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Our Analysts' Insights

05Jul

Who's Looking Out for Global Digital Transformation?

It’s rare to go for more than 24 hours without receiving an e-mail that references “digital transformation” in some way. Organizations of all types – commercial, government, NGOs, non-profits, and educational institutions – spend a lot of time discussing the challenges and changes required by digitalization. But who’s taking responsibility for the global ramifications of these initiatives? How are companies measuring success or failure? How will global content evolve  as a result? CSA Research has been conducting in-depth interviews with C-level executives and VPs across various industries to learn what they’re doing. We share below some of our initial findings.

But first, let’s define what digital transformation means to the commercial sector that we are interviewing. Some executives refer only to what’s going on in their marketing organizations when we ask them to explain the term. However, our research covers the much broader spectrum of what an organization must do to upgrade its overall global strategy, people, processes, technology, and governance structure to meet, engage, win, and service customers – wherever they happen to be in their digital world at any given point. Obviously, this is a tall order. That’s why it’s taking established, medium- and large-sized organizations two to three years to reach their digital transformation goals across all areas of their business.

  • It’s change management – not technology.Our executive interviewees report that processes and people typically require time and budget to catch up with the technology being implemented to support this digital evolution. At the same time, they point out that the alignment of people and technology is the easy part. What they spend more time on are the roadblocks created by corporate cultural as they ramp up their change management initiatives. As one interviewee put it, “Focusing exclusively on new user interfaces or apps is like ‘putting lipstick on a pig’ if you don’t address the underlying processes and organizational structures that must adapt adequately to support a digitally enriched customer journey – especially internationally.”

  • Enhancing the digital customer experience (CX) means globalizing business processes enterprise-wide. Companies must figure out how to globalize digital transformation just as previous generations of executives had to decipher how to globalize e-commerce. It involves much more than simply improving the performance of marketing programs worldwide or reducing the number of content management systems in use. It means preparing your entire organization to support customers seamlessly as they shift platforms online or move offline – regardless of language, time zone, or geography. 

  • Companies are missing out on LSP expertise.One thing that everyone agrees on is that digital transformation is difficult, but that it is fundamentally no different than any other type of business transformation. How so? To be successful, it requires support at the top, behavioral change, and will be ongoing. As a result, enterprises have chosen to bring in large consultancy firms – their frequent partners for big initiatives – to provide guidance. While these third parties can sketch out broad strategies, they are much weaker at understanding what’s required at the global and local market level or how to execute and scale their recommendations. Who can help? A small but growing number of language services providers have invested in deep content expertise and the ability to integrate that tightly with the global customer journey. These strategic LSPs are ideal for picking up where third-party consultancies leave off. However, not even localization teams always recognize the value that these evolving global content services providers bring to digital transformation initiatives.

  • No one is really paying attention to the enterprise-wide content piece of the digital transformation equation. Or, as one of our interviewees put it, “Is our content managing us, or are we managing our content?” No one whom we’ve spoken to so far has appointed an executive to be in charge of content as a strategic asset enterprise-wide. They may claim to recognize content in this way and say the right things, but in reality, they trust their CMO, CDO, or CIO to “do the right thing.” In almost all cases, this means that their digital transformation focus remains only on marketing content or the cost of producing content, with very little thought given to leveraging and monetizing this asset on a global scale.

The executives whom we interviewed are the first to admit that they don’t have all of the answers, or as one of them expressed it, “There are things that we know we don’t know, things that some of us know but others don’t, and things that we don’t even know that we don’t know.” Buy-side localization teams – and their global content services partners – need to increase their efforts at building credibility for the global value they can add to enterprise-wide digital transformation initiatives. Doing so will allow the enterprises they work for to avoid the investment in re-architecting that global e-commerce required in the past.

If your CMO, CIO, or CDO (Chief Digital Officer) – or a VP responsible for any of those areas –would like to be interviewed for our global digital transformation research, please contact rebecca@csa-research.com

About the Author

Rebecca Ray

Rebecca Ray

Director of Buyers Service

Focuses on global digital transformation, enterprise globalization, localization maturity, social media, global product development, crowdsourcing, transcreation, and internationalization

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