Shaping Regional or Local Content Hubs in Global Content Strategies

Feb 13, 2019


BEST PRACTICES SERIES

Article ImageFully centralized content management in a single location is difficult to achieve from an organizational, cultural, or functional perspective. That is why setting up content hubs can be a pragmatic option to balance global product and content leadership with the appropriate level of local execution in end-to-end content strategies. If you make the decision to adopt a distributed approach, your immediate challenge lies in how to define the scope, role, and responsibility of content hubs.

There is definitely no secret recipe to implement content hubs in a standardized way. You must be guided by a blend of common and business sense to align with local operations and customer journeys. In any case, there are a number of success factors, requirements, and dependencies that must be incorporated from the outset to set up content hubs as effectively as possible. In most cases, establishing these hubs has to meet business agility requirements as much as they have to increase cross-functional and client-centric value of product content locally. But if you keep these tips and best practices in mind when setting up your content hubs, to build successful localization processes.

Content hubs should be seen within the framework of a global content factory. It helps prevent you from creating silos that may be embedded in a global organization without being connected (enough) with content owners and stakeholders and without being integrated (enough) in business plans and processes. The benefit of articulating content hubs around business needs and priorities strategically empowers you to make quick wins that are visible and actionable for local teams finding a valuable role to play in global workflows. It is a matter of inclusion, acceptance, and efficiency in the long run. It is also the best way to define and enforce governance that must go hand-in-hand with the overall content management framework that you have to keep robust and simple in order to remain in line with business objectives. This framework is nothing less than a key component of a global content strategy supporting global product leadership.

Content hubs should be operated to drive linguistic, cultural, and functional effectiveness for the territories they cover and to deliver on the associated requirements. As such hubs fit nicely in start-to-finish content strategies and strong product leadership. You have to ensure that they are ready and able to address the whole range of tasks and activities fueling frictionless customer experiences when and where it matters. Therefore these hubs must be expected to attract and tap into all the talent that is necessary to design, develop, adapt, test, and deliver compelling content. In other words content hubs should ultimately be recognized and celebrated as centers of excellence boosting content effectiveness.

Content hubs should be capable of taking control, sharing accountability, and fostering contribution on demand and if need be. Content internationalization and localization are often the first major sources of added value from regional or local content hubs. You may also think of local content hubs as building blocks to calibrate decentralized content management activities as part of a global strategy, for instance, to enhance testing, certification, or planning. But reality may not be as straightforward as it seems at first sight. Differences and variations within regions may be good incentives to adopt a (more) flexible model of content hub, enabling and accelerating proper execution locally, in addition to centrally performed tasks. A hybrid model helps turn central management into central leadership and increase time effectiveness in content life cycles. It is quite applicable to regions such as Europe, the Middle, East Africa, or Asia Pacific, where developed and developing markets exist side-by-side, while showing significant differences in terms of business maturity, cultural practices, and functional capacity. In such cases, it is sensible to position content hubs as doers for markets that cannot localize or do not want to create content locally. On the other hand, content hubs may be efficient enablers or facilitators for markets that can create content locally in compliance with corporate standards and policies. Eventually, both the role and the scope of content hubs also depend on the type of company culture.

Content hubs should be considered by globalized organizations as well as by organizations looking for international expansion. Due diligence is crucial when it comes to deciding where and when to implement content hubs. You should plan and shape them according to your global growth objectives, rather than wait for achievements to come at some point in time. By anticipating some level of content management distribution you can get more time and room for developing the teams that will be the engines of content hubs. It is another reason why international content management has to be planned and integrated into product roadmaps and synchronized with operational plans of records.

Content hubs do not have to be only internal in order to combine quality and speed. Some globalizing organizations and expanding businesses do not have internal resources locally, or cannot establish in-market content operations as quickly as they would like to. Opting for a local partner may be a good solution in the short run, regardless of the level of decentralization that content hubs might be based on in the long run. If you go down that road, you should really ensure that you count on more than a vendor or a supplier taking orders and making deliveries in your content supply chain. Effective local content requires the engagement and leadership that a reliable business partner offer. This applies to content operations, no matter if your local partner has to focus on content localization or if it must take care of all relevant production, adaptation, and delivery activities. Such external collaboration should be felt, and succeed, just like internal cooperation should. In addition to immediate availability and action leveraging an external partnership may provide expertise that you did not consider originally and experience that was gained with well-established local players or leaders. It may then become a shortcut to generate local competitive advantages and global differentiation.

Content hubs should be a driver of cost-effectiveness and leadership. When engineering content supply and value chains spanning regions and countries, you cannot tolerate waste due to a lack of financial awareness or discipline. First of all, establishing content hubs enables you to determine the tangible gap between the cost of doing the right thing, doing the wrong thing and doing nothing. Content hubs should act like filtering and executing entities that help ensure that local customers get the right content at the right time and in the right format. As such, they avoid missing opportunities to meet or exceed expectations and maximize the return on content investments. Also, they foster efforts to federate skills and unify resources and therefore reduce risks of costly redundancy and inconsistency. This is most relevant for organizations that include a number of business units that work with more or less autonomy, and face a potential duplication of content operations, leading to incremental costs and expensive fragmentation.

 


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