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Just Published: Outsell Gilbane Study on Multilingual Marketing Content

Our 2011 report describing the current state of practice for globalizing multilingual marketing content is available now through March 31 exclusively through study sponsors  Across Systems, ADAM Software, Lionbridge, and SDL.

Multilingual Marketing Content: Growing International Business With Global Content Value Chains features a major update of the global content value chain, Gilbane’s framework for helping companies plan and manage their globalization practices. The new value chain adds core competencies to the existing functional view of multilingual content processes, and it clearly ties the value chain to business outcomes.

Study data includes top business goals and objectives and the investments that marketing and localization managers are making in programs and initiatives that support those goals. The analysis covers what marketing organizations can learn from product content groups, who are generally further along the content globalization maturity curve.

The report will be available directly from the Gilbane website starting April 1. In the meantime, please visit a sponsor site to access the study, and check this blog for research highlights and insights.

Delivering a Global Customer Experience: An Interview with Jonckers Translation & Engineering

Third in a series of interviews with sponsors of Gilbane’s 2009 study on Multilingual Product Content: Transforming Traditional Practices into Global Content Value Chains.

We spoke with Kelli Kohout, global marketing manager for Jonckers Translation & Engineering.  Jonckers is a global provider of localization, translation, and multilingual testing services, with operations across the U.S., Europe, and Asia. Kelli talked with us about Jonckers’ role in the global content value chain, why they supported the research, and what she found compelling about the results.

Gilbane: How does your company support the value chain for global product content? (i.e., what does your company do?) 

Kohout: Ultimately, Jonckers is helping clients develop content that earns understanding, adoption and loyalty from global customers.

Sometimes clients come to us with original content that will not localize well – in other words, that is not easy to turn into localized versions that achieve the desired response from audiences.  We provide best practices for improving the quality of their source content, asking additional questions regarding their organizations’ goals for their global clients, in order to improve the success of global adoption.  In doing so, we prove Jonckers’ philosophy that resulting translations can even improve on the source (in-country translators with longevity, institutional knowledge, up-to-date cultural knowledge, commitment).  We also help clients save time and money by delivering content that is flexible enough to be used for more than one purpose.

Gilbane: Why did you choose to sponsor the Gilbane research? 

Kohout: Our clients no longer compete solely on the basis of a better product or service – it’s about customer experience.  And in today’s economic environment, our clients are struggling with how to generate revenue by increasing innovation and global reach, which means increasing the amount and accessibility of multilingual content.  Simultaneously, they need to decrease expenses, like the costs associated with providing customer service.

This all points to the increasing need to localize effectively and efficiently.  Jonckers sponsored this study for the common good – the more we share trends, best practices and lessons learned, and the more we know what challenges our clients are facing, the more effective and valued localization services will be.

We also hope this study will raise awareness of some important localization best practices that will make companies more successful.  For instance, we see clients beginning to realize the importance of involving localization planning early in the product development lifecycle, but there’s still room for improvement there.  When localization is an afterthought, the outcome is not as good, there are extra costs, and bigger picture timelines can be adversely affected.

Similarly, more clients are recognizing the value of integrating the localization effort more closely with other functions.  As the study points out, there are more cross-functional champions within organizations who understand the big picture and have the mindshare with executives.  These champions can advocate for the needs of the localization function and help demonstrate its value.

Gilbane: What, in your opinion, is the most relevant/compelling/interesting result reported in the study?

Kohout: We’re seeing an increase in our clients’ global business objectives, but the study confirms that – on the whole – we’re still in the early stages of understanding the global content value chain.  For example, one of the top corporate objectives related to localization is customer satisfaction, which is important, but few are fully utilizing localization to manage their brand globally.  So there’s still room to evolve.  In addition, there’s a focus on generating revenues from emerging markets, but very few have yet tapped the potential from established geographies.

For insights into customer experience as a new basis for competitive advantage, see “Content Utility as the Value Proposition” on page 15 of the report.  You can also learn how Jonckers contributed to Adobe’s effort to build a globalization infrastructure that improves customer satisfaction, raises quality, and saves costs.  Download the study for free.

New Content Globalization Case Study: Philips

All businesses are facing serious disruptions from shifting global economies, technical advancements, and the need for strong, consistently branded online multinational presence. Royal Philips Electronics of the Netherlands has found a way to respond to these challenges without jeopardizing its ongoing business.

A world leader in the consumer lifestyle, healthcare, and lighting industries, Philips integrates technologies and design into people-centric solutions, based on fundamental customer insights and the brand promise of “sense and simplicity.” With 50,000 products, 1,800 logos, a website present in 57 countries and translated in 35+ target languages, and 500 consumer marketing managers in the Consumer Lifestyle sector, Philips’ global brand management strategy requires an adaptive system of people, process, and technology to provide a unifying influence.

This case study tells the story of how Philips has met and is keeping pace with changing and often disruptive business environments by evolving operations and communications touchpoints in a just-in-time approach that maximizes global opportunity based on consumer need.

Download the Philips story here:

Borderless Brand Management: The Philips Strategy for Global Expansion

Second Life Gets an International Life: An Interview with Danica Brinton of Linden Lab

At the recent Worldware Conference in Santa Clara, California, I was delighted to learn about how a high-tech company was achieving great success in internationalizing their software through crowdsourcing. The story gets more interesting. This was not back-room software plumbing but an innovative application, none other than Second Life, a virtual world and a social-networking MMORG (Massive Multi-Player Online Role-Playing Game).  Launched by Linden Lab in 2003, Second Life enables its users, called residents, to interoperate with a virtual world  through software called a Second Life Viewer. Residents can socialize, participate in group activities, and create and trade virtual property.  According to Google, there are over 9 million residents currently on Second Life.

I attended the presentation, “Brave New (Virtual) World,” and had an opportunity to catch up with Danica Brinton, Director of International Strategies and Localization at Linden Lab.  Here’s what she had to say.

Kadie:  When did Linden Lab realize the importance of internationalization?

Brinton: Around the middle of 2008, Linden Lab realized some discrepancies between U.S. and international business.  While 60% of the residents and twice the new registrations were from outside the U.S., revenue and retention numbers, while still healthy, indicated a gap in the localized  user experience.

Kadie: What happened when you entered the scene?

Brinton: I joined the company in June.  When I checked things out, I was stunned.  I discovered that we were paying $40,000 per quarter to LSPs.  What were we getting?  The viewer was translated only partially into 3 languages, and was nearly incomprehensible.  The website was translated partially into 2 key languages.  In both cases there were a lot of localization bugs.  On the flip side, hundreds of wiki-based Help pages were translated quite well into 8 languages, which was pretty darn good.  An interesting trend…

Kadie: So what did you do?

Brinton: Although we were a small company, when I showed my management the opportunity they were very supportive…but with limited funding.  So we had to get creative.  We enlisted the help of power users to translate the application and website.  To ensure quality control, we set up a repeatable localization framework, with translation, editing, testing, and end user review.  We established a tier system of resident translators, drawing on our super-users.   We built and acquired localization tools to manage translation memories and the localization process, and installed a locale-based ROI calculator to manage costs.  Finally, we hired 3 in-house linguists.  So you can see, it was a hybrid of crowdsourcing from the Second Life community on the one hand, and our in-house linguists and contracted translation agencies on the other.

Kadie: How did you divide up the work?

Brinton:  Who did what depended on the language tier.  Let’s look at the viewer, for example.  For tier-1 languages, we developed the glossary, did the translation, and collaborated with the Second Life community on the editing, QA, and some of the glossary.  For tier-2 languages, the Second Life community did nearly everything.

Kadie: What kind of results did you achieve?

Brinton: Less than a year later, I can truthfully say that we achieved some dramatic results.  We now translate the viewer and the website into 10 languages, and expect to reach 16 in May.  The active residents from outside the U.S. grew to 64% of the user base, and new registrations are now more than 2.5 times the U.S.  Even better, international revenues have surpassed U.S. domestic revenues.  Between the Viewer, the website, and the knowledge base, we now regularly localize over 150,000 words per language.

Kadie: What’s next for localization at Linden Lab?

Brinton: Strangely enough, past is prologue.  This new localization program is helping to increase customer satisfaction and bolster an affinity group.  You can even say that community-driven translation is building brand advocacy.  Some of the elite power users are evolving into business partners.  Localization is not only supporting our business, it’s helping to grow it.

The Content Globalization practice at the Gilbane Group closely follows and  blogs on the role of multilingual communication in social networking (see interview with Plaxo).

What’s Your Elevator Pitch?

First, Happy New Year from the Content Globalization team & hope your holiday season included rest and relaxation. Now back to it!

I’m not big on once a year resolutions; I like ongoing “continuations” better – i.e. keep doing what works and throw out what doesn’t. In terms of our education mission, what worked best in 2008 is exactly what we set out to do via our inaugural mandate — talk to practitioners, CIOs, strategists and fellow analysts about our view of the “globalization mandate” and understand how it fits into the “field view.” So in terms of “continuations,” we’re increasing this commitment — because it works.

Our 2008 experiences throughout corporate consulting gigs and Gilbane conferences underscore a simple truth — when folks share, communities gather, and corporate operational champions for multilingual communications band together, “things” happen. And our “thing” is solidifying industry awareness that content is a vital part of web experience, customer satisfaction, and multinational expansion programs. The monolingual “one size fits all” approach? Doesn’t work.

