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Grant Ingram: EU can’t do it alone – Connectivity and the rise of small multinationals

Written by Grant Ingram, CEO of M9

In an era dominated by uncertainty, the modern workplace has changed beyond recognition. Companies across the globe are now rejecting the notion that they have to be tied to any one office, country, or continent in order to be successful.

However, in the UK, the impact of Brexit is pushing these issues into the spotlight more than ever before. In fact, reports from the BBC suggest that firms are being encouraged by the government to set up European operations in order to avoid incurring costs under new trade rules. Faced with the potential of needing to expand overseas, this is expected to lead to an explosion in the number of smaller multinational businesses. 

While Brexit has lit the touchpaper for this movement, the trend towards international SMEs has been growing for a number of years. A combination of globalisation and technology means that companies can now create international operations from day one. However, doing so is still no mean feat, with plenty of factors to take into consideration. 

For instance, supplier relationships, recruitment, infrastructure, and compliance are all obstacles companies need to overcome to establish themselves in a foreign market. In addition to this, there is one uniting component that the entire success of an international operation hinges on – connectivity. Without network capabilities that can respond to the demands of the hyper-distributed age, all other preparations won’t be enough.

Connectivity and the need for security

Connectivity is vitally important for businesses looking to expand abroad. Coordinating teams across different time zones, languages, cultures, and devices is impossible without being able to share information seamlessly. While companies navigate the minefield of building foreign operations, the last thing they should have to worry about is limited network capabilities. Robustness, reliability, and flexibility are key, especially as firms continue to move into the cloud, and employees need seamless, secure access to cloud applications – from anywhere.

Then there is the question of security. It’s no secret that cybercrime is rising sharply. In fact, U.K. businesses recorded a 31% growth in cybercrime last year, losing £6.2 million to various scams. Unfortunately, this is only likely to continue as companies become more sparsely distributed, and cybercriminals become more sophisticated. Therefore, it’s crucial that organisations ensure security is a built-in feature of any networking product they use. In particular, this should be a prime concern for SMEs, as they may not have the resources to create the same complex cybersecurity postures as multinationals.

There have been many developments in the enterprise networking space that allow for this. For instance, technologies such as SASE bring network and security solutions together into a unified, cloud-native application. This creates a far more agile service that reduces complexity and creates globally distributed networks that can securely connect with all devices. 

However, according to Ian McEwan, VP of EMEA at Aryaka, while these advances are a game-changer, they are still not available from many well-known players in the market. Ian comments:

“Businesses have long-looked for a solution that takes network connectivity out of their hands, with Brexit only exacerbating this need. However, many traditional telecommunications providers no longer offer the flexibility and agility that aligns with these needs. For enterprising companies that are doing their utmost to thrive in the current circumstances, a holistic managed Wide Area Network (WAN) product is far more likely to achieve their goals. Cloud-first, secure networking solutions that can cater to shifting market demands are going to be imperative in the post-Brexit, post-COVID world.”

Looking forward: the future is global

Ultimately, small multi-national businesses are set to become commonplace in the years ahead. To remain competitive, firms must ensure they have network capabilities that can hold up in this marketplace. To achieve this, choosing the right partner is essential. Finding a provider that understands the challenges of global expansion and the regional nuances in various locations will make a world of difference to those moving overseas. Network flexibility, speed, and security are the heart of any modern enterprise, and the most successful companies will be those that act now to future-proof their business.