E.g., 03/31/2020
E.g., 03/31/2020

Enterprise Globalization: Where Do You Start?

By: George Chew (Amway)

05 December 2013

GALAxy Q4 Guest Editor, George Chew, a senior localization specialist at Amway, introduces readers to the concept of Enterprise Globalization: a plan of action for global communication efficiency. 

Let’s assume you are new to localization, internationalization, globalization, or simply the world of translation. You have come to the right article! Perhaps you have heard of these buzz terms before but still wonder how they come together and contribute to some of the best products, user experiences, and global brands we enjoy today.

Before we dive into the steps of an enterprise globalization “how-to,” let me explain in a quick and simple way how these industry buzz words connect to one another:

  • Translation. The core of it all, performed by qualified linguists, is the art of converting text with equivalent meaning into another language.
  • Localization. To make translated text usable in the target market, we must include considerations such as culture, legalese, currency, etc.; this process is described as localization.
  • Internationalization. An effective localization process that saves time and cost should include internationalization right from the start, by generalizing source text such as removing jargon and slang, and by preparing software codes to allow easy handling of non-traditional characters, formatting and foreign operation systems.
  • Globalization. For the purpose of this article, globalization is the inclusive, strategic approach to bringing all of the above to life in a systematic, efficient and controlled environment within an enterprise, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) included.

That said, we should also clarify that, in the context of this article the term “enterprise globalization” is the strategic movement or organization of an enterprise to go global.

By now, I hope the word “enterprise globalization” does not sound too foreign to you and perhaps the scope of the idea is already shaping up in your head. Good! We are heading in the right direction. The rest of this article we will focus on how to establish a “go-to” person or team within your organization for all things translation, localization, internationalization, and ultimately globalization. Please bear in mind that this isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” solution to all business scenarios, but rather a systematic approach to kick-start an exciting journey, particularly within a large size enterprise. I have organized key activities into 5 tracks. Let’s go!

Track 1: Spend time studying the needs, demands, challenges and regulations within your landscape. Two attributes are key here: be patient, and be observant. Spend time understanding your organization, its products, sales process, customers, corporate values, visions, long term strategic plans, reporting structure, politics (yes, politics), who are the key decision makers (including their backgrounds and business focus). You also need to start harvesting some useful data. For example: identify vendors, internal buyers, current processes, cost, volume, etc.- whatever inputs have been associated with past translation, localization, and internationalization activities. Partnering with the procurement department is a good idea.

How important is Quality Assurance in your program?  Katell Jentreau explains this and more in “Don't Despair: It's Only QA.”

Track 2: Craft a plan with a look to the future. After understanding the enterprise landscape and data, you need to come up with a plan. What is it that you want to accomplish? What values would be added by your actions? How will this impact future sales and customer experience? What do you recommend the new process to be? What financial commitment do you require and envision? How many people do you need to hire? How long will it take? The questions can go on and on. It is smart to “think big but start small.”This will allow you to scale fast. Organize your plan into a 3-year road map with manageable, detailed, and concrete milestones. Define how you want to measure your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and how you want to demonstrate Return on Investment (ROI). Use the data you harvested to build your business case, benchmark for KPIs, and to showcase the potential of your plan.  Ensure your road map aligns with your vision. Get passionate about your vision!

Want to learn more about how to build a successful globalization program and establish agreements with colleagues around the world?  Read Luciana Vecchi’s article “On the Role of Globalization Professionals.”

Track 3: Build your team and pursue executive sponsorships.  Keep socializing your vision of an effective globalization team and its values with your colleagues as well as with key decision makers upstream. Draw positive connections to corporate values, strategic business objectives and product or customer experience improvements. Be open and candid about your intentions, creative positive impressions, and accept honest feedback. The key is to connect your passion with other’s passions, tailor your conversation in a way that others can relate to and so they can appreciate your vision (think about their backgrounds and business focus). Win more executive attention and sponsorship through circles of influence. Be prepared to pitch your ideas at any given opportunity and be ready to deliver those ideas both quantitatively and qualitatively. Gather together those contacts who show positive reaction, keep them close and they will be your steering committee to help sing your tune.

Learn more about how to make the transition from translator to globalizer and how to establish great teams in “Five Secrets to Becoming a ‘Rockalizer’: the New Corporate Change Agent,” by Anna Schlegel.”

Track 4: Formalize your presence.  Establish your team formally within the enterprise as a center of excellence in the form of a department, a shared service office, a program or a group of experts. Treat your center of excellence as a “brand” with consistent communication of the vision and with clear value messaging. Understand that the brand is important and should be managed carefully. Your sponsors, steering committee, internal clients and partners should be proud to be associated with your brand. Create a centralized go-to location center on the web or intranet for KPI reporting, request processing, team collaborations, resource and knowledge sharing. Be accessible and easy to locate.

Youngmin Jeong explains how to establish internationalization in a corporate culture in her article, “Embedding Internationalization Into Corporate Thinking.”

Track 5: Embark on a journey of globalization evangelization. Many successful globalization stories have one thing in common – persistence. It is important to revisit Track 1-4 often. Always be aware of the current environmental landscape. Be sure to stay on track with your road map and keep sharing your vision. Keep your supporters close to you and engage constantly in an open dialogue with your critics by sharing your successes and KPI reports. Provide value-added experience when engaging with your “brand” and be accessible.

It is important to understand how to navigate within a given corporate culture. Stay flexible and react quickly to different situations that can come your way. Make your passion known while making meaningful connections with your vision. Celebrate every milestone and win, large or small!

Lastly, consider your peers in the industry as a wealth of knowledge and resources – don’t underestimate the support you will receive when you open yourself up about the challenges in your journey. Suddenly, you won’t feel so alone anymore.

Good luck!

George Chew is the Guest Editor for this issue of GALAxy.  He manages strategy and operations at the Amway Localization Center at Amway world headquarters. He supports the global management system, QA, vendor-client management, global L10n operations and onboarding. George also focuses on process consolidations and enhancements while driving partnerships and enterprise adoptions. George has 10 years' experience in hospitality, localization, business systems and process, with a strong project management background. George also enjoys traveling and world cuisines.