For many companies, future growth requires adopting a singular, global view of nearly every aspect of the business: the workforce, supply chain, operations, and sales. That means a global approach to business technology, whether it's supporting a network infrastructure spanning dozens of countries or coaching development teams from Brussels to Bangalore. Here's how five U.S. companiesc, Johnson Controls, Manpower, Bank Of New York, GrafTech and EDS are meeting the challenge.
Gen. George Patton made the point that even a great strategist can't win a war unless he keeps his lines of communication clear. Whether you're fanning out an army across Europe or expanding a business around the world, Patton's insight holds true.
One of the most persistent technological challenges of global business is getting communications networks to expand in lockstep with business. Cost and complexity increase as a company's network spreads across the world, while employees increasingly rely on that network as their lifeline to the business.
With some 500 locations in more than 30 countries, Johnson Controls Inc. knows the challenge well, having increased its Internet bandwidth 50% in the last year. "I've been here 3-1/2 years, and the expansion has been very aggressive," says Mark Schoeppel, VP of global IT Infrastructure for the automotive-industry supplier.
Johnson Controls isn't a risk taker when it comes to business technology. "I wouldn't say we're a bleeding-edge company," Schoeppel says. The company was born about 120 years ago, when Warren Johnson, a professor at the State Normal School in Whitewater, Wis., invented the electric room thermostat. His business, called Johnson Electric Service Co., became a leader in temperature control. The company diversified over the years, changed its name to Johnson Controls, and expanded into automotive components in the 1980s, becoming the world's largest manufacturer of car seats. It's now a worldwide leader in both automotive systems and environmental controls, with revenue topping $22.6 billion last year. Johnson Controls has 118,000 employees worldwide and factories on five continents.