10 April 2012

New Year’s Resolutions for Global Businesses

Written by Benjamin B. Sargent, Posted in Home Page Display, Language Industry Stuff

How to get your company on the right foot on translation and localization

New Year’s Resolutions for Global Businesses

Rather than list our predictions for 2012, we’ve prepared a set of resolutions that any director, manager, or vice president responsible for translation and localization can adopt without further ado.


  • “Get onto our CEO’s radar with globalization.” In fact, how about meeting directly with your CEO? Begin by reading the report “How to Excel as a Globalization Champion” (Aug11) to learn how to talk the talk, linking translation to the big picture issues of international business. Rather than managing your group in the weeds of operational issues like price, cost, and savings, ask the CEO about alignment with sales, global market share, maximum R&D leverage, and return on investment.
  • "Consider – and prepare for – the impact of corporate initiatives on translation activities." Things considered important by people working in corner offices affect localization and translation in a big way. Your task is to figure out what each corporate initiative — supply chain, customer loyalty, renovated brick-and-mortar stores, faster delivery times, fewer or more SKUs in inventory — means to them, and what it means to your team. Language or market adaptation issues create unexpected obstacles if not tackled during planning.
  • “Rethink our global web presence.” Global websites have become labyrinthine echo chambers where geo-lingual visitors (and even website managers) get lost among thousands of loosely organized pages with redundant, confusing, or sometimes missing navigation. Read up on what the top 100 online brandsare doing to simplify the user experience for geo-lingual visitors. Study “Gaining Global Web Presence” (Nov10) and “Unleashing the Global Customer Experience” (Nov07) to make sure you understand how to do it.
  • “Become an expert in inbound marketing.” Content authoring and language teams alike seem to be stuck on auto-pilot, like printing presses still cranking away even after the ink and paper were used up long ago. Product information is yesterday’s news. Get onboard with infotainment, viral content, personality-driven engagement, and telling your story with video. Too many websites are still the glorified brochureware of the last century. Develop a multilingual social media distribution strategy. Live a little!
  • “Work toward centralization and measurement, together.” While best practices, common toolsets, and shared services must be distributed outwards to the periphery of an organization, the first step is to gather capabilities, resources, and know-how towards the center in order to develop a cohesive approach. Business process management depends on data about the work product and the activities that produce it. Centralization and metrics help each other and ultimately provide the confidence and control required to de-centralize again during the later phases of localization maturity.
  • "Act on the knowledge that technology matters now more than ever." Whether productivity, consistency, or just plain cost reduction keeps you awake at night, automation is the only way to deal with the surging wave of content. The technology may come from your LSP or your IT department, but localization and translation departments must pro-actively and continually choose and adapt their tools and infrastructure. For 2012, localization/translation managers should conduct an audit of all the technologies they use directly and indirectly — and begin developing a strategic plan to improve and optimize rather than settle on, cobble together, and live with today's technology and processes. Read “How to Select a Translation Management System” (Nov11) to make sure you cover all the bases.
  • “Insist on standards compliance by LSPs and technology vendors.” Even if your own process is not yet standards compliant, any service provider or language technology brought into your company should be fully compliant with emerging standards in the industry.
  • "Communicate to the wider organization what we do." And the value of what you do. Translation and localization teams play a crucial role in generating large amounts of revenue, but their work is often below the radar. Make your efforts more visible by effusively promoting your team in company newsletters, presentations to corporate executives, meetings with peers, and at the water fountain.

About the Author

Benjamin B. Sargent

Content Globalization Strategist at Common Sense Advisory

Ben Sargent has worked in the language services industry since 1989, serving in operations, consulting, and marketing roles at companies such as Lionbridge, iXL, Bowne Global Solutions, and International Communications. He also helped to found and manage several venture-funded high-tech start-ups.

In his work at Common Sense Advisory, Ben’s primary focus areas are website globalization, translation management systems, and content management technologies. He also consults for Global 1000 brands and global technology vendors.

Ben has written articles and white papers on multilingual publishing and been a regular speaker at conferences and seminars in Asia, Europe, and the Americas. He has lived in France, and has recently traveled to China, Canada, and Western Europe. Ben has formally studied French, and earned a degree in Music Theory and Composition in 1983.