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AdvantageJan 26, 2024 11:46:35 AM6 min read

9 Modern IT Challenges for Multi-Location Enterprises

Multi-location enterprises face complex IT challenges, from networking and cybersecurity to managing outdated systems, selection of providers, and local regulatory compliance.

Navigating these challenges is crucial for ensuring seamless business operations and continued growth. Senior IT professionals must continuously adopt and adapt to technological advancements while strategically managing the unique demands of a multi-location setup to stay ahead.

Let’s explore the primary technology and communication challenges for multi-location enterprises.

1. Networking in a multi-location environment

Setting up and maintaining strong networks in a multi-location environment is no small task. It comes with the challenges of different regional standards, scalability, coping with security threats, and fixing latency or reliability issues.

To navigate these hurdles, companies increasingly turn to solutions like hybrid networking, which blends public and private networks for greater flexibility. For example, the adoption of Software-Defined Wide Area Networks (SD-WAN) is rising. The SD-WAN market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 29.7 percent from 2022 to 2027.

Additionally, cloud-based solutions are dominating for their scalability and reduced physical infrastructure maintenance. For example, Microsoft’s cloud segment revenue grew to $31.8 billion, up 24 percent year over year, according to its Q1 2024 earnings report

Senior IT professionals must blend new technology into existing networks, including securing remote access points and safeguarding data across multiple locations for security and efficiency.

This difficulty has catalyzed a trend in multi-location enterprises towards partnering with specialized firms for scalable cybersecurity.

2. Cybersecurity in the age of decentralized work

Managing multi-location enterprises is challenging due to the compounding effect of having offices spread across the country or world.

Differences in time zones, systems, languages, and computing environments add layers of complexity. These variables can magnify the impact of a security breach in one office, affecting the entire network. 

Navigating this landscape requires avoiding common security pitfalls and enhancing protection across the company to address varied challenges for each location.

The fragmented nature of decentralized businesses demands keen attention to detail from in-house IT teams who are already stretched thin.

3. Bridging gaps and connecting silos

Implementing collaboration tools across dispersed teams presents unique challenges for multi-location enterprises. A critical aspect is finding the right balance between enabling collaboration and avoiding information silos.

A company with teams in different time zones might use a variety of tools for communication. When this happens, information gets trapped in specific departments or applications. As a result, it’s challenging to keep everyone on the same page.

This shows the importance of a strategic approach to communication tool selection and implementation. It enhances collaboration while maintaining the free flow of information within the enterprise. 

4. Adapting IT infrastructure to growth

Modernizing and upgrading network systems presents a significant hurdle for multi-location enterprises. Primarily because they must:

  • Align technologies with different regional standards, requiring extensive research and compliance.
  • Navigate multi-state or multi-country regulatory differences, updating systems to align with various legal requirements.
  • Efficiently manage expenses fragmented across locations, necessitating careful coordination of resources.
  • Integrate new technologies with existing systems, demanding time and technical expertise.
  • Overcome logistical complexities like coordinating teams across different time zones.

This process is time-consuming and labor-intensive, often exceeding the threshold an in-house team can manage independently. It’s why so many global enterprises are inclined to contract with professional third-party support as they recognize the advantages of external expertise over coping with limited in-house resources.

5. Ensuring IT assistance across distances

Multi-location enterprises face the complex task of providing ongoing IT support to globally dispersed employees, contending with language barriers, varying time zones, and different country-specific regulations.

Time zone differences delay resolving IT issues, and language barriers lead to misunderstandings during troubleshooting, amplifying the complexity. Addressing these challenges requires a flexible and coordinated approach to IT support that is adaptable to each location's diverse environments and regulatory landscapes.

Multi-location enterprises increasingly rely on specialized third-party vendors with global IT support experience and networks of service providers to meet this challenge effectively.

6. Navigating regulatory differences

Multi-location enterprises face the tedious challenge of navigating varying regulations and compliance requirements. Compliance issues are particularly complex due to differences in legal frameworks across different geographical locations.

A prime example is the implementation of GDPR in the European Union, which requires stringent data protection measures and impacts businesses globally.

Adhering to diverse standards demands a comprehensive and proactive compliance strategy, often involving thorough industry expertise and regular updates on regional law changes.

Effectively managing regulatory differences is crucial for avoiding legal pitfalls and ensuring smooth business operations in different places.

7. Tracking different providers, contracts, and renewals

Managing local service providers, contracts, and renewals is a complex task for multi-location enterprises. It's problematic when dealing with providers that are not multi-state or global despite the client's expansive footprint.

Companies often face unexpected expenses like contract renewal fees or cancellation penalties. They may also incur losses from unresolved billing errors and hastily paid invoices. Simply paying invoices to clear them off your plate without noticing or resolving common billing errors results in needless financial waste.

Furthermore, the traditional method of tracking these details through spreadsheets is insecure, confusing, and requires constant manual updating and segmenting when you want to look at only one region, one technology, or one provider. All of which contribute to inefficiency and oversights.

​​Additionally, the burden of tracking and resolving trouble tickets for various providers imposes more monotony, piling more tasks onto an already full plate for IT professionals.

Navigating the intricate landscape of multi-state, multi-country, and multi-service accounts requires third-party support to offset the learning curve and additional costs associated with in-house management.

8. Managing multiple locations is expensive

Managing multiple locations places a significant strain on resources, particularly time and money.

Senior IT staff often find themselves sidetracked by administrative tasks, diverting attention away from more valuable and strategic initiatives. This includes managing numerous global provider contracts and potentially tracking hundreds of renewals, further compounding the challenge.

For instance, one client saved 300 man-hours annually by outsourcing and streamlining their technology expense management across locations. 

Matters are made worse by working with different vendors, as they don’t communicate with one another, and clients wind up paying for overlapping services.

9. Coping with outdated systems and old technology

Senior IT professionals in multi-location enterprises face the complex task of updating legacy systems. Division across different sites that don’t use the same service providers and tools complicates matters further.

These challenges may result in operational inefficiencies, increased costs, and disruptions:

  • Ensuring compatibility between old and new systems
  • Lack of prior experience with large-scale updates
  • Minimizing downtime during the transition
  • Dealing with intricate data migration

Effective transitions require a comprehensive plan addressing current and future IT needs to ensure seamless integration and ongoing operations. Outside technology implementation support is critical for ensuring a smooth legacy system upgrade.

IT for multiple locations is challenging for in-house teams

IT professionals in multi-location enterprises navigate a wide range of challenges, from setting up effective networks across various regions, ensuring cybersecurity in decentralized teams, and implementing collaboration tools without creating silos.

They must also adapt IT infrastructure for growth, manage multiple service providers and contracts, and upgrade outdated legacy systems. All of this while considering the financial and time constraints.

For expert help with your multi-location IT challenges,  contact Advantage’s team of experts and turn these complexities into opportunities for growth.