What Every CEO Needs to Know about Localization
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What Every CEO Needs to Know about Localization

What Every CEO Needs to Know about Localization

What Every CEO Needs to Know about  Localization

Thanks to the cloud, many companies today are born global, even if that may not be their intention. In other cases, the shifting centers of business growth have made “global” a hard-to-ignore source of revenue.

You know all this. You also know that translation and localization are inevitable for international growth. But how do you get localization off the ground? How much is it going to cost? What are the things that you must know about localization at a high level?

We’ll try and answer some of these questions in this blog post. Let’s assume you know why exactly you need translation but lack a bird’s eye view. Each of the topics discussed below merits a full-fledged discussion that you can find elsewhere on our blog.

Let’s get this out of the way first: How much will translation cost?

It’s like asking, “How much will content cost?”

The answer depends on so many variables that a general ballpark figure isn’t going to be of any use at all. However, I will say this much: it normally costs a fraction of the money required to create original content, or as a rule, less than one percent of annual revenue.

Now, juxtapose that figure with the expansive market that localization opens up for you. We rest our case.

Will localization automatically hike up global sales?

Yes, if all the other conditions required for success exist. No, if not.

In other words, don’t expect customers to accept poor logistics, lower quality products, or a less-than-optimum buying experience just because you have made product information available in the local language. Conversely, if you meet these requirements but have not localized, you are wasting your time.

Localization is just one part of the formula for global marketing success, but an important part. There is no user experience (UX), no inbound marketing without translation.


Do we need a “localization program”? Can’t we just translate on-the-go?

Yes, you do need a localization program, and, no, you can’t just throw translation over the wall, for these reasons:

1. Take our word on this: The faster you set up a centralized program, the better. Simply because, when you start translating at an enterprise level, at some point you will need dedicated resources and clearly-defined and established processes, unless you want your international marketing staff to go bald. You may not need a big team — outsourcing is a smart alternative — however, you do need some staff to be dedicated to localization. Also, setting quality expectations, establishing review processes and defining key performance indicators early on saves you from a lot of pain and chaos later.

2. Ad-hoc translation is counterproductive, costs more, and affects quality. Typically, in such a scenario, the different departments in your company order translations on their own, from multiple vendors, and probably are not using translation technology. Or, at least they don’t have a unified strategy for technology. Centralized translation programs, on the other hand, bring many benefits of scale, cost, and quality. There is typically more predictability, productivity increases, and on-time product launches in international markets. 

3. Translation needs to become a business process. It’s not the exotic cheese you occasionally indulge in, but rather it should be treated like a utility service, like water or gas, because multiple departments will need to use it, often perhaps in small quantities. Centralized localization can make this happen.

What do I need to know about translation procurement?

It’s not like buying other commodities, because it isn’t one. Add to this the new need for continuous publishing because of agile development, and you can forget about buying translation the old-school way of per-word pricing.

What about translation technology?

We don’t blame you if the first thing that comes to your mind when we mention translation technology is Google Translate. But translation technology doesn’t end there; in fact, it doesn’t even start there.

Machine translation (MT) has its place and purpose, but it does need to be treated like a project. MT engines need to be trained for your domain and the languages they will be used for. And even when it’s implemented, it’s still rare that MT output can be used in its raw form.

Also, MT is not the only translation tool out there, though it has understandably captured the popular imagination. Several computer-aided translation (CAT) tools have existed for a long time now and contribute greatly to translator productivity, chief among them being translation memory (TM). Cloud-based translation environment tools combine all-encompassing solutions that take care of everything from file handling to quality assurance to MT.

However, choosing the right translation software for your business is tricky, given the many choices available. It’s easy to over-invest, so tread carefully.

Lastly, what should I know about localization providers?

Localization companies come in all shapes and sizes, and buyers may choose to work with small companies, single language vendors (SLVs), or multi-language vendors (MLVs). How much to outsource and what to keep in-house; whether to single-source or have multiple vendors; should you use your LSP’s tools, build your own, or opt for a third-party vendor? The answers to these questions require that you drill down into your own priorities, quality expectations, and budget allocation.

Also, one last thing: Working with global brands over the years endows language service providers (LSPs) with much insight into tasks other than translation. For instance, we do know a thing or two about multilingual content management, sentiment analysis across languages, helping set up global customer service centers, recruitment, and so on. Make sure you tap into your LSP’s super powers.

Which of the topics above would you like us to blog about in further detail? Do let us know in your comments.