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2007, Q2 (July 29, 2007)
By Sharmila M. Govindarajan

Sharmila M. Govindarajan
Sharmila M. Govindarajan
Editor's Note: The following article was written by a student in the Duke University Continuing Studies Technical Communication Certificate program. This paper was submitted as her final project to complete the program.

Defining globalization

Globalization involves the process to adapt a company’s product and message to meet the varied expectations of markets around the world. The following globalization processes enable the development and design of a global site:
  • Internationalization process separates the technical components of a Web site shared across regional sites from that which are region specific. The process involves preparing back-end technologies that support global website features thus prevents the need to duplicate systems, and enables the reuse of technology when developing new sites.
  • Translation involves the process of reproducing the text from one language to another. Effective translation accounts for differences in sentence structure or idiomatic expressions but does not alter the substance of the content.
  • Localization process adapts all aspects of a Web site to meet the specific needs and preferences of a target market. The process of localization includes not just language translation but also the broader content and design concerns.

  • Content — To address the interests and needs of local users, provide information, promotional elements, and marketing campaigns that target the local market.
  • Language — Localize text for the specific market taking into account the regional variants of the same language. Literal translation can change the meaning of the content and hence it is important to translate sensitively for that particular market.
  • Design — The global design strategy requires flexibility to accommodate adjustments for the local culture’s tastes and understanding.
  • Legal information — Disclaimers, privacy policies, and copyright information must adhere to local market regulations and laws.
  • Cultural and social factors — Sensitivity to cultural tradition is important to avoid alienating the target market.

Advantages of globalization

Companies choose to globalize their products for the following reasons:
  • To attract new customers — Globalization builds a large, loyal customer base around the world.
  • To acquire global branding — Globalization provides a powerful and inexpensive method to communicate corporate messaging and branding with existing and new audiences.
  • To reduce cost — Implementing a centralized globalization strategy often costs less than supporting many expensive individual efforts at regional levels.
  • To have market penetration — Companies can pursue foreign market share by allowing online transactions or building an online community in an international market.
  • To have competitive agility — Companies pursue global expansion to stay ahead of rivals or try to overtake competition by beating them to new international markets.
  • To provide worldwide customer service — Customer service features offered in various languages help differentiate a company as well as build loyalty and cut support costs.

Identification and prioritization of markets

To enter markets for globalization, first evaluate the firm’s global and local business goals then establish a globalization strategy and adapt common global objectives appropriate for local markets.

Factors that determine the market for globalization
Use the following factors to determine which markets to enter for globalization:
  • Established presence — Globalization in a market where the company already does considerable business allows it to leverage existing partnerships and resources.
  • Traffic flow — Determine how much online traffic comes from foreign locations to serve as an indicator of which markets to enter.
  • Demographic profile — Examine a markets potential by the number of consumers, and their relative purchasing power
  • Technology penetration — Identify the ability and willingness of customers to interact with a company:
    • By analyzing the penetration of PC, TV’s, cable TV, and mobile phones and Internet access capability.
    • By tracking e-commerce revenue trends that reflect the platforms and the connection speeds through which companies might successfully initiate contact.
  • Regulatory openness — Track local policies for taxation and privacy to uncover potential obstacles to expanding e-business across borders.

Best practices for successful globalization

Companies that have successfully implemented a globalization project adopted the following best practices:
  1. Identify key markets and fully localize the digital initiative.
    • Identify the need for translation or localization of the site and the business case that justifies the cost of localizing.
    • After you determine the appropriate markets implement thorough localization across different languages. Failure to do so reduces the value proposition to the end user and risks alienating the targeted customer.
  2. Implement a strong organizational structure dedicated to globalization.
    • Implement the right organizational structure and decision-making process in place.
    • Establish a dedicated team to manage the globalization process effectively.
    • Secure the necessary financial commitment from senior management by prioritizing globalization.
    • Involve key stakeholders and local business units to ensure buy-in and facilitate project progress.
  3. Manage technology and design centrally, and create content locally.
    • Avoid costly investments at the regional level when launching in new locations by reusing technology infrastructure and by managing technology centrally.
    • Yield consistent branding across all local sites by managing design centrally.
    • Create regional content that matches corporate messaging and brand attributes.
    • To ensure that content is relevant to the end user, leverage important information that only local business can provide and create content locally.
  4. Evaluate and integrate tools to help manage the process.
    • Understand the human steps involved in the process.
    • Determine the issues and anticipate potential pitfalls before purchasing and integrating tools.



Sharmila Govindarajan can be reached at sharmila123_in at yahoo dot com. End of article.

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