Digital Globalization is a Marketing and Communications Leader's Best Friend

Mar 18, 2015


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Article ImageIn the digital age marketing and communications leaders cannot escape challenges put out by customers who are more diverse and demanding than ever. While they are aware digital is global in nature they also know that ensuring a global footprint is not an achievement anymore. Global excellence is. This is translated into efficiency and effectiveness across geographies from a strategic perspective. There is good news for global and local players as they can leverage digital globalization to enable and boost their own efforts as well, whether they have to initiate or accelerate digital evolution. These considerations are equally important to help them avoid being insulated when dealing with tactics on global scale.  Let's have a look at some of these common imperatives and how to increase value for the sake of the whole business. These focal points are articulated around simplicity, innovation and growth as components of the foundation shared by all digital strategies.

Customer Understanding: Delighting customers around the world is not easy and becomes even more (and unnecessarily) complex if they are not identified and understood properly. Therefore it is crucial to capture requirements and trends in various markets to pave the digital way prior to making any decision or move. Profiling and segmenting customers is well known but marketing and communications leaders make their voice heard loud(er) and clear(er) by working very closely and early with design, development, and commercial leaders. There may be a risk of disconnection at global or local levels in large organizations about how and when to create products for most of the world. Using customer understanding to engage in a timely fashion and do the right thing globally up front is a great opportunity.

Organizational Change: Working in a globalizing and digitizing organization implies going beyond traditional functions or silos. Several areas of expertise, operations, and leadership are affected by this change--and marketing and communications leaders can play a major role in aligning and benefiting from cross-functional efforts such as:

  • Distributed and geographically dispersed management--As experience and expertise to deliver on digital globalization do not sit in one place, managing various people with various skills and in various locations is not optional. Full centralization is not a silver bullet in digital globalization indeed. That is why marketing and communications leaders often thrive in a model based on a globalization center of excellence--building bridges between silos and functions on global brand and product management topics, as well as with local teams on empowerment and execution.
  • Governance--Room must be made for globalization and digitization in content and product value chains. In order to synchronize these value chains with supply chains, marketing, and communications leaders can help bring up and prioritize actions in these areas by instilling awareness of new product introductions or engaging for internationalization assessment and certification, for example.
  • Funding process and accountability-- There is a cost of managing digital globalization effectively but there is also a cost of not doing it or doing nothing at all, which is often higher. Ensuring proper funding to meet international customer experience requirements and pursue global business opportunities. Funneling some related costs centrally is a safe path to make the most of budgets while keeping multiple funding channels in place as necessary. Actually it increases the level of accountability and the return on investment to avoid redundant internal costs, fragmented service rates from a myriad of suppliers, or unbudgeted costs from customer experience issues.

Localization: It is an essential phase of digital globalization to tune content according to international customer expectations. It covers a number a tasks from translation to terminology management to ensure linguistic, stylistic and cultural requirements are met to drive the overall customer experience. It is imperative for marketing and communications leaders to build on customer understanding and capitalize on global business opportunities without any faux pas. They have to incorporate localization factors and dependencies in their plans and therefore have to advocate for localization consideration and engagement in a timely way. And they can use their influence to start considering localization as a profit driver instead of only a cost center.

Automation: Marketing and communications leaders can tap into digital globalization toolkits to contribute to streamlining processes and speeding up time to market. Technology is a major enabler in that field and their ecosystem should include decision support applications, authoring and localization management systems, digital asset management tools, or customer relationship management solutions.

International customer experience: It may be natural to see customer experience as the "final station" of a content life cycle. This view is focused on the tip of the iceberg and sometimes leads some people to think about it and plan for it too late like for localization. A number of organizations at the forefront of digital globalization understand customer experience should be considered from the outset and invest in proactive management. Marketing and communications leaders can help create and promote milestones such as global customer understanding, product and content design, localization, or customer experience measurement.

Finally local leaders may feel these few points are most relevant for their global counterparts. As successful digital globalization always relies on wins for both global and local levels of an organization, any leader should be involved and contribute no matter if he/she works in a multinational with offices around the world, in a local company establishing communications and sales with external partners in other markets or within an e-commerce environment reaching out to international consumers directly.

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock.)