Welocalize Guide to the Global Localization Industry

Guide to the Global Localization IndustryThere is a growing demand for outsourced language services worldwide. Welocalize is one of the world’s leading providers of localization and translation services. We are ranked as the 4th largest language service provider in the United States and 9th largest provider in the world, according to Common Sense Advisory (CSA). There are an estimated 18,000 language service providers, both single language and multilingual. That means you have many choices.

To help organizations navigate the industry and go global, we want to share our industry expertise and give you a quick guide to the global localization industry.

Why Localize?

Adapting brands, products and services to reach an international customer is essential for global success. Each product, whether sold to individual consumers (B2C) or business buyers (B2B), require a plethora of communications in the form of published content, including instruction manuals, websites and user interfaces, marketing and promotional materials, packaging, legal and compliance documentation, technical information, digital media, customer help and much more. To effectively reach your intended audience, your content has to be consumable and understood by your target. You need to have a local strategy to truly go global.

Although many consumers will research in the English language and buy English language products, business buyers strongly favor local language websites and products. Even imperfect localization meets the needs of many business buyers. According to the Common Sense Advisory (CSA) Report “Why Localization Matters for Corporate Buyers,” 51% of business buyers would buy a product with poor-quality localization instead of English. Translated product reviews – and nothing else translated – provide significant help in the decision making process for 75% of business buyers. Failure to localize your content, dramatically reduces your reach and can hurt your prospects of growing your business in different locales around the world.

How Big is the Language Services Market?

According CSA, the 2015 market for outsourced language services and supporting technology is US$38.16 billion. It is growing at an annual rate of 6.46%.  To remain competitive in the world economy, language services is a top priority in any globalization strategy.

Where Do Localization Managers Start?

Global organizations need to identify those local markets and customers who require content in local languages,. The next step is to audit and prioritize their content based on the potential global reach and target audience. Organizations sometimes make the mistake of not translating all the content that will be distributed across boundaries and into different geographic regions. This can slow down sales results and impact revenues. The question to never ask, doesn’t everyone speak English? There are more than 7,000 spoken languages in the world.  It is estimated that a business can reach the majority of global consumers in 12 to 29 languages, depending on the statistical source. What languages are top priority for you and your business?

As recommended by your peers in the industry, localization managers must make a good business case for translation and localization to internal stakeholders, based on data, analytics, knowledge of local markets and how content is consumed. Make sure this knowledge and any subsequent localization strategy is linked to corporate objectives and goals. For example, if a company goal is to grow globally in BRIC countries, investment in localization will aid any revenue generating activity targeted at new, emerging geographical markets. Further Reading: Seven Tips to Evangelize Localization at Your Company.

As localization and translation is often an outsourced service, a key component for success is partnering with the right language service provider (LSP). A good LSP will be expert at “going global” and reaching local markets. They will need to have the right knowledge and experience based on industry, content type, service offerings and capabilities based on your specific requirements.  It is essential rely on experts who have a qualified and vetted network and connections to provide the best talent within a given supply chain to meet your specific requirements. Further Reading: What is Your Localization Strategy Missing to Succeed?

What Criteria do Your Peers Use in Evaluating Language Service Providers?

Welocalize surveyed hundreds of localization buyers to learn their top 10 criteria for choosing a language service provider.  Each participant chose their top three criteria and the results are summarized below:

Welocalize Client Survey Results Presentation 6-10-2014

What Should You Look for in a Language Service Provider?

All of the above criteria are extremely important.  You need to find the best match for your defined business needs and requirements. Scope, reach and flexibility does matter. Equally important is the proven experience to work with multiple stakeholders in a business to help them achieve their specific business objectives. Speed and quality are always expected with predictable results from a top service provider.  It is very important that your partner can work with you to align your program to business outcomes. This provides the winning formula for a great partnership.  The provider needs to be solutions focused, looking for solving business challenges that are not expected today. It’s about being proactive. Transparency is fundamental to any great relationship and provides you the opportunity to win – together!

If you want global reach, then your primary LSP must have the ability to target the right resources with speed and agility to serve your current and future demands – for all your target markets and languages Products and services must be adapted to local markets and they also need to be adapted to different industry sectors, audience types and content types. For example, the US-manufacturing sector may differ dramatically from Northern Europe. As well as the obvious differences in language and culture, there will also be different legislation, standards and buyer habits across local industries. It’s a collective and complex matrix that a qualified language service provider can manage for you, if they have the right level of experience and expertise.  A proven localization provider will have the relevant experience to understand and adapt to all geographic and industry differences.

In addition to the top 10 list above, here are what Welocalize’s defines as must-have characteristics for choosing a localization partner:


Further Resources for Buyers of Localization Services

As well as talking to your LSP, there are a number of good global industry resources to help you understand localization, translation, interpreting and associated technology.

  • Common Sense Advisory: Independent research firm, publishing market research for global 2000 companies on best practices in translation, localization, interpreting, internationalization and globalization. www.commonsenseadvisory.com
  • Globalization and Translation Association (GALA): A non-profit membership organization and the world’s leading trade association for the language industry. www.gala-global.org
  • TAUS: An independent think tank and resource center for the global translation industry. Join us in October in Washington, DC and San Jose at the upcoming TAUS events. www.taus.net
  • Multilingual Magazine: Published each month, Multilingual is a good information resource relating to language and business. It covers a wide range of topics relevant to the language industry and what it takes to take your product international.
  • Welocalize LocLeaders Magazine. Welocalize hosts peer-to-peer collaboration events for senior decision-makers involved in globalization. The Welocalize LocLeaders Forum main events, held in Europe and North America, enables clients and colleagues to openly discuss key topics relating to localization. In follow-up to our two primary events, we publish an e-magazine which summarizes the thoughts and opinions of those who attended. Click here to see the Welocalize e-magazine for LocLeaders Berlin.
  • Localization World Conferences. The LocWorld events are great opportunities to engage with your peers to learn industry trends and address different needs and challenges.  Welocalize is a sponsor of these events and will be in Silicon Valley at the next LocWorld in October. www.locworld.com

If you have any questions about the localization industry or choosing a LSP, simply drop me a line at louise.law@welocalize.com


Louise Law is Global Communications Manager at Welocalize