Ask the Experts: Global Digital Transformation

3 Takeaways from Adobe and Translations.com’s Interactive Roundtable

Ask the Experts: Global Digital Transformation
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The global digital transformation revolution is well underway, and while nearly 90% of companies say they have plans for a digital business strategy, less than 40% have actually begun the process of adopting one. Digital transformation is an intimidating prospect for many companies, especially for companies with customers and markets around the world. The task can seem daunting—even impossible. As a result, many companies test the waters of transformation every couple of years but can’t quite bring themselves to dive in.

However, the days of putting off digital transformation are quickly drawing to an end. Seventy-five percent-of internet users worldwide don’t speak English. With internet penetration in those countries expanding exponentially, future growth will increasingly come from across borders in new and emerging markets.

To help tackle this important topic, Adobe and Translations.com teamed up to host an interactive roundtable with experts from Honeywell, Lufthansa, Eaton, and Western Digital to share how these organizations prepared for their global digital transformation journey, what they learned along the way, and how a solid translation management system (TMS)—in these cases Translations.com’s GlobalLink platform—played a critical role in their success.

“We started like the Flintstones, and now we’re like the Jetsons,” says Vicki Key, Globalization Manager at Western Digital. “It was critical that we took this step.”

Prepare for a long journey

Customers are always surprised with how long a digital transformation can take. Global digital transformation is often oversimplified. Even if you have the major steps planned out, it’s often the small details that are overlooked and difficult to implement.

“It’s like trying to turn a ship around,” said Vicki from Western Digital. “The process is slow, and you’re continually learning as you go. But don’t worry, that’s normal! It may take longer than you expect, but if you do your due diligence and plan accordingly, you’ll be okay.”

Koshy Payikad, Digital Services Leader at Honeywell, recommended, “Start with a specific region to test out your strategy and try things such as machine translation and AI. Our strategy started with just translation. The cost savings of using a translation management system versus hiring a third party became apparent quickly and gave us the results we needed to demonstrate value to management. After we saw the numbers go up in that region, we would dive into full localization. And when you add even more languages, the savings get even bigger, which can help drive a longer-term localization strategy.”

Adaptability and experience are key

Resist the urge to cut corners. Michael Grunicke, Director of Online and Mobile Sales at Lufthansa, recalled, “Even if we hired a team of translators when migrating content from across Europe, they would not necessarily speak the ‘airline language.’ A translation management system allows you to keep the abbreviations and special expressions of your company’s brand. Having an experienced global partner is key.”

“You don’t know what you don’t know,” said Western Digital’s Vicki. “Knowledge and adaptability are incredibly important in a partner. You need someone who can help anticipate how your needs will change. They can help guide you through the unknown.”

Regarding M&A activity, Vicki added, “When you have new teams bringing in their own processes, being able to change and adapt is important for success moving forward. A good partner will help navigate this.”

According to Honeywell’s Koshy, it ultimately boiled down to one thing: “Digital transformation never stops. It keeps evolving.”

Take advantage of a solid TMS

How important has it been for these experts to use a TMS such as GlobalLink to help scale launching and maintaining their multilingual content? Patrick Barnhart, DCX Solution Architect and Program Lead at Eaton, recalled, “All of our new global content must be in the customers’ native language. We have 13–16 in-house translators, but we actually need as many as 27. We try to use our internal teams when possible, but sometimes markets require the support of a TMS. If we get overloaded, we can lean on GlobalLink and get content out as fast as possible.”

Lufthansa’s Michael also shared, “Without GlobalLink, we couldn’t possibly have translated and localized everything within one year. All of the old content was being reviewed and evaluated, then salvaged and brought into the new system. The effort of moving content into English alone was a monumental task. To do this in 13 more languages just wouldn’t be possible for our team. Turnaround times really decreased due to automated uploads and downloads of translated content from our TMS.”

“We started very manually,” said Vicki, “which included cutting and pasting in spreadsheets and e-mails. There was no accountability and slow turnaround. With GlobalLink, we were able to automate tracking and reporting spend, which allowed us to grow exponentially as we acquired more companies. GlobalLink took most of that burden off our shoulders.”

Conclusion

Convincing management to make big investments up front and also have the patience to wait for the results of your grand strategy is difficult. Changing the way people work and behave is hard. “But the benefits of this strategy are there for everyone,” Michael said.

Eaton’s Patrick added, “It’s not just about having a pretty site but about creating a great user experience. Rolling 327 sites into one has given our distributors a great tool for their global sales team to reference and has been a major differentiator for us in our marketplace.”

“Automation has taken us to the next level with tracking, reporting, and training,” said Vicki. “We’ve seen at least a 50% decrease in turnaround times, especially for our technical publications. We manage a lot of our costs this way, and GlobalLink has been significantly helpful in that.”

“If you’re getting into new global markets, investing in a TMS such as GlobalLink is the only way,” said Koshy. “Communicating in customers’ native language brings major value.”

These insights and more are covered in the full recorded broadcast.

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