So what’s with my elevator pitch title? It’s an ongoing conversation we’re having with our community about making the business case for content globalization strategies that are funded, valued, measured and successful. Basically, the elevator pitch for multilingual communications in five minutes or less. Here’s one of our favorites, courtesy David Lee from 3M:
content matters.png

A Sharp Stick in the Eye: Tying $$ to Multilingual Content

Hewlett-Packard has long been a poster child for the application of people, process, and technology to content globalization solutions. The Gilbane case study on HP documented the company’s commitment to satisfying customers in their local langauges. The mandate for multilingual content was made clear by the then-VP of content and product data management: 90% of HP’s customers buy based on content, not on touching the product.
The importance of investment in content globalization solutions was driven home once again with HP’s announcement of quarterly earnings on Feb 19. Overall, the company posted a 38% increase in earnings and a 13% rise in revenue for its fiscal first quarter. Of note to our readers:

In its first quarter, H-P’s results were fueled by strong sales in its personal-computer division and robust sales overseas, particularly in markets such as Brazil, Russia, India and China. International markets accounted for 69% of H-P’s revenue for the quarter.

Put these results together with customer buying patterns.

  • 69% of the company’s revenues were in markets outside the US.
  • 90% of customers buy based content, not on touching the product.

Can there be any more compelling reason to develop a multilingual content strategy? And invest in people, process, and technology to execute against it?

Emerging Markets: The Brass Ring?

We conducted our occasional poll on most pressing business drivers for providing localized content to customers during our July 11 webinar with Idiom and EMC. (See below for results.) A post-webinar email exchange about the results stimulated a discussion on the business impact of established versus emerging markets (geographic regions in which economies are still developing). How are global companies approaching growth strategies? We set out to look for indicators.

Two of the 12 Megatrends in B2B Marketing indentified by the Economist Intelligence Unit in a recent survey underscore the importance of emerging markets in reaching global executives. From the report:

“The geographic demographics of today will bear little resemblance to those of the next ten years. . . by 2017 China will become the world’s largest economy when growth is measured on purchasing power parity. . . for 2006, [study] sponsoring organizations are targeting Asia and central/eastern Europe more than the Americas and western Europe.”
“…there is a growing belief that the high-flyers of the next decade will arise from the ranks of today’s domestic companies (domcoms) in emerging markets.”

We also looked at the performance of companies reporting quarterly earnings this week. On an interactive Earnings Cheat Sheet available on wsj.com, analysts say that IBM’s expansion in Asia is a positive factor:

“In the first quarter, IBM’s Asia-Pacific revenue rose 10% to $4.5 billion, on growing demand in China and India and a turnaround in Japan. Management said in May that it plans to increase staffing in China by at least 10% in each of the next few years.”

And in commentary on Merrill Lynch’s global reach:

“Merrill’s non-U.S. revenue has been setting the pace and now accounts for more than half of its GMI total. In April, Merrill said it’s taking a $2.9 billion stake in Resona Holdings, the largest foreign investment ever in a Japanese bank.”

One question pertinent to Gilbane readers is the timing of real investment in content technologies that will enable businesses to realize potential in these markets. For what should enterprises plan, and when?

July 11 webinar attendees see other factors as more pressing drivers today. Time-to-market for simultaneous product shipments is the most important, global and product brand management least important.

business drivers

These results are not surprising considering that the topic of the webinar was technical documentation for global markets. Participants were naturally inclined to be more concerned about shipping the documentation with the product and less concerned about brand management.

Results: Globalization and Brand Management Poll

The results are in — and they’re not surprising. Well, actually one is. A mere 35% of respondents indicated that their companies have a formal brand management team. The result to our second question, “Does the team include a localization or translation subject matter expert?” was a resounding 100% “No.” This, unfortunately, is the “not surprising” part. Although our N was smaller than we’d like, we expect that the trend would have continued on the same course.

The fact is, most companies have work to do to ensure that corporate brand flows through multi-geographical market segments in a way that’s both consistent and relevant to customers and prospects in specific cultures and locales. It’s not easy. According to Economist Intelligence Unit, authors of Guarding the Brand, almost half of their respondents believed expanding into new territories made brand management all the more difficult. The top two challenges? 63 percent cited cultural differences and 44 percent cited language barriers and translations issues.

It’s sometimes “easier” to avoid dealing with the presence of some 4000+ languages worldwide, but it’s not so easy to ignore when one investigates the facts in smaller “chunks” so to speak. Consider this list of “The 50 Most Widely Spoken Languages” as a more easily digestible example.

If your company aims to expand footprint and revenue generation in this “flat world,” globalization needs to be a part of the brand management discussion. And if you are responsible for leading the charge into a new geographic region — you need to have a voice that’s heard.

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