The International Stampede

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The International Stampede

Domestic computer companies and systems integrators are increasingly cashing in on the growing global appetite for high-tech wares and solutions.

International Data Corp., Hackensack, N.J., estimates that the worldwide market for government spending on information technology is $72 billion. Of that, $31 billion is spent outside the United States.

Although many U.S. company officials have been tempted to box their government-born technology and ship it overseas, in practice it just doesn't work that way.

Industry leaders such as Oracle Corp., Redwood Shores, Calif.; BDM International, McLean, Va.; Computer Sciences Corp., El Segundo, Calif.; and IBM, Armonk, N.Y. - all of whom do substantial international business - are thus turning to replication rather than duplication.

A senior IBM official defines a successful replication as one where 60 percent to 70 percent of the solution can be reused from one project to the next.

As U.S. companies rush to reuse their expertise and experience, their business practices are likewise evolving. High-tech firms are making key structural changes in their business units, intranets are emerging as a vital repository for ideas and employees are being shifted overseas to move solutions from one government to another.

Perhaps most important to companies in the hunt for global government business is the ability to leverage knowledge from one project. With the cost of technology dropping, the new premium that systems integrators bring to a project is helping the customer adapt that technology to solve a problem.

Cultural differences and biases in favor of home-grown solutions, while decreasing, are still issues to be considered. Companies hoping to grow internationally have to mix a local perspective with their global ambitions.


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