SDL-Commissioned Study Reveals Need for Global Content Operating Model to Drive Digital Experiences

New research finds that 92 percent of business and IT professionals face challenges as they translate content into different languages

Maidenhead, UK
11/9/2016 1:00:00 PM

WAKEFIELD, MA and MAIDENHEAD, UK – November 9, 2016SDL (LSE:SDL) today announced the findings of a September 2016 commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of SDL titled “Remove Translation Barriers That Obstruct Digital Experience Success.” Following in-depth research involving 151 organizations across the U.S., the study reveals that nearly half are planning to move to a global content operating model within 24 months. 

A global content operating model is one in which centralized technology and processes are in place to manage security, localization, compliance and workflows for local and culturally relevant digital experiences — at global-local scale. While most enterprises do not currently have such a model in place, the 19 percent that do are seeing or anticipating better brand consistency, improved customer experience, lower costs and increased revenue.   

“This new research comes as the industry faces a significant shift. The Information Age focused on availability of information – businesses have access to more data than ever before and customers have information at their fingertips, across various digital channels,” said Adolfo Hernandez, CEO, SDL. “Now, we are now entering the Age of Understanding, where information availability is no longer enough. The explosion of global content must be tailored to reflect language, culture, and context, catering to individuals’ needs.”

With 48 percent of business and IT professionals planning to move to a global content operating model within the next 24 months, it is clear that organizations today recognize the role global content plays in driving superior experiences across web, mobile and other digital channels. Even more, they realize the need for relevance in their content, especially when it comes to language – as 70 percent currently support five or more languages across websites and other channels.

Despite their prioritization of globalizing content, 92 percent of respondents said they experience challenges as they translate content into different languages. Top barriers cited in the research include the following:

  • Organizational and process issues – Many businesses feel that they simply are not set up for success, especially with internal fragmentation. Respondents cited lack of standardization for translation process (35 percent) and lack of centralized budget (30 percent) as two top challenges. 
  • Local understanding – Thirty-one percent of organizations feel that a lack of understanding of customer needs at the local level stands in the way of their ability to successfully translate content.
  • Integration – Only 29 percent of enterprises that work with a language service provider or translation management systems have a direct integration with their Web content management system (CMS), resulting in subpar manual processes for most. 
  • Fragmented technology environments – Distributed content and multiple repositories coupled with complex legacy systems slows progress. Sixty-two percent of enterprises experience this pain point, having reported having five or more content repositories – while 36 percent have 10 or more.
The full study offers actionable recommendations for how to adopt a global content operating model and reap the benefits of brand consistency, improved customer experience and better operational efficiency. Key findings from the study include:
  • Nearly half of enterprises are running 10 or more country websites
  • The top support languages for websites and digital content are, in order: English, Spanish, French, Chinese, German, Japanese 
  • Over 50 percent of companies do not localize content types that support mid-funnel and post-purchase activities, such as pricing, technical documentation and training 
  • While 45 percent of firms report using a language translation service provider, 40 percent translate content themselves 
  • Depending on the type of content, up to two-thirds of companies use some level of machine translation – with the vast majority using a combination of machine and human translation or solely human translation
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