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Why global business plans require a global data strategy

September 2, 2014
By: BERNARD GEOGHEGAN, Managing Director, EMEA and Asia Pacific

Having enjoyed success in their home markets, an increasing number of Asian companies are ‘going global’ – and technology’s playing a critical role in their success.

From manufacturing and energy to IT and foodstuffs, companies in this region are seizing new opportunities for growth and extending their operations into new international markets.

The trend is particularly evident in China where restrictions on outbound investments have eased. As a result, Chinese firms are actively acquiring or investing in companies in other countries to support their growth ambitions.

One recent example is pork producer WH Group which in 2013 made the largest ever Chinese acquisition of a US-based company when it purchased Smithfield Foods. Meanwhile, e-commerce company Alibaba is poised for a massive IPOwhich could raise more than US$20 billion. Industry watchers expect the company to use the funds to increase its global activities.

As well as these mega-deals, there are hundreds of other Asian firms actively establishing operations around the world. All are keen to take advantage of lucrative foreign markets and emerging business opportunities.

For these international expansions to be successful, however, it’s vital each company’s underlying IT infrastructure also expands to provide the required support. Where previously having IT resources in a home territory would have been sufficient, this needs to be extended as a company grows.

The challenge is particularly acute when it comes to data centres. While a single facility can support a company’s domestic operations, it’s unlikely to be able to cover international expansion.

A key factor that comes into play is the physical location of data. Once operations are established in another country, both regulatory and practical requirements make it likely a company will need a local data storage facility there.

Keeping critical data close to local operations also helps to ensure low network latency and, therefore, improved user experiences. When trying to compete with established local players, a new entrant must ensure their systems and online presence is as responsive as possible. A local data centre is an important component in achieving this.

Having local data stores also allows reliable connexions to be established with new customers, suppliers and partners. Rather than needing to rely on long-distance network links, transactions can be handled within the territory. This removes any performance lag and ensures security and reliability.

A local data store also enables efficient analysis to uncover market trends and better serve customers. This kind of local analysis will enable companies to shift from a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to more tailored country-by-country marketing and sales plans. This can be particularly important when competing with established local competitors.

To support the data needs of our Asian clients as they expand operations into new markets, Digital Realty makes use of its extensive knowledge base and global portfolio. Through working with companies around the world we have gained experience in different markets. These insights can help other companies following a similar path. When you’re establishing a footprint in a new country, we can become a partner with valuable local knowledge.

It’s clearly an exciting time for Asian companies as they grow to take advantage of global opportunities. Ensuring your data centre infrastructure can support this growth is an important ingredient for future success.

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