The New Real-Time Globalization and How to Keep Up
by Calvin Scharffs
Going global is no longer a privilege, but a necessity. Between outsourced labor and localization, apps and analytics, the global economy is a busy place, and can challenge even the most prepared of companies. In order to keep pace with today’s real-time world, you need the skills and tools to make smart decisions in a market where there is little room for anything else. With the right care and pruning, you can not only keep up with the new globalization, but succeed.
New Strategies for International Business
When globalization burst onto the scene in the 80s, it included mostly big name companies. Small businesses could only dream of having the kind of recognition and capital necessary to make an international physical presence possible. Most companies were priced out of global expansion given the new offices, new markets and skilled translators required to manually translate everything.
That’s no longer the case. Outsourced labor is accessible with the click of a button on Elance, Guru or the like. You can easily test new markets with automated translation and analytics, and the cloud will provide you all the (virtual) hardware and apps that you need for a small monthly fee.
Now that the need for a physical in-country presence is eliminated, it’s time to apply globalization skills in a new way. Here are three things to think about in the new age of real-time globalization.
1. Give your company a tech facelift.
Technology is changing at an unprecedented rate. Three months from now, chances are that there will be a better and faster way to do a lot of the things that you’re already doing from DevOps to translation. Maybe you’re not an early adopter, but you should also make sure you’re not a laggard because, in time, that will make you too cumbersome to compete.
Audit your workflows by timing how long it takes you to complete tasks. Ask yourself whether the ones that took the longest could be outsourced or done faster. If so, hunt for technologies that will help you do so. Experiment until you succeed--in this rapidly evolving Information Age, there is always a better way. Launch a new feature and have your users review it, then iterate. Use those user reviews to build a reputation as being responsive and involved. Integrate analytics to see who is using your app, and when its peak times are. Iterate more. This, in a nutshell, is part of acting ‘lean’ and is necessary in the new age of globalization.
2. Cultivate your partners.
The internet is by definition a connected, interdependent place. You can't create, distribute, market or service your customers without a solid network of partners. Know who they are, pursue the ones you want to be involved with and figure out how you can help them. No generic message – I want to add you to my network! – will ever match the personal communication that shows you took time to learn how a partnership could benefit you both. It's back to basics with a digital twist: “I've got this really cool thing that can make your really cool thing even better – let's make them play well together in the cloud!” Partners are people, not products on a shelf. In the rush to get to market, remember that it's the personal touches in these relationships that will pay the biggest dividends.
3. Marketing is everything.
From app store optimization to branding, marketing has never been more important than it is today. The world of commerce is a busy and confusing place where name presence has overtaken physical presence in importance. Remove as much confusion as possible for your users by creating an integrated UI, from the icon to the app store to your website's landing page. For users, even a small inconvenience can be a death knell, so make sure every interface is simple and comprehensible. Moreover, connecting with a group of core users and building a community around an app means the difference between success and not even showing up in search results. Lastly, don't forget to harness the power of in-app analytics or else you may never figure out what's working and why.
Success in the Integrated World
Keeping up means sending email instead of direct mail, reviewing who opened what and finding two loyal partners. Getting ahead means finding ways to advertise to key markets in the language and colors of their preference on the devices they use most, analyzing the most effective ways of communicating, and finding a small community of trusted partners to help you scale. The world may have shrunk, but now is the time to go big.
Photo Credit: Lars Plougmann