A Case for Geo Champions

ThinkstockPhotos-461940211Welocalize recently hosted a conversation with localization leaders in Boston, Massachusetts focused on the topic of Geo Champions.  Smith Yewell, CEO and Co-Founder of Welocalize facilitated the discussion, with our featured guest Nancy Anderson, Senior Director of Globalization at EMC Corporation.

The event took place at Café ArtScience in Cambridge, which provided the perfect setting for an engaging dialogue with industry leaders from some of Boston’s top global organizations.

What are Geo Champions?  EMC has defined the role as an in-market localization team member who works directly with the local field and leadership to define and deliver language programs.

EMC set up the Geo Champion role nearly a decade ago and it is constantly evolving.  When the role was first introduced, they primarily focused on localization of marketing content and campaigns.  They have grown the role to localization and internationalization of products, including software and documentation.

In order to prove the concept, the first EMC Geo Champions were contractors. Once the program gained traction and demonstrated tangible results, the contractors were moved to full-time employees.  Nancy noted that FTEs are preferred, as they have a vested interest in the long-term success of the role and the localization requirements within each geographic region.

What is the profile of a Geo Champion?  Nancy explained that the original contractors started primarily as local reviewers.  As they gained experience and trust in their local markets, they moved to program managers.  She stated that the role requires more than a linguist background.  They must be an effective communicator that can have business and strategic discussions with local leadership.

One of the primary benefits of a Geo Champion is the ability to build efficacy of the localization program.  They are also very valuable in creating long-term relationships with the key stakeholders, providing visibility as to the value of a language services.  Geo Champions often work with the key regional leadership to define business and program requirements.

Nancy also mentioned in the discussion that once Geo Champions were implemented, most of the conversations about localization moved away from quality.  Working closely with the field and management, they are able to build trust and confidence in the programs, as well as act as the local subject matter expert.  This has helped the globalization team members deliver results based on defined expectations.

EMC has advocated three distinct differences in their globalization program that are attributable to the implementation of Geo Champions:

  1. Better service for a language. Geo Champions are in constant dialogue with local stakeholders. They use direct feedback by working as the local language subject matter expert. Quality naturally improves by working directly with the service requestor. This has reduced the number of service errors because requirements are defined at the local level with mutually-agreed upon expectations and standards.
  2. Relations built on trust. There is greater confidence from the field sales organization, as they are working with the Geo Champion to define specific market requirements for language services in correlation to revenue-generating activities. EMC also introduces the role of localization with new employees, to immediately build a relationship and provide an understanding of the role of localization in the overall business. Collaboration and teamwork with local representation builds trust, as the localization team has a visible vested interest in their local market success.
  3. Measuring success by impact. Working in the market, Geo Champions can demonstrate the impact to the business with the local language support associated to in-country specific requirements. This includes using key market indicators, including market satisfaction feedback loops and tracking usage of content consumption.

An additional benefit to the Geo Champion program has been discussions and expectations around or related to quality.  By working locally, the champions are able to help define the best quality standards based on project requirements.  This supports EMCs tiered quality guidelines, as well as led to market implementations of services and new technologies including machine translation and automation.

“We were able to move to programs that provided the right quality at the right time,” said Nancy.  “It created a very healthy dialogue and less focus on single typos and linguistic issues.  We now talk about what is acceptable in market and what do we want to achieve with specific request for services.”

Overall, the Geo Champion has dramatically improved engagement at the local language level, which has led to growth in volume of service requests and proven impact to the global business.

Jamie Glass, VP Global Marketing at Welocalize

Welocalize LocLeaders Local events are designed to bring industry experts and colleagues together to discuss current issues, trends and share best practices.  For information about upcoming events, go to http://www.welocalize.com/events or drop us a line marketing@welocalize.com to find how you can participate in our exclusive LocLeaders events.

Nancy Anderson, who is Senior Director of Globalization at EMC Corporation, is responsible for delivering content in multiple languages to a dispersed global organization. Her team manages technical enablement and localization of EMC’s products for a global audience, including field sales content, training, marketing materials and campaigns and other content that supports EMC’s global business requirements.