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.
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.
Five Business Process Pillars for Success
Achilles Corp’s digital-first journey provides a great example of the localization challenges that companies must overcome when striving toward digital-first business processes. Achilles Corp is an agile, growth-focused company. It has many of the basic tools to build, repair, and add to its ongoing corporate digital transformation – and is well on the road to integrating key localization digital transformation pillars.
- Customer Experience
Customer Experience/Engagement (Language + culture as drivers): Provide local markets with both focused language support plus the right local and cultural tools (appropriate images, locale-specific content, and the right product mixes) that customers need. Content in all languages must hit both the intended message and the proper tone. Doing so protects your brand and treats your customers as they want to be treated.
Data for Decision-Making (local markets): Information from dashboards, data on all global corporate markets, customers, financials, individual and regional market data.
- Internal Engagement
Corporate Internal Engagement (aggregation of local customer touchpoints): Internal functions and their technologies that affect localized customer interactions.
Digital First Processes, Apps, Datasets (localization workflows, localized applications): All corporate processes for automation need to be internationalized for global use, apps and customers.
Automated Services (centralized, clean data sources, machine learning, fresh automation, technology MT hubs): integrated localized data for corporate services and apps
Digital First Corporate Global Checklist
The Achilles Corp experience shines a spotlight on the specific questions needed to create a useful, easy-to-use corporate global checklist for your company.
Below is the digital-first corporate global checklist:
- Are you planning and building out your market language, cultural, and legal requirements?
- In terms of customer experience and satisfaction, does your company understand that digital-first demands that all languages in which you operate are important for communication?
- Does your company understand the total benefits of a positive customer experience (revenue, satisfaction, loyalty)?
- Are your translation technologies ready for new and expanded digital-first integration and use across the company? Does this include implementing new AI and machine learning components?
- Are your business processes and workflows up-to-date, and do they address new customer and technical scenarios?
- Are you updating your content strategies for expansion or prioritization for either?
- Focused or expanded localization
- Is there alignment across the company on what digital-first means and commitment from C-level?
- Does your company understand the importance of international business as an engine of growth to meet corporate revenue targets?
- Have you reviewed and measured your global market customer data, including revenue and costs for localized support?
- Do you have dedicated resources available and assigned when your company needs to fill technological and business process gaps to achieve digital-first?
- Are specific funds allocated to playing digital-first catch-up? These funds could be either for new technology, technology integration, or required consulting services.
Digital Transformation & Customer Experience
Achilles Corp is a single example showing some of the challenges that digital transformation – with its localization components – has raised in the last few years. It was critical for Achilles Corp to create an internal understanding of all customer expectations and requirements.
Research confirms that when asked about factors that influence a business’ decision to implement a digital transformation strategy, nearly half of all companies cited customer experience and customer satisfaction as their leading influences. The companies that transform digitally are creating highly engaged customers.
These customers are:
Twice as likely to buy with their preferred brand, even when a competing business has a better product or price
Four times more likely to have made referrals on your brand to their friends, family, and connections
Six times higher chance of trying a new service or product from their preferred brand
Localization, including global mindset and leadership, clarifies and solidifies those global expectations. For company trailblazers, the digital-first journey has been underway for several years. Corporate leaders of digital-first change are now reaping great benefits from their digital transformation with rapidly growing customer bases and revenue. Digital transformation exploded in 2020 across both companies and countries. Companies that succeed in building out a robust localized digital-first experience trigger a shift in their localization functions.
They evaluate both customer and country-level business requirements, work across their company, refresh their current array of processes and tools, decrease time-to-market for localized content, and disrupt older work processes with automation (MT, AI-enabled apps). If you want to play with this cohort of localization digital transformation leaders, reach out to Vistatec for further analysis and support.
Businesses must evolve to remain competitive in their specific industry; otherwise, they’ll inevitably fall behind. The key purpose of any digital transformation initiative is to improve the current processes. However, the journey comes with various challenges, and businesses must prepare and have strategies in advance to deal with the problem.
At Vistatec, we are reputed for providing global content services for organizations that help accelerate their commercial success. Download eBooks from Vistatec’s Digital First page to learn how to address challenges when striving toward digital-first business processes.