Technology has served as a core business enabler for decades, facilitating international communication and the transfer of information. But recent advances in tech, including artificial intelligence, have made it easier for businesses to go global. And it's not just large enterprises or medium-sized companies on the verge of expansion.
Small businesses and entrepreneurs are finding ways to reach new markets and collaborate with others from countries they haven't visited. With communication platforms, cloud sharing, analytics, and software as a service solutions, establishing a worldwide presence is now a streamlined process. It doesn't always involve having physical locations in different countries, either. Here are four ways new tech is making international operations simpler than ever.
1. Hiring Worldwide Talent
The complexities of international labor laws can sometimes stop businesses from hiring outside their local areas. However, companies are starting to rethink their hiring strategies as more work becomes remote. It doesn't make as much sense to limit potential candidates to those who live in certain areas.
At the same time, labor laws in most countries require businesses to establish a local, legal entity to hire employees. Fortunately, new services and technology now allow companies to work around that requirement and still recruit staff of the highest caliber. By partnering with an employer of record (EOR) or professional employer organization (PEO), businesses can expand into other countries easily and quickly. But what's the difference?
A PEO handles HR tasks like payroll and benefits administration, while an employer of record employs local workers on behalf of another business. EORs provide the same HR functions as PEOs - they just add an extra layer of compliance into the mix. Companies that own local entities can use a PEO, while those without entities need an EOR to employ international employees legally.
2. Marketing to Customers
Social media makes it possible for any business to reach global customers through digital marketing. A small business or one-person operation doesn't have to enlist the help of an advertising firm or spend a lot. They can create pages and posts on different social media platforms using built-in tools to promote products and services.
Tools and functions like live and recorded video help businesses engage with an international audience and promote interest. Companies can also use messaging and live chat features to answer questions and capture data through polls. Digital advertising functions within some social media platforms allow businesses to target ads by locations, behaviors, and interests. If a company wants to test messaging and engagement in a particular country, it only takes a few minutes.
Rather than waiting for someone else to produce a report, business owners have instant access to analytics. They can see who's visiting their social media pages, how they're engaging with content, and whether digital ads are working. Social media platforms give companies the advantage of reaching anyone with an account and an internet connection. Content on these platforms can also get reshared and tagged, extending the company's reach without any effort.
3. Collecting Payments and Sending Money
With the ability to buy and sell products online, digital wallets and mobile payment services are also being used more widely. Current estimates project the worldwide digital payments market will reach a value of $6.7 trillion by 2023. By then, the number of people using digital payment solutions is also projected to rise to 6.1 billion.
The convenience and ease of use of digital payment solutions may be responsible for their rise in popularity. Invoices and payments can be sent with no more than an email address. Exchanging sensitive bank information is not necessary, and it doesn't take days or weeks to send or receive money. Many digital wallets also let users receive funds in various currencies and instantly convert money to their native one.
While it's common for digital payment services to charge senders or receivers fees, these tend to be reasonable. In some cases, the fees are less than banks and other financial companies charge for wire transfers. Businesses now have a simple and secure way to accept payments from all over the world. They can enable a digital wallet service's API on websites and online stores. Companies can also instantly pay independent contractors and suppliers, regardless of location.
4. Collaborating Across Time Zones
The McKinsey Global Institute reports that 72% of organizations are using social technologies. While companies can leverage social tech to enhance customer reach, there's more potential in using that technology for internal collaboration. This includes knowledge sharing, working on projects in real time, and overall communication.
Software solutions that combine project management, document sharing and collaboration, and communication can facilitate remote work across time zones. These platforms reduce the need for business owners and executives to travel to global locations. Annual meetings, check-ins, and some team-building exercises can all be done online.
Employees with responsibilities that fall within the same project can communicate, hand off tasks, and work on documents together. It doesn't matter if someone works from Australia and the other person's office is in Toronto. As long as they agree on a suitable time to virtually meet and collaborate, tasks will get done. Videoconferencing and instant messaging features also give employees in different locations a chance to experience each other's personalities.
The evolution of online solutions and tech has made it possible for business connections to form all over the world. While new developments are riding the internet's coattails, their capabilities are opening doors for companies of all sizes. Small businesses are finding it easier to compete in international markets. From hiring talent overseas and digital marketing and payments to collaboration, new technologies can give any company a global reach.