For translation and localization services to be successful, the buyer must be knowledgeable and informed. No matter the money you’re ready to pour, no matter if your translation company is an A player—if you, the buyer, are clueless about what is required for effective translation and localization, your global expansion is bound to hit hurdles.
It’s for this reason that the Localization Maturity Model (LMM) by industry think tank Common Sense Advisory (CSA) is quoted so often, especially—and unsurprisingly—by Language Service Providers (LSPs). The LMM helps buyers of language services benchmark their localization and globalization processes, and provides guidelines to improve them, and in turn, strengthen their international business practices.
A couple of months ago, CSA updated the model to its current version: 3.0. It provides insights into how companies can organize, strategize, work, and automate better in order to localize faster. The report is the result of interactions with 90 global companies in 15 countries. Take a peek.
Drivers and enablers of accelerated localization
So, what’s new about the latest iteration of the LMM? Co-author of the report, Rebecca Ray, puts it thus:
“The urgency: No matter the level of [localization] maturity that organizations are at, they need to move faster to get to the next level. Their competitors already are in many parts of the world—including their own home markets.
How it became so urgent: It became urgent because of countries such as India coming online (empowered users in emerging economies) and people’s growing intimacy with devices.”
What we also found very interesting is a table mapping how drivers and enablers of speedy localization have changed over the years in five key areas: governance, strategy, process, organization, and automation. The period tracked is 2006 to 2016, which also marks the existence of the LMM, as put forth by CSA.
Governance: Starting with reactive quality models in 2006, companies have since recognized that they need to be proactive and look at quality as the customer defines it.
Strategy: Localization teams now recognize that sponsorship must be top-down and do not waste time building support from the bottom up.
Process: Retrofitting products to accommodate other languages, common in 2006, is unheard of in 2016, except for languages such as Arabic. The other significant process change occurs between 2011 and 2016: Linguistic Quality Assessment (LQA) has been often scaled back because of a lack of Return on Investment (ROI).
Organization: A decade ago, localizers often met with resistance from middle management. Experience has now taught them to be proactive about seeking executive sponsors to avert pushback.
Automation: From a time with hardly any Machine Translation (MT) in 2006, to a playing field leveled by many technology vendors—and a push to achieve beginning-to-end automation that very much includes MT—there are big changes, indeed, in this sphere.
Progressing through the different stages
The rest of the report contains solid—if oft-repeated—advice for progressing from one stage of buyer maturity to another. Below is a summary:
Level 1—Reactive: At this stage, there are no formal processes or resources assigned to globalization. Not everything can be solved at once, so be realistic and try to focus on just a few issues. The first steps you take should include identifying an executive sponsor, laying the groundwork for a globalization strategy, and educating yourself on technology options.
Level 2—Repeatable: International growth is happening fast, but organizations still do not accommodate local markets. Now is the time to craft a multilingual content strategy, staff a dedicated localization team, and implement formal processes.
Level 3—Managed: Things are much smoother, but language teams feel the pressure as more teams reach out to them, and still, no dedicated budget exists for language services. Now is the time to think big and tie globalization strategy to the larger corporate goals. There is a need to break out of the silo of being a “special” service.
Level 4—Optimized: By now, there is a Center of Excellence in place, but the localization team must move toward a more important role in their organization: a catalyst for change. Team members need to push for positioning themselves as the go-to experts for international business.
Level 5—Transparent: Localization items are on everyone’s checklist, irrespective of which department they are working in. Organizations stay on top of the latest language technology developments as demand increases to implement them internally.
Something the authors of the report caution against between Levels 3 and 4 is the localization maturity shuffle. This happens when the localization team has mastered daily operations and is ready to take on a larger role, but executives underestimate what their services can achieve. So there is conflict at the time of moving from the operational mode to the strategic.
Watch out for the localization maturity shuffle. Source: Common Sense Advisory
More than anything else, the LMM inspires companies to continuously improve the way they do global business because it’s the only way to prepare for future challenges. As Ray concludes in her blog post, “Today, your team must improve at handling mobility, augmented and virtual reality, speech, and IoT (Internet of Things). Tomorrow, other disruptions will appear, so stay alert while dealing with today’s challenges.”