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On Top of the World

Category: Andy Marken's blog Published on Sunday, 07 February 2010

Global Business Requires Healthy Dose of Local Alliances, Thinking


                                   Source – White Heat, Warner Bros, 1949

Look Ma – It’s one thing to think of yourself on top of the world but if you work in an Internet-based universe some folks just won’t let you be in 100 percent control.  Dealing in different countries requires a solid understanding/appreciation of “their” view of the world.  If you don’t…

It is a shock to many, but Google did not develop the Internet. 

It may also come as a shock to Eric, Jerry, Sergey that they are not the Internet.

It certainly comes as a shock to governments and legislators that they are not the Internet.

It doesn’t come as much of a shock to cybersnoops/thieves because they bounce around reaping benefits from …all of them!

The Internet is a unique “product” in that it is owned by no one and everyone. 

It has no borders (corporate or national). 

It is there to be used for news…information…entertainment…communications…good/evil.

Google is “just” a search engine.

A search engine that makes available, develops, grabs, analyzes and sells a lot of things.

They know more about you than you know about you. 

And the information is for sale!

Google like all of the Web X.0 organizations -- and in truth all companies -- make their profits by operating within individual countries and being used by businesses and individuals. 

Google and all search engines have their published guidelines for usage. 

Local Rules

Countries of the globe have their rules for operating inside their borders. 

Countries, companies, cybercriminals use search engines every day to:

-          research (you may call it spy if you prefer) what is going on with their “competitors,” customers, prospects

-          spread their versions of news, information, misinformation

-          track “pertinent” information

Google voiced indignation that someone was hacking/tracking them but one has to wonder:

1.      If Google wasn’t monitoring all of the traffic, how did they find the ‘violations”?

2.      Is censorship in China suddenly a new concept? 

3.      Are there new guidelines for dealing in that country?    

4.      Do other countries (and companies) have rules, guidelines, filters on what can or can not be used, shown, disseminated, accessed by people in their borders? 

5.      Does that incite Google’s indignation?

6.      If Google pulled up stakes would the Internet disappear from China?

When we drive in England, Australia and a number of other countries we drive on the left. 

It’s the cost of driving there. 

If we want to do business in these countries we follow by their rules, their laws, their guidelines. 

It’s the cost of doing business there. 

They do it to sell stuff!

China is becoming increasingly attractive to most firms because:

-  it has a population of 1.5 – 2 billion (census is due this year so they can zero in on the number better).

            -  there are growth opportunities (sales potential) in every business/industrial segment.

The smart companies enter the market take advantage of the experience, talents, relationships of local market/operational experts and executives.

Importing teams, company guidelines/structure seldom works. 

Top of the World

Google says they “may” leave China because people have been doing more than the company does and apparently better.

Receding wouldn’t be a big financial loss. 

Ego sure, financial no!

Tough to understand that penetration didn’t happen as quickly or easily as they expected or projected. 

After all, they are Google.

So what if millions of people have had their identities, bank accounts and files/systems hacked in the U.S. and other countries?

So what if billions are stolen from companies by individuals and groups who make their living hacking?


Tough as it is to swallow, Google isn’t different from any company expecting to operate on a global scale.

By circling the corporate wagons rather than work within the system (something they did for years) Google and others only exacerbate the situation. 

It is a situation that has probably helped leading economic indicators result in a U.S. trade deficit of more than $36.5 billion. 

It sends clear signals to their international competitors that the firms aren't interested in selling to 95 percent of the world's population…except on their terms.

As important as financial success is, these companies also abandon vital intelligence outposts.  Outposts that can keep firms abreast of plans and actions of foreign competitors as well as provide solid inputs for next generation products and solutions.

 Your Options

Firms have three choices in entering a country’s markets:

                        * Establish their own corporate presence in key countries

                        * Acquire a local competitor

                        * Establish a relationship with a local, established distributor

For years, European and Asian manufacturers failed in the U.S. market. 

They tried distributors and were “uncomfortable” with the way the operated and the speed of sales results. 

They opened their own offices, sent in their own people and launched programs and activities that worked at home. 

They were overwhelmed with disappointment. 


Firms that have attempted to impose their policies, programs and activities have found that rather than providing a blueprint for success, they became a roadmap to disaster.    

Even as the Internet has eliminated country borders to produce a global economy and global marketplace, there are differences. 

Local Presence

Increasingly global-hungry firms establish their own business units within the countries.

That requires local executives who not only understand the language and customs but also steeped in the country’s business and political climates.          

Whether corporate management likes it or not, the local organization is the company in that country. 

Even a behemoth cloud like Google.           

The company makes its living riding on the back of the Internet.

The Internet we take so for granted is one of the few government projects that really succeeded.  They funded it, stood back and let people who were really smart make it work.

Most who now want to make huge bucks off Web X.0 never waded through the difficulty of CompuServe.  Only the “real” members of the press had addresses at The Well.

None of the folks like Vint Cerf, Push Mohta and the other early implementers ever thought that the network of networks would have so many buyers, sellers, hackers, pickpockets and hangers-on. 

It's a masterpiece of ingenuity.  

They wired up research institutions and college campuses to foster technical, scientific exchange.

Set It Free

Then they shared the instant communications capabilities with businesses.

Then they put it into the hands or ordinary folks.

It is not a place controlled by individual governments, a single company.

Official demands. means these people really don’t understand how the business of global business works…let alone how the Internet functions.

If the company isn't willing to commit the time, money and effort to work within the local structure, management would be wiser to forget about looking at the greener pastures on the other side of the fence.

They should focus on staying in their own back yard and give the appearance of global understanding and individual country adherence.     

It's better to be considered fairly good at home rather than a fool on a global scale.

Top of the World

As for Internet-based activities, there’s no going back. 

There’s no killing it.

There’s no running to your “customers” like your home country’s NSA, FBI, etc.

Run to the country you’re working within and ask for assistance, guidance, cooperation.

All of the “us” are different…different laws, rules, guidelines, nationalities, goals.

Understand it…deal with it…live with it!

Otherwise, folks will say what they did about Cagney in White Heat, He finally got to the top of the world... and it blew right up in his face.”


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