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All Together Now

We are not alone. No, I'm not subscribing to the theory that aliens from outer space are walking among us; I'm referring to the increasing globalisation of business. A few years ago, not many organisations could legitimately claim to be global. But jeez, is that ever changing. If you have any doubts, look at the ongoing series on globalisation in The Australian Financial Review. In fact, look no further than this issue of CIO. In our cover story this month regular contributor Maggie Macrae speaks with National Australia Bank CIO Michael Coomer about the bank's new strategic global business plan. National appears well prepared technology-wise to "go global". In his exclusive interview with CIO, Coomer says for the last three years the bank has been on the path towards a global technology program. But for many CIOs globalisation plans, along with technology hazards in emerging markets, will bring on a global headache. Global expansion requires a whole lot of support, much of it provided by the IS group.

That can be a tall order in developing markets such as Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe and China. CIOs -- both those doing business overseas and those in developing countries -- have to be resourceful to work around unreliable communications service, spotty support from software vendors and more expensive hardware. And each emerging market has its own unique challenges. For instance, IS executives in countries where political and economic situations are stabilising must learn to support tremendous growth -- a foreign notion for their staffs if not themselves.

Technology in general, and the Internet specifically, have spurred globalisation. The virtual business world is a reality, not some "pie-in-the sky" notion. But a global operation must be organised and controlled -- at all levels -- if it is to succeed. CIOs in companies with a global imperative must make sure their boards and senior executives know that this message also applies to IT. Because while technology may be driving globalisation, it is also key to any globalisation strategy. If IT isn't organised and controlled it will be the undoing of many a globalisation effort.

Want to receive CIO's new "executive review" weekly e-mail service? If you're interested, or would like more information, apply via e-mail to Andrew_Birmingham@idg.com.au or fax on (02) 9439 5512. Please include in the e-mail your: Full name, Company, Job title and Phone number.

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