its innovation and creative history. For example, SA was the first country to develop liquid (fuel) from coal, and pioneered the first heart transplant and first CT scan.

We have an illustrious list of accomplishments, but no country today is immune to the dearth of technology skills. Collaboration across the planet can provide a means for companies to access highly-skilled professionals from different regions, broadening their capabilities and potential for success.

The exchange of knowledge and skills across borders enriches the collective wisdom of businesses, kindling collaboration and igniting creative sparks that can transform industries.

Risk mitigation

Operating in a single market can expose businesses and make them vulnerable to local economic fluctuations and political uncertainties. By expanding globally and building partnerships, companies can diversify this risk.

We all know that where one market faces challenges, others may thrive, providing a safety net to safeguard against potential disruptions. This type of resilience can prove crucial during tough economic times, as companies with a global presence can adapt to changing circumstances more effectively.

Global partnerships can also facilitate access to resources during times of crisis. Collaborating with organisations from different regions enables the pooling of resources and expertise to tackle challenges collectively.

This shared resilience fosters a sense of interconnectedness and collective responsibility, reinforcing the idea that together, we can overcome obstacles.

Knowledge sharing

Collaborating with international partners brings contact with different working styles, fosters continuous learning, best practices and industry insights.

Such cross-cultural interactions foster mutual growth and enhance operational efficiencies. It opens doors to new technologies, innovative processes and cutting-edge advancements that can elevate a company's competitive advantage.

Access to capital

An important side effect of global alignment is that it can attract investment interest and with it access to diverse sources of capital, as investors seek companies with a potential for higher returns.

A well-established international presence enhances a company's credibility and instils confidence in potential investors, which opens doors to funding, helping businesses secure the capital needed for expansion and innovation.

As we look to the future, let us remember that building a better world is not just about individual success; it is about collective progress.

Already, organisations are operating around the world that specialise in representing specific technology sectors and focus on bringing together like-minded, accredited, specialist service providers.

By working together across borders, cultures and ideologies, we can create a global community that shares knowledge. Pursuing this approach can help South African tech companies, especially in our highly-entrepreneurial SME sector, to drive success on an international stage.