By Chris Martin, Atlas Marketing

Businesses today rely on a multitude of technologies, from email productivity tools like Slack to websites and cloud-based apps such as Salesforce or HubSpot to advance their mission. Most of this reliance centers on teams residing in multiple areas that follow the buzzwords of the day: productivity and efficiency. But how efficient are these technologies when the arena shifts from regional or national turf to a global platform? More importantly, how does communication tie in with these technologies to overcome geography and language barriers?

Recently, we embarked on a global digital discovery project that will ultimately lead to a variety of digital resources for a worldwide audience. Not only is this project an IT one, but it quickly became a communications assignment as well. Below, I share how a convergence of tech and communications has led to success to date, along with some key takeaways from a project of this magnitude.

Know how your team works

With varying knowledge levels come unique perspectives, but managing those perspectives based on language and cultural influences can present a challenge. Overcoming language barriers begins with engaged listening, but I found cultural problems more difficult. For example, Japanese business leaders prefer the use of app-based communications tools, while U.S. colleagues prefer email. Incorporating these nuances into team parameters and expectations has taken some getting used to.

Understand regulations and cultural differences

When working on an international project, understanding and incorporating a global perspective will lead to success. Admittedly, this is not a strong skill Americans possess, but finding answers to several questions will eliminate anxiety in the long run. Understanding GDPR certainly helps, but what other current or future regulations will impact the project? Will social media restrictions impede knowledge sharing? Will our copyright or trademark be enforceable in certain countries? How does a European holiday affect the project deadline?

Most of these questions have a quick solution; the last one, however, caused severe delays. The point is, understanding and acknowledging the impact of these issues and including the right team members leads to success.

How to globally collaborate

English is the accepted language of business, but various countries communicate and work quite differently from each other. I mentioned the Japanese app-based approach, and direct messaging has many advantages, but the most significant setback is the lack of a digital thread. With the state of international diplomacy, collaboration, open dialog and knowledge sharing continue throughout the world, but business leaders based in countries such as China or Russia are finding it more difficult. These are legitimate concerns beyond the scope of a digital or marketing effort, but if not considered will present serious implications.

As we continue to move this project forward, I find technology and communication converge regularly. Furthermore, you cannot expect the convergence to slow as more and more business becomes global in scope. Understanding communication needs and connecting them with proper technology options ensures success.

As founder and president of Atlas Marketing, CHRIS MARTIN oversees the variety of campaigns that the company delivers. Throughout his twenty-three-year career, he has told stories for American icons and national heroes and directed campaigns for a variety of national and international corporations. Visit AtlasStories.com for more information about the firm and learn how they tell stories for companies that build things.