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The secret sauce for international enterprises: technology – your friend in international trade

secret sauce

It can feel overwhelming to think about working overseas, committing to contracts with partners, considering operating in new languages… and all the bureaucracy required to make it happen. Perhaps this are why the UK has historically lagged in exporting over recent years, but there is a huge range of support available to help businesses overcome such concerns.

[easy-tweet tweet=”The UK lags behind Germany, France, Netherlands, Italy and Belgium for intra-EU trade” via=”no” usehashtags=”no”]

Drilling into the matter further, right now the UK is currently only 6th in the league table of intra-EU trade. We lag behind Germany, France, Netherlands, Italy and Belgium. In fact, UK export value within the 28 state EU actually contracted two per cent in the period from 2002 to 2013. For all but two member states, Ireland and the UK, the value of exports of goods to partners in the EU increased between 2002 and 2013. As examples, Germany increased by over 50%; the Netherlands by over 84 per cent; and Belgium by over 43 percent. The largest negative intra-EU trade in goods balances are recorded for France (just under EUR 89 billion) and the United Kingdom with nearly EUR 79 billion (European Commission, 2015). So in relative terms the UK has been losing market share with our nearest neighbours.

Adding to the picture, Sage’s own research, launched alongside Exporting is GREAT, found that 75 per cent of the UK’s small-to-medium-sized enterprises are not currently selling overseas – and have no plans to. We questioned 400 firms and found that seven per cent export to Europe alone, 16 per cent export globally, but the rest do not export or have any intention of opening up internationally. Discovering that of our thousands of customers, only a quarter export, was a shock.

Overcoming the fears that hold potential exporting enterprises back is crucial to the economic wellbeing of the UK as a whole. For an individual enterprise it can provide a huge boost to growth that can compound profit on profit and allow a business to rapidly reinvest into the business.

[easy-tweet tweet=”A technology partner can help UK businesses to overcome barriers preventing them from exporting” via=”no” hashtags=”cloud”]

Whilst the government can assist with financial and market advice, a technology partner can help businesses overcome other barriers preventing them from exporting, through the use of technology solutions that simplify complexity and fight the fear. Your technology partners can advise what your business needs now and prepare you for the shape of your future business too.

Here are a few challenges that can be overcome with smarter technology.

How will my business communicate with employees and partners abroad?

Multi-language business management solutions allow you drive the necessary administration of a multi-site, multi-country business through language barriers. That way your shipping functions can communicate with finance who can invoice manufacturing… and so on. If the money and goods keep moving on time, your business services customers on time. This only happens when all parties understand each other.

How can my business manage international money movements?

the software can take the strain

Once again, the software can take the strain. The right business management solution can operate in multiple currencies to support the enterprise’s global customer base. If you choose a system with a product configurator tool you can greatly simplifies the design and pricing of product lines. Rather than manually changing figures and hitting the calculator keys, using the automation in smarter software can convert currency amounts in moments so you always understand the health of the business. If you will need to handle transfers and reporting from one country to another it’s useful to have a real-time (linked to the web) global vision while responding to local operational requirements.

A strong local connection in the form of a cloud vendor with an international reach can also prove helpful, aiding businesses new to the market to easily assimilate into the local work culture, language, and regulations for compliance.

How can I stay connected with my customers across time zones?

When working across multiple time zones, the need to be online around the clock can be challenging. This pain point is particularly palpable for businesses that are newly setting up overseas that may not have on-ground staff to field requests. This is where moving to the cloud can keep the business running full-time, without additional staff costs normally required to ensure local infrastructure is always running.

moving to the cloud can keep the business running full-time

How can a global workforce stay in synch?

Most businesses of a certain size will already be using mobility solutions based on the cloud, though many have yet to move from older enterprise resource planning solutions to more modern business management tools either based in the cloud or via ‘hybrid’ working solutions. With a cloud computing solution, hosted by a technology partner, company data can be secured behind state of the art security whilst becoming accessible to all employees and partners via any internet connected device, from tablet or smartphone to PC. That can make a huge difference in making faster deals and responding to new opportunities, connecting teams across the world with no lag.

In fact, given the benefits that can specifically benefit exporting, is begs the question: Is cloud a technology or a business solution decision?

[easy-tweet tweet=”Is cloud a technology or a business solution decision? What do you think? ” via=”no” usehashtags=”no”]

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David Rawling, Global Product Marketing Director for Sage X3, Sage David is the Global Product Marketing Director for Sage X3 at Sage. David has been with Sage since 2010, working his way through the Enterprise solution set as a business development manager, sales and channel manager and deputy head of Sales for the Sage Enterprise business segment. Enterprise growth and best management through technology are David’s twin goals, and he is currently assisting Sage teams around the world better deliver these through Sage’s flagship business management software, Sage X3. A graduate of the IFS School of Finance, David has worked to help customers better manage their accounting, finance and management at a number of technology vendors over his career.