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Globalization Market Overview

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The unstoppable pace of globalization coupled with the growth of the Internet have fundamentally changed the way that enterprises do business. The Web, in particular, is creating a low-cost global platform for communicating and doing business with people in countries far away from the bricks and mortar headquarters of organisations.

But, while everyone understands the concept of globalization and the advantages of reaching out to new markets, there is less understanding of the importance of localizing or adapting the content or the product to meet the linguistic, cultural and other requirements of a target market. As competition increases, so does the need for communications content to attract, entice and engage the target audience in an appropriate manner for the locale.

The amount of English content on the Web is dropping year on year - from 87 per cent in 2000 to 70 per cent in 2002 - and it is predicted that Chinese will become the dominant language on the Web. By 2005, it is estimated that only a third of all Internet users worldwide will be English speakers. Despite this, over 96 per cent of all e-commerce websites are currently only available in English. Statistics also indicate that a customer is twice as likely to stay on a website and four times more likely to purchase goods or services if the site is in his or her native language.

Globalization and localization should function together as companies develop globally. Localization should not be seen as an afterthought every time that a business makes the decision to move into a new market. It should be part of the globalization strategy from the beginning as it can make or break a global business strategy. It will also take twice as long and cost twice as much to implement later.

Service and product globalization - what do we really mean?

Globalization = Internationalization + Localization

Internationalization: The process of making something localization-friendly - i.e. ensuring that it does not have to be re-engineered or redesigned to cope with different languages and regions.

Localization: The adaptation of a product or service to the needs of a local market/territory - i.e. making sure that it conveys the information and works effectively, legally and suitably in the local culture.

A key (but only one) element of localization is good translation which is the baseline for effective communications and a critical component of a company's introduction into a new market.

Localization cost breakdown

Translation is only part of the total cost of localization as is demonstrated by the chart below which is based on two years' accumulation of data from Wordbank marcoms localization projects.

Localization cost breakdown

Depending on the media and the file type, other components such as file handling, formatting, project management and local approval can account for a greater proportion of the total costs than translation. The main message of the chart is that localization budgets should not be built solely on the costs of translation which typically only account for 40 per cent of the total costs involved in localization.

It is also worth noting that the application of strongly promoted translation technologies such as translation memories and machine translation can only really make a contribution to reducing the costs for translation. Their use may increase the cost of the final QA.

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