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Our Analysts' Insights

11Nov

Four Ways to Raise and Maintain Visibility for Globalization

Globalization managers and directors work hard to raise the visibility of their teams. However, this responsibility extends beyond expanding awareness of what these teams accomplish to communicating successfully the value of what they deliver for their organizations. There are many roadblocks along the way, but the good news is there are ways to avoid and bypass them.

Challenges Faced by Globalization Teams

Regardless of how globalization-savvy your organization currently appears to be, it’s critical that you continue to invest in raising and maintaining visibility of the value of your function and your team. Here are three challenges that have risen in priority since the pandemic began: 

  • A disconnect between executive support and engagement. This shows up in a “go global” mandate versus executives ensuring that their commitment to globalization is reflected in performance objectives for all teams across the company. Integrating globalization as a business process creates friction – often big-time. Incorporating it into strategic planning and tactical deliverables requires most managers to change their thinking and behavior. This almost always causes resistance, necessitating time and support before globalization can be transformed into a core value.
     
  • Integration of acquired teams. Globalization teams face a big challenge in figuring out how to onboard new groups without interrupting their innovation. Research shows that the acquiring firm’s localization group often leaves a new group alone for six to 12 months.
     
  • Middle management blockers. Our research consistently shows that the biggest challenge facing the acceptance of globalization as a business process is the “brick wall syndrome.” This occurs when middle management peers run out of budget or bandwidth – or both – to meet their international obligations. Everyone must juggle several tasks every day at work – especially at the middle management level, where much of a firm’s work actually gets done.
     

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Four Ways to Raise and Maintain Visibility for Globalization

What does your team really deliver for the company when you view it from the perspective of executives, colleagues, business functions, and product lines? In a nutshell, it’s probably something along the lines of freeing content and code from language and cultural constraints to support richer customer experiences outside of your home market. However, this mission will be perceived and expressed in various ways, depending on the audience. It’s your job, along with your executive sponsor, to define and communicate the value of what your team offers to all of these differing groups.

  • Validate the minuscule investment required. Regardless of industry or target market, your company only allots a minuscule amount of resources for translation and localization, as evidenced by our research data. Since 2010, the percentage of total revenue spent on language services in all of CSA Research’s datasets has never surpassed 1% - and it usually comes in considerably lower than that amount. Not a single firm in our latest survey of 90 global companies can muster more than 0.2% of their resources, even when expenses for areas such as overhead and localization engineering are included.
     
  • Brainstorm with people your executives trust. Finance, PR, and procurement teams understand – usually better than anyone else – the data that resonates with leadership. Leverage their extensive expertise to help you communicate the value of what your team delivers – and what it’s capable of in the future when resourced appropriately. Ask them for insights on how to tailor your messaging for specific audiences across the company.
     
  • Analyze your team’s contributions through the eyes of other teams. Identify the pains and challenges that the globalization group offloads – or could offload – from colleagues. Then start to share information around the organization to see which messages resonate to communicate value. For example, “Bet you didn’t know that our customers in Germany and Japan access our help center content 10 times more than they do in the U.S. They also tend to choose longer articles.”
     
  • Assess what it would mean for your team to be non-existent. Evaluate the repercussions to specific business functions – and to revenue, market share, and brand perception – if your team vanished. There would certainly be frustrated employees in your company who wouldn’t know how to get their content or products localized and others who would have to manage translation projects in addition to all of their other responsibilities. Not to mention, there would be exasperated prospects and customers who couldn’t find localized information or engage with the company in their language.

Maintaining the right level of buy-in for the value of the globalization function enables you to keep moving upstream to gain your seat at the strategic table(s) at optimum times. While three-quarters of respondents in a survey on globalization maturity claim that they operate as centers of excellence, between one-third and one-half of them participate only after all decisions are made – or worse, not at all – for activities related to marketing and product/service development. Make sure that your team avoids landing in this category by investing in a formal evangelization program each year to educate and maintain active support among colleagues and executives.

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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