Technology makes the world seem smaller and more connected, but it also creates challenges for organizations operating globally. Supply chain and logistics challenges, diverse regulations, tax issues, import/export rules, even language and cultural differences make it difficult to procure, track, manage and support IT assets worldwide.
Product availability is the first hurdle. There is a wide range of distributors in the U.S., each with different services and strengths, making it easy to establish a supply chain. However, the options are far more limited in other parts of the world. Many manufacturers have a global presence but do not offer a full suite of services in all regions. OEMs will register in every country in order to sell and ship products, then slowly evolve their service offerings.
Product selection is a closely related challenge. Organizations may standardize on a particular set of desktops and laptops, but country-specific options have to be considered. Power is one example — there are different types of plugs in different countries. You also have to consider the various keyboards that users need.
The Need for a Global Approach
Given this level of complexity, it’s not surprising that global organizations tend to procure and manage assets at the country or region level. They have a team of procurement specialists and separate asset tracking systems that are designed for the specifics of a given country. They also tend to have warehouse space and integration center staff allocated in every country to handle the ins and outs of device configuration and deployment.
It works, but it creates a lot of headaches. It’s also impossible to maintain consistency and get a global view of assets across their lifecycle.
KST is rapidly expanding globally to fill this gap. We are taking our proven asset lifecycle management program for workplace services and replicating it worldwide. While we operate within many countries, we have found that focusing on a hub-and-spoke model that can enable tremendous efficiency and operational control helps to dramatically simplify how things are done.
The first step was to implement our program in Canada, which doesn’t operate very differently from the U.S. other than specific tax and reporting requirements. Next, we established an entities in the EU to handle our integration services in the European Union. We analyzed tax and regulatory reporting, logistics and supply chain requirements. Based on our findings, we developed a program that enables us to leverage our hub-and-spoke model to support all of the different countries across the E.U.
What does this mean for our customers? It enables them to eliminate country specific warehouse and integration center spaces, and the headcount needed to manage that work across the EU countries. They can reduce costs significantly and operate consistently whether they’re in the Czech Republic, Germany or France. Of course to meet all of the VAT/Tax rules, we must manage the assets at a country level, leveraging our systems to enable proper registers to track all assets by serial numbers at all times.
The Hub-and-Spoke Model
Instead of setting up shop in every country and then building out a unique services suite in each country, we are replicating the operational capabilities that have driven tremendous business value for our clients in the U.S. Our asset lifecycle service model becomes the core because that’s how we properly manage the devices. We then overlay the nonoperational variables around the import/export, tax/vat and local regulations that need to be addressed in different parts of the world. Each part of the world has its own challenges that need to be assessed and the right solution deployed, however it is critical that all solutions are secure, that they address any import/export related topics, meet all of the local tax and regulatory requirements, they are cost effective and of course, efficient to drive out cost.
As you establish the solution to support specific needs across the globe, logistics is a major factor. We pre-stage the technology on the front end of our lifecycle model to help ensure that the supply chain doesn’t get in the way. You tackle that differently in various parts of the world. We’ve become experts in how to build this hub-and-spoke approach to managing assets across a global environment. As we work within the local requirements and customer specific needs, we have constructed a flexible model that allows us to track and manage our clients’ complex asset portfolios, serving their varied services requirements on a global basis.