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Digital Transformation Hoopla: What’s in It for LSPs?
Posted by Rebecca Ray on May 30, 2018  in the following blogs: Best Practices, Business Globalization, Global Marketing
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It’s almost impossible to open one’s email or social media feed without skimming one or more messages entreating the reader to “follow the path to digital transformation” or to “recognize how artificial intelligence (AI) is changing digital transformation.” But how much attention should LSPs pay to what’s going on in this area? CSA Research recently launched an initiative to find out. In the meantime, here’s what our preliminary results show.

  • Digital transformation is defined in slightly different ways across industries. Consumer products companies often refer to marketing content when discussing digital transformation, while auto parts and medical device manufacturers concentrate on operations and making content responsive. Regardless of the focus, the outcomes of these initiatives ultimately revolve around evolving how an organization conducts its business to remove as much human involvement as possible from routine and low-value tasks.

  • Content is the elephant in the room as executives deliberate how to proceed. Even as content becomes more strategic, very few companies have implemented enterprise-wide global content strategies or governance, let alone appointed a Chief Content Officer (CCO). Why? Because too few C-level executives are savvy when it comes to digital transformation or able to visualize how AI can help them achieve their goals – even for their home market. Many managers view this trend as simply a way to do the same thing, only better, rather than as truly transformative for their business. As a result, Chief Information Officers and Chief Digital Officers often don’t exploit AI to mine the words, images, and audio material in the preferred languages of their prospects, customers, and other stakeholders, and thus their firms miss out on reaping the total value of the content they create.

  • Companies need support to inject “global” into their digital transformation initiatives. The proof? How many emails or tweets mention anything about the international aspect of this evolution in how firms do business? You can probably count them on one hand. Yet, many medium- and large-sized firms depend on the hefty contribution from local markets to make their revenue numbers. Unless the executives leading digital transformation have access to the right input at the right time from strategic markets such as China, India, Germany, or Brazil, they can’t calculate or plan for the global ramifications of what they’re doing. Our research shows that adapting for international markets often requires a lot more than just translation. 

So, how can LSPs better prepare to sell services to clients preparing for or in the middle of transforming how they will do business in the future? Here are six areas to address as you evolve your offerings to become global content services provider:

  • Update your strategy to enable your organization’s own transformation. You cannot advise clients in this area if you have no experience meeting the same challenge within your own organization. We’re not only talking about automation here, but rather, your entire business model. How easy is it to deal with your organization without human intervention as a global customer? If you have already adopted lights-out project management, determined how to leverage the ongoing developments in neural machine translation, and are tracking the possible implications for harnessing artificial intelligence for your firm, you’re off to a good start. If not, assign someone to monitor these developments and to come up with ideas for how to integrate them into your business planning.

  • Rev up sales, marketing, and account management to take on the executive suite. To capture the business generated through digital transformation initiatives, your teams must be able to sell successfully at the senior director and VP levels or above. You can achieve this through new hires, training, and mentoring.

  • Adapt your operational model. Unless you already offer global content audits,  sentiment analysis, chatbot localization, and SEO for voice search, making the shift will require you to source, train, and maintain different expertise than in the past. You may also need to invest in additional automation or reconfigure current processes to support these new services.

  • Invest in change management with employees. Don’t overlook hidden talents within your organization. Once you have an idea of the additional expertise required to support digital transformation initiatives, survey staff and contractors to find out if they qualify. You may be surprised to find more resources than expected, but you’ll never know unless you ask.

  • Educate prospects and clients to prepare for this evolution. During every client debriefing and every serious sales opportunity going forward, find out what the company in question has planned around digital transformation. Ask for their definition, the executive driving it, the groups directly involved, and the roles being played by content / code / program creators and the localization team. If the reaction is a blank stare, seize the opportunity to highlight what you can do to help them get ready. If the client or prospect is fairly knowledgeable, probe to find out where they need help. If you don’t currently offer a service to solve a particular challenge, identify ways to develop one – even if it means partnering with other LSPs or business process outsourcing providers.

  • Above all, prepare for the unexpected. Our newest research shows that the experts in digital transformation are those companies that have made the most mistakes and learned from them. Be prepared for pilot projects to go sideways or not work as expected. As you support firms to move into new areas, encourage them to run small tests on just one product or service offering and adjust in an agile fashion. Plan for each client to exhibit its own unique requirements. Your job is to develop an approach flexible enough to meet their needs rather than selling a one-size-fits-all solution that requires a high level of customization. 

Organizations struggling with how to realize more value from their multilingual content with AI as they tackle digital transformation offer an opportunity for LSPs in their extended role as global content services providers. No one has a clearer understanding of how multilingual applies to content, whether it is controlled by a client or (auto-)generated elsewhere around the world in various formats and languages. This class of LSP has the potential to come to the rescue of companies that lack a CCO to guide them safely through their global digital transformation.


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