Localization ( l10n ) Challenges

Strategies for Localization

Localization (l10n) – Time-To-Market

l10nWhile many companies are undertaking ongoing initiatives in development, marketing and production to reduce time-to-market, lag times in product localization ( l10n ) continue to delay international product releases.

With rapidly evolving technologies and the need to leapfrog the competition, companies find that waiting 3-6 months for their localized products to ship no longer meets their needs or their end-users’.

Localization (l10n) projects should take between 6-8 weeks and can start concurrent with product development. With the advent of search-engine and database tools, translation reuse has shortened the international release cycle by months. Simultaneous product rollouts are a reality in the 21st century. Do not risk losing market share to your competition simply because you are still applying old localization strategies, relying on distributors, limited in-house translation resources, or ill-equipped translation vendors.

Localization of Products & Products Ownership

Your development group has worked hard to create the product. Your marketing group has promoted it. You have paid all the bills. Don’t you want to have ownership of your product, no matter where you sell it?

Many companies hand over product ownership and control to their international Value-Added Resellers (VARs) and distributors by having them fund or perform its localization (l10n). Although this may appear to be a short-term savings, in the long term it often proves otherwise.

Having VARs or distributors perform or fund the l10n activities adds shackles to your sales and marketing expansions. It may limit your ability to renegotiate terms, add new distributors, or go direct. Retranslation at a later stage to guarantee ownership is not something your end-users would be pleased with. Once they get accustomed to the localized product, they want consistency and continuity in the translation in follow-up updates.

Upfront and total ownership of your localized product is a must-have.

Localization (l10n) – International Image

Your product bears your name. It should project the appropriate image not only in your home country, but in all your markets.

Trusting a third party to localize your product gives them control over that image. This third party should be committed to projecting the best image possible while remaining consistent and loyal to the source. Often distributors and VARs think they know better, taking liberties as they adapt your product for their markets. They ad-lib, deleting and adding as they see fit. It is hard to repair the damage after it is done.

The image portrayed by your product should never be compromised, no matter who does your localization.

Strategies for Localization & Technology Convergence

Advances in internet technologies, development tools, development strategies like Agile programming, authoring tools, and platforms have expanded the use of different file formats and build environments. Software applications and manuals are no longer based only on Microsoft resource files or Word documents. Java, XML, ASP, HTML, and a range of other formats are now standard in many applications and products.

And with the continuing move toward technology convergence, companies are marrying software, electronics, mechanics, chemistry, biology and other sciences to develop high-end solutions.

Translators are now expected to understand all these different technologies and file formats and accurately translate only what is needed, without modifying tags, links or code. If errors are made, a significant amount of debugging time is needed to fix and build these international products.

Localization is both an art and a science. Don’t short-circuit the translation process or underestimate the effort needed. It takes experienced engineering and translation professionals to properly implement an efficient translation-reuse process and localize your product.

Localization with Language & Cultural Variances

Languages have unique and complicated requirements. Some are written from left to right, others from right to left, and some are bidirectional. Many Asian languages require double or multi-bytes to represent the tens of thousands of symbols they use.

Cultures also differ widely even among nations that speak a common language! Work ethics, commitments to quality and schedules, holidays, time zones, and general habits vary greatly depending not only on who you are working with, but also where you are working.

These are localization (l10n) challenges that should be trusted only to professionals. Don’t tackle them alone, unequipped and unprepared.

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