AI Increases Collaboration Opportunities for Product Managers and Localization Teams
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Whether or not product managers have direct responsibility for the international success of their products, they still want them to do well worldwide and are often held responsible for international revenue numbers. But what if they have little or no international experience, don’t understand how to build the multilingual training data required by their product, or simply lack the resources to research international markets, analyze product functionality, and beta test properly?
Opportunities for Acting as Allies Are Many
Localization teams to the rescue. Not only can the latter fill some of these gaps (especially ones related to large language models and generative AI), these teams are invaluable sources of innovation throughout the product lifecycle – from the UI and product design stage through creation and launch, post-sales support, and eventual sunsetting.
Possible Areas for Collaboration
Here are four areas of the many in which product managers and localization teams can easily partner to ensure that prospects and customers outside of their principal domestic market(s) enjoy at least the same level of customer experience as their domestic counterparts.
- Local market research / ideation phase. Which international audiences are ideal targets for a brand’s newest product or service? What’s the best way for product managers to uncover, analyze, and prioritize local market trends and unique user behaviors? Who’s tracking local and regional competitors? Localizers can augment product management resources by providing their own insights, as well as engaging CSA Research to deliver hard data to enable informed decision-making at the local level. They can also lend prompt engineering expertise for this area and facilitate virtual and in-person brainstorming sessions and visits for product managers with in-country staff, partners, customers, and prospects.
- Prioritization of product requirements. This is where the rubber meets the road for all product managers. Their biggest challenge is that there are always too many features and functions to fit into any release – no matter how small or how agile. As part of negotiating essential requirements for their own stakeholders, product managers will greatly appreciate localization leadership’s expertise to develop weighted criteria based on international use cases, diverse competitive landscapes, local business practices, and in-country regulatory environments.
- Product and UI design. Localization teams can support product managers to avoid adapting features or functions for diverse local audiences by baking in the capabilities – and the ability to turn them on and off – while adhering to usability best practices. This proactive approach does away with localization retrofitting after initial product releases – especially for applications such as multilingual chatbots. If available, prototypes can be tested with machine translation. This becomes more critical as developers of digital components and products implement AI-powered tools such as DeepMind’s AlphaCode, which can ingest problem specifications, solve the problem, and then generate the code.
- Sunsetting. When it comes time to retire a product, localization and product management must work together to coordinate the wind-down in terms of messaging, product roadmaps, language support, and customer support programs. For example, support may be extended for certain markets if the product in question is the brand’s local flagship offering with no other product ready to take its place.
Just as with UI designers, enterprise localization staff and product managers are natural allies. The choice to avoid or postpone designing and building for global-readiness is no longer a viable option for most organizations. And, for many verticals, it’s not difficult to do so anymore, especially for digital products, services, and programs. The more deeply that product managers and localization teams collaborate, the better their chances of ensuring that the end results will cater to current and future customers beyond home constituencies to support global growth.
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