The findings of a pioneering research study that examines the localisation practices of multinational corporations have been released
It examines how well they are adapting to countries, cultures, and languages.
To obtain a cross-sectional view from various organisational departments about each company’s localisation practices, the study surveyed international business managers, localisation managers, e-business managers, web-content managers, IT managers, and marketing managers within Fortune 500 companies with a multi-national presence.
According to two reports that summarise the research findings, ‘The Strategic Role of Localization in Multinational Enterprises’, and ‘Current Web Globalization Practices: An Industry Analysis’ - there is a gap in the perceived and actual importance multinational corporations place on localisation of their software, websites, and products for international markets.
CEO and Managing Director of Conversis Gary Muddyman, who co-authored the research findings, said, “Companies are talking the talk when it comes to recognising the importance of localising their products and websites, unfortunately, they are not walking the walk.
”The majority of corporations are ill prepared to expand globally and until they put a premium on localisation, their expansion into global markets will fail.”
By means of example, 80 per cent of the senior management surveyed considered localisation a strategic priority, but the resources allotted are not relatively proportional to the strategic importance placed on localisation.
More than half of the respondents only allocate between one and five per cent of their budget to localisation and translation services.
More importantly, these companies see global trade – and their target markets in the next three to five years - increasing with countries like China, Japan and India.
Yet an assessment of these companies’ websites shows they have only localised for the primary European markets such as France, Germany and Spain, detailing an inconsistent mindset for multinational companies today.
According to Nitish Sing, Ph.D., Associate Professor at California State University at Chico, companies that are relying solely on English speaking customers will miss out on the rapid expansion of global e-commerce.
He said, “More than half of the world’s internet users don’t live in the United States. They speak different languages, use different currencies and have very different preferences and tastes than their American counterparts.
“The number of non-English speaking internet users has tripled since 2000, and businesses can no longer afford to stay domestic as their next business competitor could come from any part of the world.”
According to the U.K. Department of Trade and Industry, there are 20 official languages within the EU alone and more than 1 billion euros are spent each year on translation services.
Unfortunately even with this growing need for quality translation, too many translation companies lack an understanding of marketing and are only set up to translate original copy, word-for-word, into foreign text.
Muddyman added, “Entering the strong e-commerce market within key regions of the EU requires more than just simply translating your products and websites, you must have a complete cultural understanding.
“Entering by the way of localisation will assure that companies yield a healthy ROI.”
Research on Localisation Practices was conducted by the Localisation Program at California State University at Chico together with Conversis.
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