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Exclusive Interview:
Sir Terry Leahy, CEO, Tesco Plc

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  July- August 2009


Sir Terry Leahy, CEO, Tesco Plc For Sir Terry, Tesco’s core purpose is ‘to deliver value for customers to earn their lifetime loyalty’. There is no mention of products, no reference to the bottom line or market share, but a clear focus on people - the customers.

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Ralf Hundertmark







Build your value - Adding Sales Channel

Let me start by discussing what is required to enter international markets and what software houses should consider prior to making the decision to go international.

The product you want to bring into international waters should already sell locally rather well. Also, the solution should have matured enough, so that the early-bugs are off the system.  From a lifecycle perspective of software companies and products, I think it is fair to say that growth and internationalisation really mean the same thing. If you restrict yourself to your domestic markets, depending on your location, you neglect between 75 and 99 percent of the available markets.

Software, more than anything else, can be provisioned and distributed without boundaries. You don’t need logistics or physical supply chains in place to get your product to the user. Just look at some of the Open Source solutions, which sell without the involvement of a single sales person.

So what do you need to do now? Firstly I think it is of utmost importance that you communicate a clear message throughout your organisation. It is amazing how many people in an organisation suddenly have opinions about your strategy to go international. Make sure that the key persons are on your wagon and that all trouble-makers are out of the way. Sounds too hard? Trust me it is the only way!

For internationalisation, you want to be ready throughout your organization. That does not mean that everybody has to speak English from now on, but you need support and commitment for your people.

Secondly, it is language. Having English as the lingua franca and as the default or fallback language of your system is key. The system ideally should be capable of running all kind of languages including Chinese. All language relevant text should be kept in external XML files, which enables you to translate the system into any target language by using sophisticated tools that support your translation efforts.

After all of this has been taken care off, the real fun starts – documentation! Man, when I first left university, I used to be a programmer myself and I cannot tell you how much I loved writing user or administrators manuals. I strongly believe that this is the most hated job among programmers.

So it might be a good idea to get a professional technical writer on board to do your handbooks. When we did this in our old company, we though we only needed such a writer function part-time, but the fellows never left the company – it is just a lot of work and you can’t really avoid it.

And since you most probably will change from direct sales to channel or value-added based selling, the expectations towards your documentation increase exponentially. Sales literature, White papers, Product Presentations, Proposals, Specifications, Fact Sheets, Installation Guides, and User Guides are merely a few examples. And if you now think you don’t need that – bad news – this is not an academic exercise. Sooner or later all these documents are actually required and very meaningful. If you cut down on that, I could almost promise you find difficult times when it comes to sustaining your internationalization program.


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