Global Expansion Strategies: An Integrators’ Guide to World Domination

Integrators are finding unique opportunities by following their customers beyond North America and around the world. There are challenges, but the allure is captivating.

Yorktel acquired U.K.-based First Connections in 2011 and built up its European presence through those partnerships. The company also has partners in Asia Pacific, but hasn’t made any acquisitions in that region yet. When it comes to acquisitions, Yorktel focuses on the systems, process and people.

“The reason we became as global as we are has a lot to do with where we’re headquartered,” says Gaboury. “We found a like-minded organization [in First Connections]. In APAC, we’re looking for someone who’s entrenched in the culture who came from the U.S. and built a business there.”

Yorktel “could also be more formidable” in Canada, Singapore, Hong Kong and could someday expand beyond partnerships in South America, says Gaboury. “We’re part of the world conversation, dealing with some of the world’s largest companies and customers from Eatontown, N.J.,” he says.

Integrators Form Common Bond

The Global Presence Alliance, a consortium of integrators around the world that launched in 2008, has formalized the idea of companies establishing a worldwide operation by bringing together representatives in 40 countries and covering 180 cities. The companies range in size from about 30 employees to 5,000, and the GPA generally has one member country in each region. The GPA launched an accredited vendor program earlier this year.

GPA members agree when they join the alliance that 80 percent of the business they secure stays within the country in which they’re based. That eliminates the possibility of a GPA member poaching business from fellow members in other countries or trying to grow its own business through the alliance, but being part of the GPA allows members to tell customers they have a presence around the world.

Global Presence Alliance
at a Glance

The list of integration member partners in the Alliance includes:
Africa: Meet.inc
Argentina: ICAP
Australia: ProAV Solutions
Benelux: VisionsConnected
Brazil: Absolut Technologies
Canada: Sharp’s Audio Visual
China: Beijing Hitevision
Czech Republic: AV MEDIA
France: Videlio
Germany: Global Media Services
Hong Kong: i-Control
India: Godrej
Italy: Ayno
Mexico: Grupo Niza (gruponiza.com) & Multimedia
New Zealand: Asnet Technologies
Russia: CROC
Scandinavia: Atea
Singapore, Phillipines, Indonesia, Korea: Esco
Switzerland: Kilchenmann
Turkey: Avitec
United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan and Iraq: Omnix
United Kingdom: Feltech
United States: Whitlock

“We’ve built and evolved and grown our business on the back of the knowledge we’ve gained through the GPA,” says Byron Tarry, director of enterprise solutions at Sharp’s AV in Canada and president of the GPA for the past two years.

“As the market is maturing, as we’re maturing, as our customers are maturing, the concept of standardization and working with a single partner becomes more important. The ongoing life-cycle management with a customer requires a local relationship,” says Tarry. “We don’t want our members to be empty stakeholders.”

Sharp’s does millions of dollars in work as a direct result of its GPA membership, says Tarry. It’s also helped the company consolidate opportunities and provide a more mature service offering.

Having representation around the world helps GPA members deal with some of the obstacles that may face single integrators who open offices in different countries or work with partners in different regions, says Tarry. “The idea of a huddle room or collaboration space is a little different in China, for example,” he says. “You need to have that context and perspective.”

Julian Phillips, executive VP at Whitlock and board director for the GPA, says the original idea for the GPA was to serve a small number of customers in the U.S. and U.K. who were looking to expand their global presence.

“Most customers are already going global with their information services,” says Phillips. “We realized, if we didn’t have a way to serve global customers, someone else would, probably someone in IT. The GPA was born out of customer demand and necessity. If we wanted to truly deliver on a global basis, we had to build a truly global network.”

The GPA was modeled on the Star Alliance in the airline industry, which brings the companies together as equal partners in the initiative and allows them to maintain their individual branding with the incentive of a global solution. That setup differentiates them from membership standing in groups such as USAV and PSNI.