Going Beyond Borders And Boundaries In Digital Globalization

Apr 29, 2015

Article ImageMuch focus has to be put on processes-- such as content authoring, asset management, internationalization, localization, or SEO--to deliver on digital content effectiveness and customer experience globally. It is equally important to think about the organizational framework where these processes become most valuable, and best practices across the board. For leaders in large and multinational organizations it often means moving toward a cross-functional evolution rather than spurring a revolution by forcing their way into silos. Therefore digital globalization implies crossing geographic borders and organizational boundaries. And it is also why digital is global in nature, yet not by default.

To start or accelerate digital globalization there is usually no alternative to being bold-but you still have to keep international customers in mind along the way. Here are a couple of steps to set that stage, look for some quick wins, and obtain senior executive sponsorship.

Establish a Center of Excellence or a Competency Center for Digital Globalization

Creating a new silo while claiming to bridge existing silos would not make much sense. So this group should be established as a shared driver of time and cost efficiency supporting the whole business including shared services, corporate functions, and industry verticals if applicable. It must be founded on central management rather than on centralization. In other words it should aim at giving strategic directions, owning processes and standards, leveraging best practices, enabling leaders to create value and growth around the world, and empowering geographically distributed teams to deliver on their objectives. It should not become an ivory tower where everything is done (thought and executed) for all markets without effective engagement and collaboration. It would certainly not meet expectations in terms of customer experience and cost leadership.

Another benefit of this organizational upgrade is developing digital globalization awareness and leadership. Given that content supply chains are based on people, bringing them together in a global and digital climate does help.

Smaller organizations that do not have offices or teams in local markets may consider this approach too. When they work with a number of suppliers or partners they can consider themselves the center of excellence and tap into the expertise and experience available to them locally--which may cover local resources and tools.

Position Digital Globalization as a True Business Partner

Some digital globalization activities may be seen as time-consuming and expensive. There are several ways to demonstrate the opposite and a smart strategy is to raise digital globalization to the next level by increasing its value and strengthening its underlying efficiency chain. Strategically it means moving from a business service to a business enabler, and ultimately to a business partner. It may be summarized as the following transition path:

  1. A service to supply with global content, connect with content owners and other teams, come to play as a cost driver and support an operational approach
  2. An enabler to plan activities upfront to manage content globally, include milestones in roadmaps with leaders, be used as a cost center and support an operational and tactical approach
  3. A partner to drive processes to meet customer experience and growth requirements,  engage directly with leaders, become a profit driver and support an operational, tactical, and strategic approach.

It is easier to go down the digital globalization road with a center of excellence, as it will allow gathering and combining multiple areas of expertise and skills contributing to the business. Internationalization engineers, content authors, business analysts, translation and localization leads, SEO experts, or globalization testers do more than accelerate the international time-to-market. This great set of skills can be enriched with profiles such as data scientists and neuroscientists when appropriate. They make it happen together with local stakeholders and leaders. From a digital perspective they are true partners in crime.

This shift is also more efficient with a clear charter that has roots in all parts of the business and when it is backed by strong analytics and metrics. Optimizing cost management, avoiding iterations, better allocating resources, and measuring contrast in international time-to-market are factors generating numbers that may be used to justify the ROI of evolution and to focus on consolidated globalization indicators that will keep it sustainable.

Going beyond organizational boundaries has a direct and tangible impact on the content value chain in general, and on content effectiveness in particular. Simply put, it is a major non-technical enabler of digital globalization. Just like filling up a car on time and with premium gas, a center of excellence allows going faster and further.

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock.)

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When mapping global growth opportunities on a regular basis it is crucial to prioritize business requirements and to plan for actions accordingly. This means categorizing countries according to a number of criteria ranging from local demand to local competition. Although some developing or emerging markets have been listed in top tiers for some time, their positioning in business expansion has not always been reflected in effective efforts to produce content and products meeting their actual customer requirements. It might stem from the fact that, historically speaking, globalization has been driven by many Western companies.