An Emerging Giant in the Global L10n Arena
With its notoriously laid-back population and its stunning landscape, Rio de Janeiro might not seem like a major center for localization. But what many CSN readers don’t know is that Rio de Janeiro has long positioned itself as a hub of talented and specialized localization engineers, developers, and project managers—all with extensive experience in complex multilingual projects.
Some ten years ago, major localization companies, including LMI, BGS, and SimulTrans decided to venture into Brazil by opening offices in Rio de Janeiro. During that time, those pioneers have trained hundreds of resources to become expert professionals in the field.
Those companies chose Brazil—and Rio de Janeiro in particular—for a reason.
SOUTH AMERICAN WAY
With its European past, dating back to the arrival of the Spaniards and Portuguese, and with an educational system and business philosophy similar to that of the US, South America is a place where executives feel at home when doing business abroad. Over recent years, the region has pushed away the non-democratic past of the 1960s and 1970s, and it is thriving with business opportunities.
Also, geographically, the continent is perfectly located to meet the needs of North American companies, whether they are located on the East or West Coast.
What most attracts multinationals, however, is perhaps the reduced cost of skilled labor. This is especially true for the main technology companies, which have been investing in Latin America, primarily Brazil, at an ever-increasing rate. Brazilian professionals offer top-notch services at a fraction of the price when compared to their colleagues in the Northern hemisphere—an attractive pull in an era marked by industry cost cutting.
BRAZIL, THE EMERGING GIANT
Another important factor in the country’s favor is its political and economic stability. Unlike many of its Latin American neighbors, Brazil has maintained a democratically elected government for nearly 20 years. Such stability has helped improve the country’s economic outlook, a strong factor for executives when it comes to international investment and outsourcing targets.
According to economist and former director of the Brazilian Central Bank, Ilan Goldjfan, “In the current trend of foreign accounts, and while the international status is maintained, it is likely that in the next presidential term, Brazil will come to liquidate its net foreign debt, will drop the so-called ‘Brazil Risk’ and will reach investment grade.”
Additionally, Brazil’s continental proportions and successful diplomacy make it a leader in the South American region.
Together with other international giants like Russia, India, and China, Brazil is part of the BRIC group, named after a 2003 thesis by the Goldman Sachs investment bank. According to the paper, these rapidly developing economies will eclipse most of the world’s currently richest countries by 2050. The four countries will encompass over 40 percent of the world’s population and, due to their embrace on global capitalism, will hold an approximate combined sum of 15 trillion dollars.
Brazil also became an important technology hub after major IT corporations started to include the country in their internationalization strategies. For example, earlier this year, IBM’s consulting division decided to open a new development center. The plan includes investing (US)$100 million and hiring 1,500 local professionals.
Following this trend, SAP also plans to expand its current consulting team in Latin America. SAP’s target is to educate 10,000 new professionals and recycle yet another 10,000 consultants. Half of these 20,000 new resources are Brazilian.
Additionally, Intel Brasil recorded a 70-percent increase in units sold in 2005. They expect to achieve the same growth in 2006. And sales for Dell in the last fiscal year grew 84 percent in Brazil. Dell’s next closest region, China, was 24 percent.
RIO, LOCALIZATION HUB
In the late 1990s, the largest MLVs of our industry chose Rio de Janeiro for their operation centers in Brazil (sometimes serving Latin America as a whole). Most of the companies offered their employees extensive training, transforming the wide assortment of competent translators into full-fledged localizers. Later on, some of them became project managers and joined the wealth of other professionals with different educational backgrounds, including linguistics, IT, business administration, graphic design, and more. The access to such assorted teams allowed these companies to reap the benefits of extremely competent and talented professionals.
Add to that a characteristic that is intrinsic to the Brazilian people: adaptability. In such a multicultural country—often called “the real melting pot”—it is necessary to adapt to the various circumstances that permeate one’s personal and professional life.
When once asked whether planning, as opposed to improvisation, was the distinguishing factor between an adventurer and a responsible professional, Brazilian sailor and corporate speaker, Amyr Klink, answered that, even after careful planning, the capacity to improvise still played a major role.
Such flexibility and professionalism made Rio-based managers an attractive choice, even to the clients whose accounts they managed. In fact, many of the Rio-trained managers now occupy important positions abroad.
Some of those who remained in Brazil seized the opportunity to open small operations, which have been growing in size ever since. They now offer linguistic, DTP, engineering, testing, and multimedia services. These vendors, together with an ample offering of experienced freelance resources, work for different MLVs in the region and worldwide.
Rio de Janeiro is also home to the majority of the country’s educational and professional industry entities. The Brazilian Translator’s Association (ABRATES) and the Brazilian Translator’s Union (SINTRA) are both headquartered in the city. The Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio), one of the most prominent universities in Brazil, also offers undergraduate and graduate courses in the field. The result is an environment brimming with some of the country’s best localization professionals.
THE MILENGO GPM CENTER
At milengo (www.milengo.com), we recently felt the need to meet the growing demand from clients in the United States and Canada for highly qualified global project management. Brazil offered the advantage of its privileged time zone, allowing milengo to quickly respond to client demands. In September 2006, milengo opened our new Global Project Management (GPM) Center in Rio de Janeiro.
For milengo, it was clear that Rio de Janeiro was the most attractive choice for its GPM operations. The recent merger between Lionbridge and Bowne Global Solutions, plus their move to Sao Paulo, resulted in a surplus of some of the best-qualified resources in the industry. This is particularly the case for Global Project Managers. In the golden era of localization, they had been trained to use management techniques, including negotiation, conflict resolution, and communication skills. Coupled with the fact that they all come from the production side, they have the necessary experience to successfully serve IT corporations of different sizes and with different requirements.
Resource management is perhaps the greatest strength of any company. Simply put, you know the strengths, competencies, and weaknesses of each person you plan on hiring. In our case, we have worked with many of them for the past years, and we know whom to turn to when offering value-added services to our clients.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Cassius Figueiredo is the head of the milengo GPM Center. An industry veteran with over 10 years of experience, Figueiredo previously worked as Senior Project Manager at Lionbridge Technologies. He also has worked as a software developer, technical reviewer, and content creator.
Adam Blau is the Vice President of Marketing and Sales at milengo. He is responsible for managing milengo’s global operations, plus sales and marketing in North America and Europe.
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