Product Innovation Trends

Navigating Opportunities and Obstacles Created by Global Distribution

Jessica Davis | January 8, 2014

Note: The following is an excerpt from our Forrester Consulting commissioned report, The State of Modern Product Delivery. Read the full report for key insights on the current trends and challenges in product delivery.

Advances in communication technology has led to a “flattening” of the world leading to products and product teams with global scope (see figure below). Collaboration challenges, significant at a single site, are exponentially amplified with each additional location and time zone. When colleagues are half a world away, even finding a common time for video- or teleconferences is a barrier to effective collaboration. Cultural differences amplify the challenges. Collaboration support technology is an important means of bridging location and time zone gaps.

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  • Adapting products for other markets requires local knowledge. Local teams provide essential knowledge of local markets. Even when the product is identical across markets, local customs will drive sales and marketing efforts. To reach fast-growing global markets requires an extended global team.
  • Without effective coordination, distributing teams adds cost and complexity. Many organizations have distributed teams to take advantage of cost differentials, skill availability, or proximity to local markets. But these advantages quickly evaporate when distributed teams cannot effectively collaborate.
  • Communication with distant teams must be asynchronous. When many time zones separate teams, synchronous face-to-face or virtual meetings are limited to shrinking availability windows. To overcome this, effective communication must include asynchronous interactions.

Read the full Forrester Consulting report on The State of Modern Product Delivery complete with key recommendations.