Critical components of internationalisation

08 May 2019
United Kingdom , Global , News

Fraser Stewart joined materials management and logistics experts, ASCO, as a graduate. 18 years later, as Commercial Director, his remit includes the development of new, international business.

It’s OTC week, and as such, many of you reading this will have international business development on your minds. As a global industry, diversification into new territories has always figured to some extent within business plans. However, the past five years or so have seen a marked increase in this activity as companies have sought developing regions in which to build the same, solid market they have hitherto enjoyed in the now-mature North Sea. It’s understandable that reactionary geographic diversification might be slightly less strategic against a backdrop of home market uncertainty, so at this stage in the North Sea’s evolution, and with ASCO currently active across a number of regions, I’ve asked myself what I believe to be key in effective internationalisation.

One Size Does Not Fit All

First up, it’s clear that a “one size fits all” approach to internationalisation won’t make the grade; ASCO therefore splits its approach to global business development into two distinct streams. Firstly, we build activity in the locations where we are currently active (Canada, Australia, the Caribbean etc.), growing our presence with the goal of replicating the full portfolio of services we provide to the North Sea, and building the same legacy and occupying the same market position.

Secondly, we’re identifying emerging, transformational markets which meet our key analytical criteria in terms of opportunity, longevity, local partners and so on. Once in our sights, we then focus our attention upon ensuring that we’re providing that region with the specific services required at each particular stage in its development. In other words, we’ve not created an off-the-shelf, international version of our services, which we apply to all regions. Rather, we analyse each area’s requirements to ensure our tailored offering is fit for purpose. Ultimately, this mitigates unnecessary expenditure - to the benefit our clients.

Don't Neglect Cornerstones

Every company is built upon several values, designed to encapsulate its fundamental ethos. That ethos cannot be neglected during internationalisation. ASCO’s culture is built upon our fundamental obsession for service and safety and this commitment is absolute, regardless of where in the world we are operating.

Both pillars rely on adherence to robust systems and processes – many of which depend upon technology. A commitment to effective connectivity allows us to implement these systems and processes, which not only allows local partners to work safely and efficiently, but also create a solid context within which we can develop the local content that will take our international operations to the next level.

Most organisations are aware of the transformational impact digitalisation and modernisation can have upon their business, in particular in the portability of their service offering internationally. Technology and systems are now a pre-requisite in our industry, however it is not enough simply to digitise information, to deliver change you must effectively use this digital data to transform your business model and ways of working. ASCO invests significantly in working with our customers to enhance and streamline process efficiency ahead of deploying technology and then uses real-time, multi-location data to analyse performance improvement and efficiency.

However, it’s not all about tech. The real conversations and the associated relationship building that create a customer-centric culture can never be replaced; the benefits of taking the time to create meaningful global partnerships with your customers, including IOCS, cannot be underestimated. This way we ensurie we predict and adapt to meet changing requirements. Planning can be supported by systems - but systems will never supplant the importance of relationships.

Regardless of where your internationalisation strategy takes you, that combination of a flexible approach to, in-depth understanding and analysis of, potential market requirements, together with a solid commitment to your company’s core values are the essentials for success.