After many years of investment and improvement, globalization is now really part of the DNA of today’s global brands. We are seeing buy-in on localization’s priority from different parts of the organization; localization has even become a central function or a shared service in some of them. Most of their localization processes are now standardized. Financial oversight and centralized budgets are in place to address the KPIs for supplier management. And QBRs — quarterly business reviews — are a regular feature of business.
The catalyst for all of these changes to the localization business environment is the reality of continuous publishing and the resulting continuous localization model.
How has it changed us?
Where Are We Now?
It may look like cliché bingo, but terminology like cloud solutions and agile development have become ubiquitous. What they and others describe are the strategies that international brands undertake to meet the demands of a global marketplace, one that is increasingly characterized by
- simultaneous product shipment in an ever growing number of languages under steeply reduced time-to-market turnarounds
- explosive digital content to meet the technical and support needs of consumers as well as corporate sales and marketing goals
- mobile technology and its impact on both production and content marketing
No surprise, then, that translation and localization processes have also been paced to match the speed of today’s marketplace.
True Continuous Localization Model
After many attempts at finding the right balance between the pressures of immediate content, automation, and quality, global brands seem to be rallying around a centralized cloud-based translation management system to handle the automatic detection of new content. This seemed like a dream just 10 years ago but it is part of our reality today. It is all there: how projects are created, how resources are assigned, how content is pushed, how content is reviewed in-country or on-site; and, finally, how costs and project status are tracked.
When I look at the SOW of a typical project following this concept of continuous localization, I see a tighter workflow. I see that what we are required to provide is seamless integration of content publishing with content localization so that we can deliver volume in hours — what had taken days and weeks to achieve in the past. Everything is done online. And there are no extensions, period — we have to work within the agreed deadlines because everything depends on that.
What global brands have learned, and we suppliers have had to adapt to, is that there are no more secrets. Trust and transparency are the key values in the partnership that has developed between the two parties.
The information has to flow across the stakeholders and geography without any boundaries. When we talk about pushing the boundaries we are even talking about eliminating the boundaries. So, do you want to know the name of the translator who worked on a project? Well, her name is Pernilla and she lives in Perpignan in the South of France; her project manager is Lin Gua, and she is in our Nanjing office.
The old assumption that your vendor base was an asset and that you could not talk about them and keep them anonymous because the client was going to steal that resource from you is no longer a reality.
In a true partnership, in a true relationship this visibility into performance and issues with every player, every element in the supply chain is a key success factor.
Transparency and trust also demand unfettered information flow. I have written before about the need for Information Orchestration but it bears repeating: if the end of the product-based model of localization is to be successful for continuous publishing, only systems that embrace harmoniously playing, interdependent teams and tools can achieve continuous localization’s goals. The right personnel. The right tool components. The right delivery of value. (We’ve published an eBook on it, so click to download.)
I will be writing more about the challenges and changes to localization for global brands. Do you have questions you want answered? Share them in the comments below.