Reinventing companies to support local experiences

When companies launch products into international markets, the process of globalization and localization is usually undertaken at the marketing or operational level.

However, by managing the globalization-localization process within these areas of the organisation, companies are saying this is a post-development process and not a pre-development process.

For example, when it is managed at the marketing level, companies are merely adapting content that’s already been created in an effort to convey the same message across into a different culture.

When it’s managed at the operational level, it becomes a checkbox item.

For globalization and localization expert Paul Cerda, this implies a lot about how businesses look at their international markets, which is in his view problematic.

Paul asks: “Are your customers in other countries as important as your customers in your home market?

“If they are, then you should really reassess the way you’ve designed your company and make the globalization process a part of the initial development process, which then necessitates a lot of changes to the overall organisation.”

Paul’s career has been equally split as an educator and as a localization and globalization professional.

He works as a consultant to help companies redesign themselves to support international customers to help them more easily launch their products, services and company cultures globally.

“I start with an assessment to make sure that all of these stakeholders understand what the other team’s challenges are, and so they begin to see a holistic view of what it takes, because ultimately, none of this happens in isolation. Everything is interconnected.

“By having those conversations, walking through a site and illustrating where these problems might be when you add new fonts characters, locales, sensibilities etc, it really helps them to understand the depth and breadth of the problem that they need to face in supporting international customers.”

“Once we have an idea of where they need to do work, then we prioritise that.

“We’ll work together to not only put together a strategy for launch or support, but will also put together a tactical plan of how they can get there and continue to grow those areas.

When Paul talks to companies about the process of globalization and localization, he will often use the term “culturation” to describe the organic nature of taking a product or a service into a new culture and trying to make it a part of that culture as if it was grown there.

“I use the term culturation because it implies this botanical sort of culturing or germinating in the soil of a new culture.

“When you take a product or service somewhere else, you are creating a new version of that product or service. So as a product manager, you not only own the US product, you own the EU, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, and then all throughout Asia, wherever you might go.

“So you’re really a portfolio manager once you do those first launches.”

For companies that may not have considered the process of globalization and localization in this way, Paul has some simple advice.

“As soon as you realise that you’ve made the mistake, fix it. Because otherwise you continue to build on it and pretty soon the inertia to leave things as they are prevents any change whatsoever. And then everybody in the system is kind of stuck with how it started and there’s no appetite to fix it.”

If you want to know more about this area, visit Lion People Global’s website where you can watch back our LT Talks series of videos where we have talked to some of the industry leaders in localization for their insights into the world of translation.

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