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To Localize or Not to Localize


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All global companies selling
internationally face at some
point the question of whether
they should localize their
products or not.

Before contemplating a
response to this question, and to narrow down the scope of
researching the answers, it is
essential to identify the
geographies that your company
is interested in pursuing. This
should be completely driven by
your international strategic

Since this is a strategic
question it should be dealt with
at the executive level.
Depending on the function the
person holds within a company, his or her reasoning and justifications may be entirely different. The following are different views from several

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To Localize or Not to Localize

  1. 1. “The Language of Business is the Language of the Customer” Global Vision To Localize or Not to Localize… Is this the question at hand? All global companies selling are the questions that biased in favor of English Engineering should answer first. speaking users. internationally face at some If your product is localization- point the question of whether ready, then this may be an Legal they should localize their advantage that you have over The legal department is products or not. your competition. Otherwise, always concerned about perhaps serious Engineering liability. Their main questions Before contemplating a efforts need to take place, are: “Are there any international response to this question, and to before undertaking any Asian or regulations requiring us to narrow down the scope of Middle-Eastern language localize? Are we under any researching the answers, it is localization. contractual obligations to essential to identify the localize?” Many countries are geographies that your company Marketing imposing localization is interested in pursuing. This Marketing approaches this requirements and these are should be completely driven by issue in two folds, first looking serious questions that your legal your international strategic at competition and if they are department will have to get goals. localizing their products and answers for. Again regulations second considering the value vary in different countries and Since this is a strategic localization brings to the end- guidance to what countries to question it should be dealt with user. Focussing on the different investigate will be essential. at the executive level. international end-users while What is important here is to try Depending on the function the considering localization is key. to gauge the liability that a person holds within a company, This is because in many company may have in any his or her reasoning and countries like Japan or China, country it sells into, if it does justifications may be entirely end-users require localized not meet local language different. The following are products, while in others like regulations. different views from several the Netherlands or Scandinavia, departments. localization may not be Manufacturing essential. The value of There may or may not be any Engineering localization to the end-user will logistical issues that Engineering needs to be vary and it needs to be weighted Manufacturing will have to deal consulted first. To them against other functionality, with while producing, stocking localization is a side issue. The improvements and features that or shipping localized products. real issue is internationalization. can instead be brought to the These issues are not much Is the product enabled for general product. Prioritizing different from having different double-byte and bi-directional localization vs. other product product numbers and the support? Does it handle improvement is prudent, as long possible added overhead can be different locale nuances? These as the process is not completely accounted for and dealt with.__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________GlobalVision International, Inc. 276 Turnpike Rd. MA 01581 USA Phone: (508) 616-6660
  2. 2. Sales be critical to getting the Making a Decision The Sales department is the proper answers to financially Vive la difference, as theplace where you can get justify the effort of French say. Different is healthytangible answers about the localization. since often localization costsopportunity that localization can be high and the justificationwill bring to your company. It is Also, the ultimate decision to to localize needs to present ano secret that most companies localize will have to be made for multitude of benefits to thethat localize do not do so, until specific countries, like Japan, company. If the cost to localizethey have a major international Germany and France. If a is much less than thecustomer demanding it. decision is made in favor of opportunity it creates plus the localizing for these specific liability it eliminates, then the If you ask your domestic sales countries, additional markets decision to localize is anforce, you know what the will by default be available for obvious one.answer will be. Exactly theopposite answer will come if Cost << Opportunity + Liability The need to localize mayfrom the international arm. then localize also be solely driven by legalLocalizing your product will else invest elsewhere or competitive increase international Even then, it is good to besales, and reduce the you to sell your localized aware of any other benefits orinternational support burden, products into, like for instance deterrents inside thewhile possibly distracting Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, organization to see where youcorporate from adding other and Canada… It is important can pull your resources togetherenhancements to the base that all these opportunities are or where to avoid frictionproduct. Being a tactical branch identified up front. within departments.of the company, you wouldexpect the local sales force to Finance But often the findings are notvote against localization, while Once finance has relevant data as black or white. If you are anthe international one to vote for from the field, marketing, executive of a company with ait. engineering, manufacturing and global vision, asking the above the legal department, their task questions to your appropriate This is another reason why will then be to answer: “What is staff will allow you to study theagain this issue needs to be the return on investment to relevant issues and balance thedealt at the executive level, localize to specific languages? subjective vs. objective forceswhere the VP of Sales is What are the short and long while making your decision.consulted. Rephrasing the terms impacts on the bottomquestion to: “Do you have any line?” These questions may still If your decision is forcustomers demanding a be hard to answer, but with localization, the next questionslocalized version? How much visibility in the process and will revolve around whatmore revenues can we get access to all the data, Finance localization execution strategyfrom a localized version? Are may be able to pull the numbers to pursue. A correct strategyyou willing to take on together and make a financial coupled with the rightadditional quota if we localize case for or against localization. localization process are key to athe product? What are the successful endeavor.savings in support calls?” willl Page 2