When does website localization become crucial?

Picture: Baltic Media

Tony Byrne

Whether website localization is becoming a necessity for enterprises depends a lot on the business model of the enterprise and how globalized, versus how local, they are. In other words, how much autonomy do the different regional teams have?

 We see a lot of different models in this regard, but if you are talking about a global enterprise, such as a large B2C or B2B brand, then localization is really table stakes because there are certain messages and information that have to be consistent across regions. Those are typically developed in a home country and then need to be propagated and localized. If it's technical information, branding or campaign information where there's a truly global element -- as opposed to local initiatives -- then you need localization capabilities within your web content management system. 

In terms of creating business value, it's fundamentally an efficiency story when you need to propagate information or messaging across lots of locales. Without any kind of automation it's going to become a total nightmare; it's going to involve lot of email going back and forth and tracking things through spreadsheets.
It's also a compliance issue now. With pharmaceuticals, biosciences and financial services, very often, you can't have something go live in one country without having it going live in others. That can put things on hold, while you're waiting for that last little bit of translation.

In Canada, for example, there are many sectors where the English version of Web content can't go live before the French version and vice versa. In that case localization is a critical point on the path to publishing. If you don't have systems in place to automate things, then your life is very messy and you can literally have multiple people whose full-time job is just traffic management.