Six Game Changers in Globalization and Localization

Derek McCann LocLeaders 2015 twoDerek McCann recently joined the Welocalize senior leadership team, having spent more than 20 years successfully managing many Microsoft localization programs and most recently, as head of  localization for Microsoft Windows®.  At the Welocalize LocLeaders Forum 2015 event, held at the Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, Derek was a featured guest speaker, sharing his views on the topic of Game Changers in Globalization. In this blog, he details some of the significant and disruptive influences that are shaping the industry today and in the future.

We recently finished a busy week of localization events in Santa Clara. For me, it was the first time I had taken part at the Localization World conference and Welocalize LocLeaders events as a supplier of language services. Having spent so many years in the industry at Microsoft, on the buyer-side, I was in a really advantageous position when I spoke to the crowd at the Welocalize LocLeaders event. We had localization professionals from so many global brands in the room, I had a good idea what might be going through their minds and some insight into some of the frustrations and delights they were experiencing with their globalization and localization programs.

LocLeaders 2015 threeJoining Welocalize gives me opportunity to bring fresh perspective into the industry. Welocalize has great personality and a sense of humor. We’re not just pushing the sales agenda, we want to deliver great experience and continue to build great values within our clients and employees. It’s a growing company with a small company mentality. We will grow with our global brand clients and have the honest conversations, not deliver a magical (and undeliverable) sales pitch. And to grow, we have to embrace change. We’ve hit a point of inflection within the localization industry. Nothing bad has happened; however, localization needs have changed. It’s not just about words and volumes anymore, it’s  about a set of localization services to offer to our clients, with the emphasis on customer experience and really considering customer sentiment. We have to deliver customer-centric value and experience to ensure our client’s needs are met.

To embrace this change, we have to consider the following “Game Changer” approaches and strategies in localization.

#1 – GAME CHANGER: TRANSLATION AND LOCALIZATION IS NOT A UTILITY. We are working in an environment which is no longer just about words or even volumes. It’s about customer experience, measuring customer sentiment, changing technology, new content types, emerging markets and evolving customer demand. They are all impacting the way we localize. With the growth of the Internet, it is relatively easy to grow and trade globally, build an international presence. Global brands achieve that by offering a brand experience, not a homogenous product. In many cases today, the buyer of localization services is looking for a partnership. This is a partnership that can solve problems. A partnership that can create solutions and not a set of menus that they can chose from, but real solutions from trusted partners.

#2 – GAME CHANGER: MT IS PART OF OUR LIVES. At the LocLeaders event, I talked about the “MT-pilot.” Piloting is an over-used word in our industry. MT has arrived. It’s an essential part of our lives and part of our programs – now. It is an extremely good tool to deal with huge volumes of content. The only piloting needed is implementation piloting. Sometimes it does need post-editing; however, for tackling the rise of low impact content, like user-generated content (UGC), it is perfect. We shouldn’t be piloting MT, we should just be doing it. Too much human intervention slows things down. Automation of the translation workflow keeps content and data flowing.

#3 – GAME CHANGER: BE AGILE. Having worked for many years in the software industry, I have witnessed a great revolution in how we build, develop and distribute technology and software. Historically, we may have built a product (source and localized version), with a release due every two-three years. That schedule no longer meets the needs of our hungry end-users. THERE IS NO BIG RELEASE DATE! Technology providers deliver constant iterations in a “trickle” approach. Waterfall is out, agile development is in. New features, patches, updates and bug fixes – end users want these automatically downloaded to their device with localized versions being sent out simultaneously. Agile software development needs an agile approach in localization. Small packages of content released rapidly and continuously into the translation workflow is the new velocity in the technology space.

#4 – GAME CHANGER: OUR END-USERS TALK FREELY. In complex localization programs, errors do occur. When they occur, your end-users will talk openly, freely and loudly about them. One tiny error in a translated string or a broken or non-global  feature in localized software could soon go viral through posts on social media or industry forums. End-users love to talk about their experiences with products and services and with the use of the Internet and mobile technology, they can talk about your product anytime, anywhere to anyone all over the world. Not only do global brands need to avoid negatively impacting the customer experience, they also need to know and hear what people are saying about them. Monitoring social media output is a new emerging area for many global brands. This is another area where MT is a key tool. MT with light post-editing can help organization understand what is being said about them and also increase the reach of positive social media to other geographies by publishing translated reviews and posts. End-users speak early and often. We need to listen to them.

#5 – GAME CHANGER: BIG DATA. This was a big discussion topic that carried on throughout LocLeaders and at LocWorld29. The general consensus was that we have a deluge of data, though very few people know how to manage and use data to help make intelligent business and localization decisions. Data means nothing if you can’t base any decisions on it. A good dashboard helps present data in a way where you can make decisions and as a language service provider, we need to empower our clients with technology to ensure their localization data is presented in a way that works and that our translators have access to the information. At Welocalize, we want to build that muscle and give data real meaning.

#6 – GAME CHANGER: THE SUPPLY CHAIN AND IN-CONTEXT REVIEW. The needs of the translation supply chain has evolved. To simply do blind translations is no longer sufficient. Translators, linguists and reviewers are brand ambassadors. They need to learn more about the context of the content. Content is not king, context is king. By providing the supply chain with information about the content, products and company, this will empower translators. The translation supply chain needs a higher level of humility and attention to changing buyer priorities. This will be driven by changing perceptions and providing further efficiency in the translation technology workflow, giving the right people access to the right information.

Derek McCann, Vice President at WelocalizeMy first LocLeaders event was a great experience where I saw many old friends and made new ones. I feel Welocalize is equally committed to making change happen and not just talk about it. I’m excited to be part of a team who will influence change in the industry, taking us to a place where we can go beyond what we all expect.


Based in the US, Derek joined Welocalize in September 2015 to direct the Western US Sales and Operations teams. Read more: