Effective Global Strategies and AI – VistaTalks Episode 145


Effective Global Strategies and AI – VistaTalks Episode 145

In this episode of VistaTalks, host Simon Hodgkins and Kevin O’Donnell, the founder of Global10x, talk about AI, localization, and global strategies. Kevin is a seasoned international expansion and growth advisor with experience in B2B product and growth leadership. Having held senior positions at industry giants like Dropbox, Microsoft, and Nitro, Kevin brings invaluable insights into the intricacies of international product growth, localization strategies, and successful global go-to-market (GTM) strategies. Kevin shares his approach to helping companies expand their international presence and the importance of a well-rounded strategy beyond localization.

International Expansion

Kevin O’Donnell’s career spans over two decades, during which he has significantly shaped the global landscape for several tech companies. His passion lies in aiding B2B SaaS companies to achieve exponential growth beyond borders. At Global10x, Kevin works with B2B companies, helping them refine their international GTM strategies, grow market share, and increase revenue.

Kevin founded Global10x to address a critical blind spot he identified in many companies’ international expansion efforts. “Many companies expand internationally, localize their products, and hire sales teams, but they often plateau quickly and wonder why they aren’t achieving the same level of revenue growth as in their domestic markets,” Kevin explained. He emphasized that international success requires more than localization; it demands breaking down barriers, removing friction, and making necessary adaptations.

Strategic Foundations for International Success

One of the key points Kevin highlights is the need for an international strategy that amplifies the core company strategy. This approach ensures that the international efforts are not siloed but integrated and aligned with the company’s overarching goals. Kevin advises companies to start by defining their objectives for global success, whether it’s revenue growth, market share, brand awareness, or a combination of these.

Understanding the target customer in international markets is crucial. Kevin shared an example of how a subtle shift in target customer identification can significantly impact the GTM strategy. For instance, a SaaS company targeting tax preparers in the US might find that in Japan or Germany, their target should be accountants in small businesses rather than independent tax preparers. This shift can substantially impact the company’s success in those markets.

Overcoming Challenges in Localization

Localization teams often find themselves trapped in a cycle of constant production work, delivering on time and budget but under pressure to do more with fewer resources. Kevin pointed out that successful localization teams might face the paradox of being victims of their own success, constantly in execution mode and unable to focus on strategic improvements.

To address this, Kevin recommends several strategies. First, localization teams should push back on low-priority requests and focus on high-priority tasks that drive significant value. Secondly, engaging with stakeholders to understand how they measure the success of localization efforts can lead to more strategic discussions. For example, teams could focus on localizing SEO strategies or adapting marketing campaigns for high-priority markets instead of localizing every marketing report.

Kevin also stresses the importance of identifying international whitespace opportunities. Localization teams, often the only ones consistently thinking about international customers, can uncover gaps in the customer experience and advocate for improvements. This proactive approach can lead to significant enhancements in customer satisfaction and engagement.

Modernizing Localization Processes

Modernizing localization processes is essential for efficiency and effectiveness. Kevin suggests that localization teams build a roadmap for process improvement, similar to how product teams plan their work. This roadmap should include clear goals, such as expanding support from 20 to 50 languages or reducing turnaround time from a week to a day.

Leveraging technology and strategic partnerships with suppliers can also drive significant improvements. Suppliers can offer best practices and insights from their work with other clients, which can be invaluable for localization teams. Additionally, Kevin emphasizes the importance of having a solid goal for process improvement and aligning technology and process solutions accordingly.

The Impact of Artificial Intelligence

The conversation inevitably turned to artificial intelligence (AI) and its impact on the localization industry. Kevin acknowledged that AI presents enormous opportunities but is still in the early hype stage. He drew parallels with past paradigm shifts, such as the evolution of processing power and bandwidth, to illustrate the potential long-term impact of AI.

AI, particularly large language models, will become more commonplace and affordable, enabling new capabilities in localization. Kevin encouraged companies to consider how AI can help them deliver a near-native customer experience in every market. He cautioned against simply adding AI as a “magic sauce” to existing processes and instead advocated for a first-principles approach to leveraging AI’s full potential.

AI will undoubtedly raise the quality baseline for localization, making good-quality localization ubiquitous. However, this also means that companies must innovate to differentiate themselves further. Kevin urged localization providers to become thought leaders in AI applications, experimenting with and investing in new ideas to stay ahead of potential disruptions.

Success Stories and Lessons Learned

Kevin shared a compelling success story from his career that highlighted the impact of minor improvements on international growth. At one of his former companies, a simple localization experiment on the pricing page’s chatbox greetings led to a 200% increase in engagement. This small change significantly improved the user experience and ultimately drove higher product purchases. This example underscored the importance of paying attention to the details in the customer journey and the potential for significant gains from seemingly minor adjustments.


Kevin O’Donnell’s insights on VistaTalks offer invaluable guidance for B2B companies looking to accelerate their international growth. His emphasis on a strategic, well-rounded approach to international expansion and localization, coupled with the potential of AI, provides a roadmap for companies aiming to succeed on the global stage. By focusing on clear objectives, leveraging technology, and paying attention to the details, businesses can unlock significant opportunities for growth and success in international markets.