Building a company that can compete globally is the top challenge facing U.S. corporations—and IT must play a key role in meeting it head-on, said politicians and technology executives at Forrester Research Inc.s annual Executive Strategy Forum here last week.
Massachusetts Gov. and potential presidential candidate Mitt Romney said he welcomed globalization but told the gathering of several hundred IT leaders that his state and the nation must rise to the challenge.
"Its wonderful that Asia is rising to become a great economic power. ... They dont just want to make toys, they want to make MRI machines and jumbo jets," Romney said.
Ginni Rometty, senior vice president of enterprise business services for IBM Global Services, in Armonk, N.Y., told the audience, "Globalization will have a far greater impact on us than the Internet has had." She said companies must go beyond seeking low-wage locations around the world and find the best place for work to be done—wherever that may be—seeking innovation, not merely cost savings.
George Colony, CEO of Forrester, which is based in Cambridge, Mass., echoed the need for innovation. "Technology has accelerated globalization. With jobs moving offshore, we will have to innovate," Colony said. He said companies should build global innovation networks. For this, a flexible technology architecture, worldwide in scope and standards-based, will be essential, he said.
Rometty said companies should seek to innovate in product design, business processes and business models and should build supply chain systems "that have visibility to labor any place in the world."
Chemical company DuPont is finding success in its globalization efforts by achieving 40 to 50 percent annual growth in some lesser-developed countries, said Ellen Kullman, group vice president for safety and protection. "In order to compete, we had to globalize; we had no choice," said Kullman, who is based in Wilmington, Del.
Failure to succeed globally could mean the United States taking a back seat to rising powers China and India in years ahead, Romney warned. "There is no reason [either] cant emerge as the superpower. The only way we can preserve that role for ourselves is through innovation."
In response to the looming crisis, Romney said the United States must close the educational achievement gap among racial groups in the United States. "The education gap is the civil rights issue of our age," he said. Merit pay for teachers can help close the gap, Romney said.