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Networking across borders. Bechtle’s International Business Unit.
Bechtle has been expanding its business beyond Germany for the past 23 years. What started out as a foray into neighboring countries has evolved into a network of 24 subsidiaries in 14 European countries and today includes partnerships on six continents. Developing global IT solutions has long become part of our daily business. This includes guiding customers through the complex challenges of European and global procurement, offering the flexibility to deliver what they need. Thomas Jensen, Executive Vice President Bechtle E-Commerce and board member of the Global IT Alliance, explains the opportunities and challenges of cross-border IT projects.

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Bechtle is a company deeply rooted in south-western Germany, yet it walks the global stage with confidence. Are deep local roots compatible with international success?

Absolutely. Our growth parallels that of our customers, who are increasingly going international. The world is increasingly becoming smaller and more customers are thinking internationally. We put our customers’ best interests first,  which is why we have founded an International Business Unit (IBU) that helps to find our customers the best solution across there entities. The IBU consists of a central team combined with local sales in all our entities dedicated to the interests of our international business partners and supporting colleagues, partners and vendors alike with their expertise.

 

What are customers looking for when they go international with their IT needs?

One of the biggest challenges for companies operating in multiple countries is to manage and service their IT infrastructure across entities. So essentially, customers are looking for support in 4 areas:

  • Manageability and reporting
  • Service abilities
  • Consistency and business productivity
  • Scalability across entities

These are the four things that we are very well positioned to help our customers with locally and across borders.

 

Bechtle has long established itself as a pan-European IT provider. How does Bechtle distinguish itself from national competitors?

First and foremost, we are the only end-to-end IT solutions provider that operates across 14 European countries. That in itself is a significant differentiator. By linking the Bechtle Group’s broad service portfolio to those of our vendor partners, we’re able to offer our customers first-class service at attractive prices. Within this context, we leverage the strengths of Bechtle’s local entities and combine them with the benefits of our international network. Another key component is our unique e-procurement platform, bios®, which allows multinational companies within Europe to procure and standardise their IT consistently and cost-effectively.

 

What exactly does collaboration between Bechtle’s various European subsidiaries look like?

It all boils down to harnessing our power as a decentralised network. This concept, which takes many forms, has been a key ingredient of our success for many years. With respect to pan-European cooperation, we employ International Customer Coordinators who communicate what’s going on at their respective subsidiaries. They also work within an established, multinational network to guarantee their customers the best local and global service. One particular focus is on reducing costs and standardising central IT procurement, delivering real value for our customers. We listen, advise and support our business customers and their subsidiaries across national borders. Although some situations can be quite complex, our International Customer Coordinators collaborate with one another in a way that gives us the necessary agility to fulfill our customers’ needs and requirements while ensuring coordination between our various country organisations.

 

You mentioned international e-procurement, with customers being able to place orders through country-specific shops. What does that mean for our customers?

This means we offer our customers the additional benefits of a uniform level of service throughout Europe. Our customers enjoy a centralised European portal, but with a local approach and interface with many advantages like customised online shops (bios®), personal contacts locally with a consistent style (fast – reliable – competent – friendly), local invoicing and delivery, standardised local / global manufacturer agreement.

 

It appears that international business is not an easy task?

That’s correct! International Business does add a level of complexity. Successfully implementing global projects is quite challenging. That is why we at Bechtle have established our International Business Unit as well as engaged in the Global IT Alliance to meet our customers’ needs in countries outside our geographic areas. In addition, we have strong competences and colleagues that can help with exports when customers have very specific needs and requirements. Besides regular calls, we also meet within Bechtle’s international community twice a year to improve our processes and strengthen our collaboration.

 

Customers often care just as much about high business standards and corporate values as they do about pure business transactions. How do you ensure consistent quality and service level around the globe?

It is not easy, but we’ve found a solid approach to delivering this. As a founding member of the Global IT Alliance (GITA), we rely on an alliance of IT providers on every continent. What’s special about GITA is that all of its partners share the same understanding of personal commitment, expertise, promptness and quality. Customer satisfaction is the number one priority for us all. Moreover, GITA’s members—Atea, Bechtle, Compucentro, Agilant, Data#3, JOS and Microware—are all market leaders in their respective regions and rank among the top partners of major vendors.

 

To summarise, the International Business at Bechtle relies on three central components: a local-to-local customer offering between the 14 European countries, the Global IT Alliance and export. Does GITA offer anything that the other two don’t?

For our customers, the key benefit is our ability to support and serve them in the local markets they operate in.  In that sense, our local-to-local expertise and the Global IT Alliance are very similar, because the local engagement, local delivery and local support are really key in both, while export is primarily used in situations where customers have very specific needs. Therefore, we actually see GITA more as an extension of our own capabilities rather than a different approach.

Thomas Jensen, Executive Vice President Bechtle E-Commerce and board member of the Global IT Alliance

Contact.

international@bechtle.com

 

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Published on Oct 23, 2019.