Refreshing & Creating Business Processes
Not so long ago, if you wanted to collect or share information, you had to deal with physical documents. From faxes and Xeroxes to papers and binders, all business data was analog. However, today, paper and pencil record-keeping is a thing of the past, and most, if not all, business activities are built on the backs of digital technologies.
Digital transformation can, therefore, be defined as the process of creating or changing your business operations, processes, and how you deliver value to customers by leveraging digital technologies to meet evolving market requirements. Digital transformation is also about optimization and quickly adapting when required via intelligent information and technologies.
Although new and revolutionary technologies have been entering the business world quickly in the past few years, last year, thanks to a global pandemic, we witnessed unprecedented growth and shift to digitization. The pandemic served as a catalyst; what might have taken years had to happen in months. Going digital became central to responding to the disruption of business ecosystems. Unfortunately, this shift has its fair share of challenges. There are a couple of barriers to a successful digital transformation that businesses face today.
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The Shift to Digital Transformation
Until recently, most companies consistently conducted their global business. This included semi-automated marketing campaigns, product offerings with timed and defined global rollouts, and a website as the information delivery vehicle. There was stability and a clear, product-focused direction. Simple.
What has happened since? Change, growth, new functions, lots of owners, and a complete move to digital transformation! Markets are exploding worldwide; culturally appropriate products and content in the local language provided in various media are now crucial to product and brand success.
Companies grappling with digital transformation understand this, and the localization function is now required to meet this even more demanding reality. Digital-first strategies open up significant opportunities. Digital success and new customers abound when localized products and available content are appropriately tuned.
Why the Shift?
The rise of many new startups challenging old business methods, rapid growth strategies, and seismic forces such as the pandemic has contributed to making digital transformation a focal point for global business.
The shift to digital transformation also puts a company’s barriers in the spotlight. The obstacles include nonexistent roadmaps, short-term thinking, feature chase, misused investments, missed market opportunities, and customer confusion.
The Digital First Challenge
To illustrate how such barriers to successful digital transformation can arise, let’s look at a real-world example (renamed Achilles Corp for anonymity). How did Achilles, a well-known global technology company, end up in such dire digital-first straits?
Two years ago, Achilles Corp faced a daunting digital-first challenge. Achilles Corp. realized that simultaneous delivery of information in its 21 languages was an absolute requirement to fulfill its legal, regional, and customer satisfaction needs. Essential content for this effort included press releases, support articles, and the app itself.
The critical need for simultaneous localized content delivery arose for a few different reasons. Most important, legal requirements varied significantly by geographic region, and customers needed to have the nuance of each region’s laws presented to them. Adding to the pressure, Achilles Corp was under a global governmental lens. All information needed to be presented in the application itself and related content that tied back to the customer’s in-country experience.
Finally, failure to simultaneously publish non-English press releases caused Achilles Corp to lose control of its message. English-only meant that press releases were being translated by anyone interested, like in-country journalists who might or might not capture the true meaning. All told, it was a significant digital-first challenge with legal and customer satisfaction ramifications.
To align with its global digital-first goals, the company needed to solve some severe business process issues, not least in localization. Achilles was working with a homegrown Content Management System (CMS), which lacked available connectors (APIs) to integrate with the Achilles Translation Management System (TMS).
People responsible for approving English publications were either unaware of or didn’t feel accountable for the ramifications of going to market in English first. To achieve ideal digital-first business processes, long-held business practices that prevent digital transformation needed to be addressed. In Achilles Corp’s case, it took three meetings of pleading before the PR department understood that they were losing control of their worldwide message. It took even more sessions for the Product team to understand that “English first” was destroying customer confidence with the product.
Finally, and critically, Achilles Corp didn’t invest appropriately in the technological localization support on which digital-first relies. Software engineers responsible for necessary integrations were not dedicated to the mission. They often had other tasks to complete, and they didn’t report directly to the business teams who relied on their expertise. They started moving resources away from the integration challenge. The employee responsible for localization protested about this situation and nearly lost their job as a result.
Businesses can learn from Achilles Corp’s digital-first journey and get a deeper insight into the localization challenges they need to overcome in their bid to successful digital transformation and digital-first business processes. Watch out for our next post, in which we’ll discuss key factors to global digital success and give you a digital-first corporate global checklist.
Meanwhile, you can contact us for any general and sales inquiries. We are happy to help.