Geography and politics in business

Geography may now be history in business, but politics remains the eternal present. In most multinational/ global organizations Pakistan is part of the EMEA operations while India is their APAC operations. Both are part of SAARC and were the same country before 1947. I am sure they would replicate products and services released in one over at the other. Pakistani branded “Shan” spice packets do wonders to the Indian curries my wife cooks in the US but her sister is deprived of the product in Calcutta.

In business geography may now have been declared as history, but politics remains the eternal present.

We had a client once who used to – and still does – run their container handling business from ports around the world. Our practice group implemented an ERP application for them primarily for their Mumbai and Chennai operations. By and by the client wanted to expand the solution footprint to the Karachi port. This triggered off a lot of fun.

Consultants from India would sure have visa issues if they were to go to Pakistan for the duration of the project. Client team members from Pakistan would face similar challenges to come over to India for a similar duration. What if consultants and the client team went to Colombo in Sri Lanka for the project?

No wonder Pakistan is part of the EMEA operations in most multinational/global organizations while India is clubbed along with APAC operations. Both these countries are part of SAARC and were in fact the same country before 1947.

That means in terms of market profiling, consumers would have similar values for a lot of attributes. Yet businesses are forced to run them under different organization structures. I am sure they would need to replicate a lot of products and services released in India (APAC) over at Pakistan (EMEA).

As I said, politics is the eternal present; and it is so across all geographies. This presence surfaces in different ways in different places. The recent instance I ran into this political segregation of a natural market was when I was shopping for ERP skills in the US market.

When one recruits an individual for an “open billable position” one normally has project imperatives breathing down one’s neck. So there is a strong impulse to say “for Dollar, the Client and the Skill” and pick up the first one that makes the cut. But then there is a fly that buzzes “what are you going to do with this guy once the project is over?” I would hum back “why send him back offshore”. The buzz would continue “but he has a green card”; and I would swat the fly.

But there would be this other little bird that would twitter “Isn’t he from Lahore? How would you send him to Amritsar?” I would be heartbroken and have a few extra BP pills that night.

It would not be fair to close this thought without a remark. My wife loves the spice packets with the brand “Shan”. They do wonders to her Indian curries. What a pity we are able to buy them only in the USA and her sister is deprived of the same in Calcutta.

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