I just returned from Worldwide ERC®’s U.S. Spring conference and what struck me most was the overall sense of optimism from the attendees. Conference attendance was up 27% and the energy and enthusiasm of the attendees was encouraging to see. While business and global economic challenges remain, it was encouraging to see companies talking about business growth and signs of recovery.
We definitely had a “wow factor” and it was great to see the unified presence of Cartus and Primacy standing side by side in our booth. Based on our experience of working with many clients over the years that have gone through a merger or integration, we have seen firsthand the perils of not taking the time to do things right and not taking into account important issues like company culture. We are focused on a strategic and responsible integration that offers the best solutions for our clients, prospects, and our employees. Based on the conversations that I had with conference attendees, there was a general feeling that we are living up to what we have said we would do.
The View from the Top panel that I took part in was standing room only with lots of questions and sharing of ideas throughout the session. Among the highlights of the panel discussions were:
1) Focus on the talent of our organizations – companies are reinvesting in talent after a period in which things like training and career pathing slowed. It was generally acknowledged by the panel that growing talent is important and relocation is important to achieve that end. While cost control is still a concern to companies, to a certain extent business strategy outweighs cost. In Cartus’ 2010 Global Mobility Policy & Practices Survey, 76% of respondents indicated that business strategy is the more important driver to their organizations overall approach to assignments, versus 24% cost. Organizations understand that they need to have the right employees, in the right place, at the right cost, to be competitive.
2) Security and privacy – this continues to be a focus for clients and suppliers and an area where Cartus has a strong investment in technology, people, and processes. As cyber threats continue to increase, it is important to organizations that they are working with a provider that can help protect the integrity of their personal information.
3) Compliance and Consistency – organizations are looking to their mobility provider to help manage the complexities associated with global compliance including local labor laws, country cultures and requirements, knowledge of immigration issues, global tax codes, and compensation. The focus on tax compliance, as one example, is increasing as the profile of assignees is changing, with more short-term assignees and extended business travelers. As governments are becoming more interested in potential tax revenues and are becoming more sophisticated in scrutinizing companies’ compliance with tax laws, the need for companies to manage risk effectively will increase.
4) Social Networking – there was a robust discussion on the evolution of social networking and its application to the mobility industry now and into the future. As transferring employees and assignees turn in growing numbers to social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to access and share information, mobility providers will need to continue to ensure that their presence is meeting the needs of the marketplace.
The challenges of doing global business over the past few years have given us the opportunity to diversify and reinvent the way we do things. We have committed to understanding and adjusting to the changing needs of our clients and their employees in terms of global growth and expansion, changing demographics, new markets, and cost control. The ERC Conference really energized me and I look forward to the exciting opportunities ahead.