According to many sociologists, in recent decades we have been experiencing a “radical change” in various fields of humanity, from technology, science, economics to politics. This great change they are talking about is called “Globalization” and it has profoundly affected our lifestyle, our habits, the entire social structure and therefore the way we deal with the contemporary world.

In fact, our world seems to have been experiencing a kind of space-time compression since 1972, as stated by a famous anthropologist and geographer, namely David Harvey, in his famous book The condition of postmodernity: an inquiry into the origins of cultural change (HARVEY, David, The Condition of Postmodernity: An Inquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change, Blackwell, 1992). Think of the rapid flow of information unleashed by the ICT revolution that today allows us to send a message to the other side of the world in real time through “a click in the palm of our hand”. Think of the greater flexibility of means of transport thanks to technological advances that allow us to move around the world in a matter of hours. All these improvements have made the world become smaller and smaller in a metaphorical sense in such a way that today in the business world, organizations are no longer limited by their geographical location.

Suddenly their markets are limitless and they can start looking for new opportunities abroad where they couldn’t even imagine going just a few years ago. In other words, what happens is that they become global and, as they reach this new status, their new customer targets are no longer exclusively made up of local customers. New global segments are emerging that share more or less the same lifestyle thanks to globalization. For example, Chinese women from the emerging middle class behave like American women and identify with them.

Companies that want to internationalize have a desperate need to start from the internationalization of their communication… but, wouldn’t it be enough to use English for their external communication? Perhaps, the jury is still out on this issue, but Do not! We definitely think not and we’ll show you why below.

Multilingual communication: essential to globalize business

In today’s global economy, multilingual communication is an essential tool for business success because:

  • buyers from all countries increasingly demand products or services described in their own language
  • Companies that realize the above point too late inevitably lose market shares and a 33% reduction in long-term profitability over the product lifecycle on average, according to McKinsey&Co
  • global company brands lose value if they speak a non-local language

Unfortunately, it seems that many organizations are not directing their efforts towards localization and translation alongside the creation of relevant and valuable multilingual digital content. If they do, most of the time it is just an accidental process without a carefully considered plan or well-conceived strategy behind it.

Redefining the value of content management: towards multilingual global content management

The user, potentially interested in a product or service, simply looks it up on the Internet and guess what? Among the list of Google results, select and click only those delivered in your own language. This action will be repeated at any touchpoint in your online journey before you end up buying the desired product or service.

Therefore, what a company would do best is to start redefining the value of its content management and upgrade to multilingual global content management. The latter drives the overall customer experience, increases customer satisfaction, promotes brand awareness and consistency, and supports time-to-market goals. In addition, since content is an important corporate asset, it must be managed like any other corporate asset, so it is essential to make it multilingual and work tirelessly on its translation into the language of the client/user.

As former German Chancellor Willy Brandt once said:

If I’m selling you, I speak your language. If I am buying, dann müssen Sie Deutsch sprechen.

(Then we must speak German)

Although one might be led to think that simply embedding a Google Translate plugin on your business website would suffice, you would soon discover how short-sighted this choice is. The translations would not only turn out to be of poor quality, but would also greatly affect the reputation of your business and your brand.

Furthermore, a global economy increasingly requires not only multilingual content but also content that is appropriate for the target population. In other words, a company must meet the expectations in terms of localization and translation processes of a target country, otherwise even a perfectly translated message may sound foreign to a native speaker.

For example, a Spanish company could use on its website an expression such as

take the cat to the water

highlight that they have fulfilled a very complex task in a particular job, a feat.

Clearly, the English translation does not convey the same meaning as the Spanish original and a web user would be taken aback by reading this expression. As a consequence, that business would not be perceived as professional and his reputation would soon be shattered. It goes without saying that the potential user/customer would quickly go to another business website and perhaps purchase a competitor’s product or service.

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