People Challenges that can Make or Break Content Globalization

People Challenges that can Make or Break Content Globalization

I do a lot of consulting with my clients about how to deploy technology and optimize processes to improve content globalization. But, at the end of the day, so often it comes down to the people factor that makes or breaks your localization efforts. Let’s take a look at some examples from a panel discussion I ran recently at a seminar entitled “Big League Strategies for Website Globalization" we held at Levi’s Stadium (home of the San Francisco 49ers football team).

Creativity in translation

Finding the right combination of skills and knowledge is a challenge I hear about frequently from customers. Katell Jentreau, Localization Language and Vendor Manager from Netflix, was a panelist at the seminar and she related how challenging it is for Netflix to find translators who can go beyond linguistic accuracy and exercise creativity as they localize. Netflix has bold international expansion goals. Website descriptions and graphics promoting the content must be localized to compel global subscribers to stream each program. Linguists must localize marketing content, video trailers and even program titles and names of characters.

It all must be culturally appealing to every local audience, so transcreation rather than direct translation is often the norm. We see this in other customers for whom it is key to hit just the right “voice" in each country. At Netflix, their top preference for translators is for native-language speakers who are experienced writers — for example, people with a journalistic or scriptwriting background. Furthermore they want to recruit translators who have a real love for TV and movies.

→ Read more about Transcreation and how it differs from Translation

Finding such skills takes time and expertise to judge the linguistic, cultural and creative aptitudes of candidates. A localization partner with a significant in-house network of experienced transcreation specialists and many years of recruiting experience in each local translation community can be key to success.

Building bridges to connect global & local objectives

Loy Searle, Intuit’s Director, Globalization Center of Excellence, was another panelist at the seminar. She talked about recruiting team members with the right combination of technology knowledge and localization knowledge. But recruits also need to exhibit good people skills and the ability to build relationships across a matrixed organization. Globalization team members often work with local marketing staff to review and deploy localized content. This is typically a friction point in the localization process. There is a natural tension where global content strategy must mesh with local priorities, and there is an opportunity for the globalization team to ease that friction. Many organizations develop a “push-pull" model where the highest priority corporate content is pushed to local geos, and some is left up to local geos to pull if they want it, so that they don’t force all content onto the local teams. The globalization team members can help local marketers find the right balance of collaboration and shared ownership in order to achieve collective success.

Local geos frequently have marketing agencies they work with, so for the globalization team, it’s important to get into that relationship early to be part of the local process and to share information like terminology and style guides. A global LSP with in-country translation offices may already work with the agency and can be helpful in facilitating collaboration.

All our panelists talked about how important it is to work very closely with adjacent teams, both upstream and downstream, to accomplish globalization goals. All parts of the company need to think globally and locally. The politics of that differs in every company. The globalization team often acts as an ombudsman for the profession, working with everyone, to do heavy lifting globally upstream and meaningful work locally. In order to do that effectively, globalization team members with the necessary people skills should be actually tasked with and measured on driving successful collaboration. It’s not enough to do it once – it is a continuous process that needs to be repeated regularly, to match the pace of business in the organization. At SDL, we frequently work with customers to train globalization staff, content creators, and recipients of localized content on best practices, efficient workflow, and good teamwork.

Having a plan for these key people challenges is important for globalization success. Talk to your SDL relationship manager for more information on our transcreation services, in-country market expertise and our support for centralized globalization.

Image source: Pixabay