Occasionally, there are global business success stories that result from intuition, a sixth sense for good opportunities, luck, or any combination of these factors. However, most successes result from a brilliant strategy based on accurate information that is interpreted and applied flawlessly to a new market.

International companies operate in an environment shaped by cultural, political, legal, economic, trade, monetary, governmental, and institutional forces. These forces are constantly evolving and shaping the environment for international business. As a result, what is relevant today could quite possibly be irrelevant by tomorrow, especially in some regions of the world. Still, the decisions we make today are really for tomorrow and understanding tomorrow is, therefore, essential to success. For example, which global markets will be emerging?

A decade ago this question was easy to answer. Today, with the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China), the Next- 11 (top 11 emerging new economies), and so many other up- and- coming regions around the globe, choosing the right market is much more complicated.  Therefore, without a crystal ball, how does a company determine where in the world to go?

  • What information is required to make the right choices?
  • What tools are available to help target the right global markets?
  • Whom can you rely on to help make sure the correct decision is reached?
  • What is the cost of not getting the information?

All these questions and more are answered accurately when analyzed against a backdrop of thorough due diligence. But understanding exactly what business intelligence is needed and how it will be evaluated is complex. Before proceeding, be sure to address these issues carefully and take action to:

  • Identify your goals and objectives, and formulate a strategy to achieve them
  • Define the exact information you need to support your decision making process
  • Prioritize what data are needed at the outset and what information can wait
  • Create a timeline with activities and an action plan for implementation
  • Understand the costs of getting the necessary data and weigh them against the costs of not obtaining this information
  • Define any budgetary constraints and how the future expansion will stay within those means
  • Develop a contingency plan and make sure you are prepared for other options—there is never only one way of doing things
  • Analyze, validate, and integrate and align the output with your strategic process

Because the quantity of available information is overwhelming, it’s critical to stay focused on actionable data, and within a global context, in markets where the meaning for each component may be different, but crucial to your success.