One way in which channel companies could weather the economic storms bearing
down upon the UK and elsewhere may be to look at diversifying their business
proposition into international markets.
According to UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) organisation’s ICT sector adviser, Was Rahman, opportunities are increasing all over the world for UK-based solution providers, service providers, system integrators and software developers.
“Years ago, you would look at a particular market and work out what
technologies were wanted,” he said. “But it is now about finding the right
pieces to create the right solutions.”
Export possibilities in IT and other sectors are increasingly about becoming part of a global supply chain, supplying part of a solution or service.
This is an area, according to Rahman, where UK IT companies can truly excel.
“It started off with outsourcing, where you take a particular business process and move it somewhere else,” he said. “Then you take it to another country and if you take that to its logical conclusion, you ask where the best people are in the world for a particular part of a solution?”
Follow the skills
Firms that want to create the best products, solutions and services while maximising innovation are going to go where the talent is, said Rahman.
Studies have suggested that UK companies excel at research and development, high-level skills innovation and creativity.
IT providers that play to those strengths will find themselves in demand overseas, said Rahman. “Some are creating boxes, some are excelling at installations. If it comes together, you have a global value chain,” he said.
IT is a core sector for UKTI, and the organisation is working with firms to
help them identify opportunities in international markets. One tool that UKTI
provides is TechnologyWorld08, in November.
Events such as TechnologyWorld offer a low-cost way for UK firms to meet potential international customers, said Rahman.
“UKTI helps open doors to international players, which in today’s economic
climate is needed more than ever,” he said.
It is often about networking. The key is to make your strengths known globally and build up networks of contacts here and abroad.
IT market growth continues
According to IT trade association Intellect, the IT market is still growing. Figures released in September suggest that, despite the economic gloom, spending on IT in the UK alone is expected to grow 1.4 per cent this financial year to £59.3bn.
Software and IT services sectors are tipped as hitting £9.1bn and £36.6bn,
with growth rates of 4.4 per cent and five per cent respectively.
Carrie Hartnell, transformational business programme manager at Intellect, said: “What we are seeing in the UK is matched by trends in other markets across the world. In 1992, firms were looking to cut IT budgets in the face of an economic downturn, but now we are seeing a shift in attitude towards IT, indicated by the growth in the software and IT services sector.”
Instead of making across-the-board cuts, companies globally are harnessing IT to increase efficiencies, said Hartnell.
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