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Rebecca Ray - Follow the Money to Latin America Globalization has indeed come to the localization industry, but it remains to be seen which path we will follow. According to Rory Cowan, CEO of Lionbridge Technologies, in his keynote at the recent LISA Forum USA in Washington, D.C., localization will increasingly be recognized as part of a larger outsourcing trend and will eventually be ”featurized” within the larger framework of offshore services. The big issue over the next few years will be whether localization becomes just another feature in someone else’s offshore business, as has happened with payroll and call center functions, or whether it will be incorporated into the enterprise development model.

With more than one billion people speaking more than fourteen languages and following different customs and traditions, India is the perfect candidate for localization. The sheer number of languages alone should translate into many business opportunities for localization. Shailendra Musale, a regular contributor to the Globalization Insider, and now with Neilsoft in India, outlines the latest developments in the localization sector in that country. You may be surprised by what he has to say in Localization in India: Is the Market Ready? (premium content).

If globalization is upon us, the upside that it’s bringing to our industry is content, content and more content. But what is content today? Unstructured and growing by leaps and bounds in the form of streaming content of chunks, bits, pieces, audio, voice, etc. The good news is, that whatever format it’s in right now, it’s all just information, waiting to move onto the next medium, the next culture, the next language… all with our help as enablers. More and more companies, though still in need of some enlightenment, now understand that localization is not a necessary evil, but rather an enabler. Even United Airlines employees are advertising their linguistic skills (albeit in English) on the cocktail napkins distributed on U.S. flights now: “Our flight attendants can speak over 30 languages and dialects. Chances are, they speak yours.”

Markets evolve; while some are maturing, others are growing, and often dynamically so. It’s time to quit wringing our hands – there are opportunities galore, and trade barriers continue to fall. Presently, representatives from North and South America are negotiating the terms of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), a trade agreement that will extend the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to the entire region.

With a population of more than 500 million and 125 million households with a combined buying power of USD 1.16 trillion (trillion, not billion), compared to USD 428 billion for the 10.7 million households in the United States [source: August 2003, The Importance Of Being Latin America, Latin America is truly the “sleeping giant” right under our noses (at least for those of us residing in North America) that Michael Cardenas describes in his article of the same title (premium content). While the U.S. and other western markets are expected to grow about 6% annually, International Data Corporation (IDC) sees Latin America's growth rate averaging a sizzling 16% annually. It’s anticipated that some of those countries may even grow as much as 20% per year.

Is outsourcing alive and well in Latin America? You bet it is. Teddy Bengtsson, Founding Partner and CEO of Idea Factory Languages, describes how his new company is taking advantage of the outsourcing capabilities in Latin America to serve the rest of the world in Riding the Next Wave: Outsourcing to Latin America (premium content).

Whatever your view on the future may be, what is clear is that no one, client or service provider, has the option now to continue doing business as in the past. Now is the time to pick an issue and actively support it. Peter Siegrist, Co-founder and former CEO of the STAR Group and now an angel investor, has decided to do this through becoming one of LISA’s new Executive Advisory Board members. You can read about his views on the future and why he believes that it’s important to give back to LISA, and to the industry in general, in Spotlight: Hanspeter Siegrist.

You can contribute through:

  1. supporting industry standards (TMX, TBX, XLIFF, TWS or the LISA QA Model);
  2. making appointments with your top three customers to discuss what they perceive as their unmet needs for this year;
  3. providing the appropriate training for your staff through LISA workshops (in Silicon Valley);
  4. supporting industry ethics;
  5. educating yourself about the semantic web (LISA members can access Leo Obrst's presentation from Washington D.C. on the Semantic Web here) and the newest developments in voice applications (LISA members can access presentations on voice globalization here);
  6. choosing an issue that LISA should be tackling, but isn’t, and contacting Michael Anobile to volunteer your solution and your time. You can read about what LISA’s Managing Director has to say about where the association is headed during 2004 with its new board, its new strategic alliances and its nexus strategy in his Letter From the Director.

Pick up the phone, dash off an email and get busy!

Our first issue of the year would not be complete without John Freivalds’ opinions. Check out what he has to say about China, the CIA’s new venture capital group and new funding for machine translation in his latest Money Talks (premium content).

On a housekeeping note, as per the results of our recent Readership Survey, the Globalization Insider will be published once a month from now on. And keep your eyes and ears open for news on new publications that will soon be available from LISA.

A peaceful and prosperous New Year to all of you, or as Chevy Chase would say in Turkish, “Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun!”

Reprinted by permission from the Globalization Insider,
15 January 2004, Volume XIII, Issue 1.1.

Copyright the Localization Industry Standards Association
(Globalization Insider:, LISA:
and S.M.P. Marketing Sarl (SMP) 2004

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