Centralizing the Localization Function Leads to the Right Balance

By Wayne Bourland, Director of Translation at Dell

LocLeader Logo on blkWayne took part in the recent Welocalize LocLeaders Forum 2015 in Berlin as a featured panelist. In this blog, he summarizes some of his key thoughts related to the topics and discussions.

The process of localization in any organization, whether enterprise or small-medium business, is complex. It involves technology, people, and processes. Content types can vary and often subject matter expertise is required for much of the content. All this takes place under budget and time restrictions.

Dell_Logo-300x299In a large organization like Dell, where we have over 110,000 employees and numerous product lines and brands, the volume of content is HUGE. If all our localization activities were decentralized, it would be chaotic and negatively impact the Dell brand, which is worth billions of dollars. It is difficult to position localization as a strategic function when it is not centrally managed.

At the Welocalize LocLeaders event in Berlin, a lot of the discussions centered on engagement and creating a “sphere of influence.” How do you raise the profile of localization within your organization? How do you make sure all company content comes through a central point, in other words – YOUR team?

Whether you are an enterprise organization like Dell or a tech start-up like Optimizely, this is no easy challenge. If you do have a centralized model with one or two multi-language vendors, you may find yourself in the occasional battle with procurement or internal teams when a small single language vendor is found to be cheaper. In the long run, when managing deliverables across multiple languages, the reduced overhead, consistency, and single point of accountability of a centralized localization function and strategic relationship with a small group of MLVs, leads to the right balance of cost, quality and velocity.

You do have to make sure you continue to market your team and services internally, to all divisions and stakeholders, to make sure they benefit from the central activities – translation technology, translation automation and machine translation (MT), translation memories, glossaries, consistent translation teams, tried and tested workflows and expertise. We run a unique, industry leading MT program for Dell.com, managed by Welocalize. If we had a fragmented approach to localization, this would not be possible. Having one division “championing” globalization and localization activities makes sense. We are the experts and we provide critical services to help our organization succeed globally.

Globalization and localization are imperative. Available in over 180 countries, Dell.com is a global e-commerce site generating billions in revenue. The more effective the localization that my team and Welocalize delivers – the more we are able to engage customers in their native language – the more revenue we generate.

It is tricky to measure the ROI of localization. Key to measuring the effectiveness of localization is to learn how to use the vast amounts of data we produce. At LocLeaders Berlin, Smith Yewell, CEO at Welocalize, talked about predictive analytics and how we can use it to identify more localization opportunities and measure localization ROI. With the ability to predict localization requirements, we can get the right resources in place to meet future demand.

The open discussions at LocLeaders Berlin were inspiring and it was refreshing to move away from the more traditional operational topics and focus on how to position the overall localization function. We have to innovate and sell our services internally, meet and influence stakeholders and see localization as a strategic function, aligned with corporate objectives.


Wayne Bourland is Director of Translation at Dell, responsible for managing the translation of Dell.com and marketing materials.