Donald A. DePalma

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Adding Global Markets to the Content Life Cycle

What tools best help unlock the value of information globally?

  • Scale to global markets and volumes. Organizations employ complex, multi-technology environments to transform information from where it was created to where it is needed. They need to do this regularly across a variety of systems; for a new product release a computer maker might have its language service provider translate 5,000 files into eight languages. Without engineering tools to adapt software, productivity aids to speed up translations, and workflow systems to manage process, this information might never reach its intended markets.
  • Meet legal requirements. International business demands country-specific labeling and packaging, research trials, and Conformité Européene (CE) compliance. These combine with technical documentation, customer support, training materials, web localization, and market analysis - all specific to a particular industry. Furthermore, local laws challenge the posting of web content, as Yahoo! found out with its well-publicized spat with the French government over Nazi memorabilia. Internal corporate policies and external realities drive companies to filter job postings for gender, race, and other verboten topics.
  • Demonstrate a positive return. Most organizations struggle to prove return on investment (ROI) for international projects, although our research shows that they typically spend only one-quarter of a percent to 2.5 percent of the resulting revenue on translation and localization. Nonetheless, increased tool productivity, more content re-use, and other efficiencies are essential. Software vendors tell us that they allocate 60 percent of the cost of creating international variants to translation, and the balance to underlying engineering. When it comes to websites, the lion's share of cost goes to translation and verifying that things work correctly. Lowering the cost of both of these is critical.
Code-Content Dependence Complicates Market Transformations
Much data relies on transaction servers cross-bred with content, database, or other file management systems. This co-dependent relationship means that organizations must provision for simple translation, code adaptation, and complex, software-centric products and content. Even a simple translation can involve heavy-duty programming such as extracting code and complex calls to databases.

This code-content dependence shows up most vividly on the web, where companies expose their value proposition and supporting interactivity. User experience experts have found that the more interactive, informative, and helpful the site is, the "stickier" it becomes - that is, it more likely to draw and retain buyers. The rules don't change for international websites, documentation, or marketing materials. Providing a richer experience for foreign visitors means adapting even more code and more content to meet their needs and expectations.

Needed: A Content Architecture that Speaks Global
Corporate planners assume that their core technology of databases, content management systems, and application servers can handle the role of creating and managing global content. These enterprise solutions can handle a good part of the job, but they will need specialized content development and programming tools to support the globalization of the content value chain through translation, multilingual workflow, and application remediation.

Thus, the global content value chain begins with the creation of original content. Each modification - an edit, additional detail, a file conversion - adds value to the content. More substantial modifications - a port to a mobile device, rewriting the text into a more colloquial speech form, or a full translation to another language - naturally follow. These value-adding operations comprise what we call the "transformational imperative," a critical driver for the content value chain. As organizations extend their information architectures to embrace more countries and applications under the banner of a truly global venture, they have to transform and deliver content in the form in which it will be most useful to its audience.

Specialized Tools Accelerate Content Globalization
Organizations repeatedly iterate that they must better deal with the swelling volume of content and the parallel demand for market adaptation. They seek higher productivity to transform words faster and cheaper. Those wishing to make the leap to a global content value chain should:

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Donald A. DePalma, PhD, is the author of Business Without Borders: A Strategic Guide to Global Marketing, and the president and founder of business globalization research and consulting firm, Common Sense Advisory. For more information on Common Sense Advisory's research, workshops, and consulting services, visit www.commonsenseadvisory.com or call 866.510.6101.

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