The strategic value of internationalization for localizers

Value for all localizers

Whether you are an individual translator/localizer, an in-house localization manager or a full-fledged localization vendor, internationalization has a strategic value for your company and career. Here's why.

1. Increase the bottom line

We start with the bottom line, not because it's the main benefit of internationalization, but rather because it's important and misunderstood. If a customer needs help with internationalization, you can simply refer an internationalization expert or company (such as i18N Inc.). There is no cash outlay and there is no management required (contrary to sub-contracted localization projects). All you do is collect the referral fee/commission. The referral fee often varies between $500 and $5000, but we had a project in 2013 where the localization vendor collected over $100,000 (for a simple referral and a few days of accounting)

Adding internationalization to your service offering may not have a dramatic impact on your bottom line, but it has almost zero risk and zero cost of sales. Once in a while, you may be pleasantly surprised, but the real benefit remains strategic, as described below.

2. Protect your brand from project failure

All localizers know (or learn quickly) that proper localization can only happen if internationalization, also known as localization enablement, has been correctly performed. Unfortunately, internationalization is often underestimated, and localization projects are delayed, become more expensive, or simply produce a product of lower quality. Even if all the fault is the customer's (frequently) and even if the customer admits this (rarely), being part of a partially failed project is damaging both to your brand and to your customer relationship. The customer can easily consider switching to another vendor.

Moreover, iIf you try to explain to your customer's programmers what the problems are, they are likely to be defensive unless you can talk to them in their own language (i.e. programmers will more easily respect other programmers). Yet again, this a good reason to partner with a technical internationalization specialist.

3. Strengthen the customer relationship

Internationalization happens much earlier in the product development cycle than localization, translation or even testing. It happens during the initial product architecture or when a product is re-engineered to support other languages. In either case this allows you to establish a relationship much earlier with the customer, to identify and rectify potential localization problems early on and thus establish trust. With an internationalization partner, you can have an on-going relationship with the customer and become a one-stop shop for all their globalization needs.