UK is 2014’s Partner Country at CeBIT
CeBIT in Hannover is the world’s largest ICT trade show and is a showcase for the German ICT industry. Each year a partner country is chosen to showcase the partner country’s ICT industry and to promote international trade. In 2014 the UK is the partner. Having the UK as partner country is an appropriate choice this year as 2014 is the 300th anniversary of the accession of George I, Elector of Hannover, to the British throne.
Historical exhibitions, cultural and sporting exchanges and grand celebrations will all mark the UK’s year as partner country, but is this all the UK has to offer? A few statistics reinforce the fact that there is more to the UK than history. We have an annual software and services market of £58bn which has grown steadily despite the economic crisis of recent years, a vibrant tech start up scene (15,000 new tech businesses started in London’s Silicon Roundabout area last year) and is the destination of choice for emerging global vendors entering Europe.
So is the UK the right market for you to consider for international expansion and how do you enter it?
The UK market is large, open and diverse. This leads to a competitive business environment where the ability to generate new business value is welcomed in virtually all vertical markets. I’ve talked about the need to clearly articulate the business value your solution can bring in a previous blog.
So, what are the technologies that British businesses are buying? These can be grouped into five areas:
- Business Management Software
- Business Analytics
- Social Media
- Cloud Computing
These are a very close match to the trends that this year’s CeBIT key trends of Big Data, Mobile, Social Business, Cloud Computing. If you are a supplier of solutions in one of these areas, the chances are high that doing something in your field will be on UK businesses ‘to do’ list over the next 18 months.
Now for the second half of my question, how do you enter the UK market? Your value proposition needs to be clearly articulated and then you need to create your value chain. Unless you have a very large budget available to you, this is going to involve some form of partnering. The right partners will bring you competitive advantage – but how do you achieve this? Articulating your value proposition and understanding which elements of the value chain each partner will provide are critical preparatory steps. These are necessary pre-requisites but there is one more activity that is required: understanding your potential partner’s business model. Or put more simply: how will they make money out of a relationship with you? A frequent trap is to forget that your partners are independent businesses that will pursue activities that are profitable to them. Make sure your value proposition works for your partners as well as your customers.
A common mistake I have seen with companies coming to the UK is to assume that once a partnership deal is signed, you have at your disposal a highly motivated outsourced sales force. You have not. Partners need to be pro-actively managed and in the early days of the partnership, over managed to ensure you achieve the mind share that you need from their sales force. Be prepared to sell with before you reach the position of being able to sell through. Your partner’s sales force will have their target. You will need to provide compelling reasons why your product will help them to reach it.
Do you want to expand to the UK? If you do, a large, open and growing market awaits you.
TBK Consult help software companies grow by internationalizing. TBK Consult’s UK based consultants have extensive experience of helping software businesses expand into the UK.