I love reading good old fashioned page turners. I also love reading new thinking, challenging new theories and even more challenging new realities. It was with some surprise then that I stumbled across “Globaloney” in a recent HBR article by Pankaj Ghemawat. In the article, he discusses a thought from the 1940’s that actually still resonates today. So, it’s kind of new-old thinking then I guess.

Are we truly a global economy? By way of an answer here are a few (USA orientated) facts from Pankaj’s talk:

  • Percentage of all international voice calls 2% (as much as 7% with internet telephony).
  • The number of first-generation immigrants? 3%
  • How much direct investment was foreign? Not quite 10%
  • Exports as percent of GDP? According to official statistics around the world, average just over 30%. “But,” says Pankaj, “there’s a big problem with the official statistics. If a Japanese component supplier ships something to China to be slotted into an iPod and then it’s shipped to the U.S., it counts multiple times.” It helps to have friends in high places. Ghemawat asked his friend Pascal Lamy, director of the World Trade Organization, to estimate this figure excluding the double-counting and triple-counting. Lamy guessed the figure would be under 20%.

It’s interesting to note, for example, that Scotland's exports to rUK are 4 times those to the whole of Europe. The whole Globalisation myth - is exactly that - a myth.

Let’s think a little deeper, though. The meaning behind all of this is that we are infinitely more likely to trade and interact locally than globally on the Internet. You don’t really operate in a global economy then. Indeed, much, if not all, of your competition is local. There is a broader interpretation of this. Often the assumptions that surround perceived challenges can be skewed by external factors. The reality is that customer desires, points of contact and, indeed, what they want are likely not what you may think.

The relevance to your digital transformation then comes from helping you in really understanding what the outcomes you are aiming for mean to you and your organisation. If you are a truly global player then it means one thing, but if you operate 100% in your local area then it means another. You may assume that your customers want all the bells and whistles, when in actual fact they may just want a nice, painless interaction with you following received internet protocols, with no fuss and no fluff.

We recently completed two digital strategy projects for creative organisations embedded in their respective communities. One was very local (Customer 1) and one was very national, if not international (Customer 2). Whilst the challenges they faced were similar, the solutions they needed were very, very different. The former just needed to deliver excellent customer experiences but not be setting the heather on fire. The latter needed to really push out the creative boat and engage at a higher, more cutting-edge level, whilst appealing to multiple communities locally, nationally and internationally.

It really is all about understanding what each organisation's users needed.

  • Do they to just need to be good - because that’s OK if that meets their customer's needs and expectations. 
  • Do they need to be great - because they need to demonstrate some form of Digital Leadership.
  • Do they need to be the best because they have to compete against very digitally-enabled competitors?
  • Do they need to operate right at the cutting edge of technology because that is their brand positioning and so that is what their customers demand? 

So, don’t just jump on the Band Wagon of recommendation by rote

Take time to analyse, to understand, to benchmark and to really get to the bottom of what your users need. Then, and only then, should you be trying to define what kind of digital transformation (or ideally digital evolution) is needed. Otherwise, you might fall into the Globaloney trap and spend precious time and resource on becoming something your customers don’t really need or indeed want.

If you are looking for a partner in digital transformation that not only knows about what a successful digital transformation programme is, but also, how to ensure it’s the right type of transformation for you, then why not give us a shout? One of our consulting team would be happy to meet or chat on the phone and explain in more depth how we do, what we do. Contact details are listed below.


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