Stefan Steinle
Jul 4 · 5 min read

The one-size-fits-all approach of standardized products does not fly in global contexts, and it’s really important to adapt products to local markets to tap the competitive advantages of increased market share and revenue, ease of business, workforce efficiency, and much more.

Typically, the globalization unit of a company is considered as its localization and regulatory compliance arm — merely dispensing products that will make their offerings shelf-ready in the countries of their operations. It is a necessary function in multinational companies and usually is viewed exactly like that — a “necessary function” — nothing more.

This function revolves around adapting very successful products to local, emerging markets. In essence, it focuses on compliance or adoption — maybe you have a global marketing campaign that needs to be made culturally acceptable in China, or redesigning of promotional material to accommodate right-to-left (RTL) scripts, or adapting cars for local usage, or the removal of food items from restaurant offerings in the countries where they are banned.

But is this enough? Can we take globalization offerings to the next level that addresses customer experience?

No, it is not enough. And yes, we must take globalization offerings to the next level or risk losing opportunities worth billions of dollars. Some companies have taken the lead in viewing globalization as a function beyond compliance and local adoption. I have had the opportunity to visit India over recent years and have witnessed some innovative thinking, driven by the experience economy — along the lines of creating new products and experiences based on local needs, preferences, and culture.

Uber Taps the Ubiquitous Autorickshaw

Better known as auto, this three-wheeled motorized rickshaw (also known as tuk-tuk) is a very common mode of transport in India. You can see it in abundance on most roads except on highways. It is, therefore, not surprising that the transport major Uber decided to include autorickshaws in their network.

Why do people need cars if autorickshaws are so widely available? I would start by listing the disadvantages of the autorickshaw: bumpy ride, no air conditioning, not fast, and most notably — argumentative drivers who usually charge more than the metered fare.

Except for the last on this list, none of the reasons matter if the requirement is for short distances, which is the ideal use case for hailing this vehicle.

When Uber included the autorickshaw in their network, they took care of the last and most important disadvantage — argumentative and dishonest drivers.

With an automated, app-based meter in place, and with adequate driver incentives the Uber Auto has made autorickshaws popular again! This is a win-win, as the drivers get more business than the traditional means of getting hailed by customers and the passengers are spared unnecessary arguments over fares or tampered meters.

In addition to this, Uber also harnesses the many advantages of the autorickshaw: it is light-weight, great for short distances, reasonably priced, easily available, maneuverable in heavy traffic and small alley ways.

Productized as Uber Auto, this service is available at almost half the price of a four-wheeled Uber cab. The autos are here to stay!

Ikea Says ‘I Care’

Ikea launched its first store in Hyderabad, India in August 2018. Along with this launch, they also launched a fleet of autorickshaws to support their operations. With a passion for embedding sustainable initiatives in services, Ikea has set up solar-powered autorickshaws for delivering their small and medium-sized products to customers across the city. During the launch, autos were also used to give free 3-km rides to people so that they could enjoy a VR tour of the new store. Painted in bright colors, the autos look festive and inviting. By embracing the local culture, Ikea’s initiatives have definitely made a mark in the local market. Ikea is now a recommended stop for all tourists who visit Hyderabad!

Multinationals Modify Their Menus

It is clear that most innovation, in the field of globalization, has come from multinational fast food chains. The obvious requirements of complying with local laws covering banned food items and substances continue to be relevant.

Teenagers hooked on Hollywood do not need to be sold on the concept of western food like burgers, fries, or pizza. However, the challenge lies in selling the ‘taste’. Within a short time of landing on Indian shores, multinationals like McDonald’s, KFC, or Domino’s realized that a huge market lies in selling western food with eastern flavors! After months of research and customer adoption, the multinational food companies in India have plated the following treats made from locally sourced ingredients: chicken masala pizzas, vegetarian rice bowls, and the Maharaja chicken burger!

Netflix Goes Multilingual in India

In the digital world, Netflix has reimagined the way we consume entertainment. One of the main focuses of this company has been to grow its local markets in tandem with expanding the core English-speaking markets. As a result, you have an active array of multilingual offerings spanning 20+ languages, across 190 countries. Netflix India plans to release local content in multiple languages. How many cable TV companies can compete with this level of localization!

GST — From Compliance to Customer Delight

When GST became a mandate in India, it was undoubtedly an enormous challenge for companies to adapt their businesses to this legal change. The complexity of this tax reform was so monumental in scope that software vendors struggled to help their customers stay compliant — and they had no local precedent.

SAP conducted multiple workshops with customers, partners, and industry experts and concluded that a cloud-based solution would not only ensure compliance but also bring significant business benefits such as optimization in the supply chain. From these workshops it was clear that customers need much more than just filing of tax returns.

They need a comprehensive, backend-agnostic solution that spans compliance with Indian legal requirements, usability, ease of deployment, security, and zero disruption to their existing business. SAP’s Digital Compliance Service (DCS) for India did exactly that — it addressed the customers’ need for a solution beyond compliance!

DCS is built on SAP Cloud Platform so that features and updates are delivered in a non-disruptive manner. It should be noted that in addition to functional features, SAP also delivered technical innovations such as enabling of customers to extend applications and data models, application-level failover, and multiple layers of the security client certificate. With a customer list that includes the who’s who of Indian businesses and multiple global customers, this GST solution is a great example of “Made in India, for India”!

In all these innovations, one thing stands out: breaking through tough markets to foster local adoption, in a cost-effective way by tapping on cultural nuances. Multinational companies say Namaste India with local solutions — for global success!

SAP Innovation Spotlight

Brand journalists cover tech and IT trends like Digital Transformation, Future of Work, Purpose, Customer Experience, and more. VISIT OUR ARCHIVES HERE:

Stefan Steinle

Written by

Head of SAP Globalization Services, responsible for the global reach of SAP’s products — ensuring our customers can extend and grow their business globally

SAP Innovation Spotlight

Brand journalists cover tech and IT trends like Digital Transformation, Future of Work, Purpose, Customer Experience, and more. VISIT OUR ARCHIVES HERE:

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