Networking across borders. Bechtle’s International Business Unit.
As technology allows us to collaborate over even the greatest distances, it opens up a whole new world of international business opportunities. Bechtle has been expanding its business beyond Germany for the past 21 years. What started out as a foray into neighbouring countries evolved into a network of subsidiaries in 14 European countries and today includes partnerships on every continent. 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 necessary flexibility to deliver what they need. Michael Moon, Head of the International Business Unit at Bechtle, explains to us the opportunities and challenges of cross-border IT projects.
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?
Michael Moon: Absolutely! Our growth parallels that of our customers, who are increasingly going global. This, of course, raises new issues. But we’ve got the right answers. In April 2016, Bechtle founded its International Business Unit (IBU), a central team dedicated to the interests of our international business partners and supporting colleagues, partners and vendors alike with their expertise.
Michael Moon, Head of the International Business Unit (IBU), Bechtle E-Commerce Holding AG.
After obtaining his degree in business administration and international marketing, the US businessman began his career at MobilePlanet in Los Angeles, California. From 2006 to 2015 he worked at PC Connection (now known as Connection), where he helped develop business opportunities and alliances across the globe—including a partnership with Bechtle. Mr Moon has headed up Bechtle’s International Business Unit since January 2016. He is committed to fostering cross-border collaboration between companies, brands and business units to meet—or better yet, exceed—the expectations of international customers.
Bechtle has long established itself as a pan-European IT e-commerce provider, with subsidiaries in 14 countries. How can Bechtle distinguish itself from national competitors?
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 the best price. 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.
Successfully implementing global projects is quite challenging. Bechtle carries out many such projects on a regular basis – and does so exceedingly well.
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 (ICC) 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 genuine 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 ICCs collaborate with one another in a way that gives us the necessary agility both in-house and with external stakeholders.
You mentioned international e-procurement, with customers able to place orders through country-specific shops. What does this entail logistically?
Bechtle’s headquarters are located in Neckarsulm, Germany, right in the heart of Europe. That’s also where we operate our logistics centre, one of the largest and most advanced of its kind. From here, we ship off-the-shelf products as well as tailored solutions around the world, taking extreme care to operate in accordance with the local strategies of our suppliers. Certain products can’t be delivered to certain locations, which is why we rely on an experienced team of highly trained export specialists to ensure that products arrive at their intended destination as promised and in compliance with legal regulations. All goods are thoroughly documented and meet the applicable export requirements.
As a major ACSL partner, Bechtle offers a global portfolio of IT products delivered in 175 countries. Leading multinational groups rely on this procurement solution.
Bild: John Rensten/The Image Bank/Getty Images
So Bechtle ships to countries throughout the world, not just those countries where its subsidiaries are located?
That’s correct. We’re able to do this because we cooperate with other providers at a global level. For instance, Bechtle is a key partner of ACSL, a network that allows us to offer a global portfolio of IT products through a single e-commerce portal—and to deliver those products in 175 countries. This solution complements our international business perfectly. It’s worth noting that, while we don’t rely exclusively on ACSL, we get more out of it than any other partner—in part because we’ve been using it for roughly 15 years. Major multinational companies rely on this procurement solution, which supports pricing for global portfolios, standardised product catalogues, local delivery and invoicing, as well as chat support for round-the-clock access to IT products.
That sounds like much more than just a platform for hardware and software orders.
IT procurement can be very complex, especially when it crosses national borders. That’s why Bechtle also offers international project management. In addition to various fulfilment options, large multinational customers often take advantage of a combination of different procurement methods Thanks to the Bechtle Group’s broad range of expertise and tools, not to mention our one-of-a-kind network, we’re able to truly home in on our customers’ needs and requests. Once we’ve finished advising them, they’ll have a comprehensive, efficient and user-friendly IT procurement and management system at their disposal.
„When account managers in Hong Kong, São Paulo, New York and Frankfurt can speak with one another, aligning to address a customer’s global needs – the world becomes smaller."
This appears to be no small task.
Successfully implementing global projects is quite challenging. But Bechtle carries out many such projects on a regular basis—and does so exceedingly well thanks to our standardised method, Bechtle Fair Project.
Customers often care just as much about high business standards and corporate values as they do about pure business transactions. How do you export standards and values around the globe?
It’s not easy. But we’ve found what I consider to be an effective way to go about it. As the initiating 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, Connection, Data#3, Datacentrix, JBS, JOS, Lexel, Microware and Softline—all lead the market in their respective regions and rank among the top partners of major vendors. The latest partner to join GITA, Softline, brings the total to 11 and expands the alliance’s scope to Russia, Turkey and Eastern Europe.
To summarise, the International Business Unit relies on four central components: pan-European e-commerce, exports through Bechtle’s logistics centre, a globally available IT product portfolio through ACSL and, last but not least, Bechtle’s Global IT Alliance. Does GITA offer anything that the other three don’t?
First of all, it's important to understand that each of these procurement avenues has its own raison d’être, independent of one another. That’s because no two customer situations are alike. For multinational organisations in particular, GITA is a fantastic solution as it combines a global reach with local services and contacts. Local units are able to bridge cultural, language and time-zone barriers. In addition, all partners embody the same values and standards that our customers expect of Bechtle. The added value of GITA therefore lies in its human component, not its tools. When account managers in Hong Kong, São Paulo, New York and Frankfurt can speak with one another, aligning to address a customer’s global needs—the world becomes smaller!