Listen to This Blog
There hasn’t been much discussion of what the Titanium Economy might be able to learn from the localization industry – language service providers or buy-side localization teams – as it relates to easing and speeding up the globalization journeys of the firms that make up this sector of industry. Obviously, fulfilling their translation and interpreting needs is one requirement, but there are three other areas that have a much bigger influence on determining success outside of their domestic markets: product design, local compliance, and customer support.
But, a short detour is in order first to define the term, “Titanium Economy.” It’s a phrase popularized by McKinsey & Company, referring to much lesser-known, tech-enabled manufacturing firms that focus on the industrial technology that underlies much of manufacturing itself – products such as aerospace components, color enamels, recycled plastic lumber, and robotics. And much like titanium, these firms have continued to remain durable and dependable as they keep churning out products while flying under the radar. Several are headquartered in the Midwest and on the East Coast of the U.S. and will play major roles in the transition away from fossil fuels toward a more sustainable, green economy.
So, what can these high-tech manufacturers learn from those who have gone before them in the areas of going and staying global?
International Product Design
User experience (UX) design is not exclusive to Silicon Valley. It’s much too valuable to ignore for the direct impact it has on a firm’s bottom line and customer/employee satisfaction – not to mention the design aesthetics of products, services, and programs. Individual markets don’t exist as walled siloes in which releases, reviews, and revenues remain invisible in other geographies. Social media via the internet broke down those barriers long ago for commercial enterprises.
For the vast majority of firms, it’s no longer a question of “If we’ll go after international and domestic multicultural markets,” but rather “How many, how fast, and to what degree will we support them?” Playing catch-up or trying to surpass competitors – whether local, regional, or global – with more locally nuanced product and service designs is always a difficult, expensive slog. Add on top of that high-quality localization, and you may be shut out of strategic and/or lucrative markets before you have a chance to pitch potential customers on why they should select your brand over others.
Delivering an integrated compliance experience wherever you do business around the world means more than simply outsourcing the function to local professionals. It requires you to understand and communicate how local laws, regulations, and business practices affect local corporate behavior and deliverables for your employees and those of your prospects and customers.
As your firm enters more and more markets, upper management and colleagues must have access to a reliable source of expertise to navigate local laws and practices that regulate their own plans. Local lawyers, collaborating with your own legal staff, can ensure that locally binding contracts are drawn up in a timely fashion, paperwork is in order for opening a local office, hiring practices adhere to local guidelines, import/export operations run smoothly, and the right information is provided in the right language at the right time to the right people.
Long gone are the days when customer care teams spend most of their time handling post-sales technical and customer account issues. Spurred on by digital transformation and the winnowing down of physical locations to interact with prospects and customers, support personnel are now expected to be global brand ambassadors, salespeople, and technical support gurus – all rolled into one – to guarantee not only revenue, but long-term customer loyalty. Add worldwide responsibility to the mix and it’s clear that the customer care function requires careful strategic focus and investment.
To keep from lagging behind competitors vying for local markets, avoid installing staff who lack the multilingual, multicultural expertise required. Manage your operations to ensure that you’re not forced to play catch-up with global expansion and domestic multicultural business objectives. This means developing an integrated business model to train and support human and virtual agents, underpinned by technical infrastructure capable of sustaining current and future markets into the foreseeable future.
In summary, going and staying global is just one more business process – nothing more, nothing less.
Regardless of size, vertical, or length of time in business, firms that make up the Titanium Economy can learn important lessons and avoid common mistakes through collaborating with localization professionals with deeper experience developing and supporting local markets. Integrating world-readiness compliance into processes and infrastructure now will avoid your having to struggle to retrofit it in the future. Once you accomplish that, your team will be able to scale its solutions efficiently and effectively for any combination of local customers who depend on you to be there when and where they need you.