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How to Establish an Enterprise Globalization Strategy Across Your Company

6 globalization takeaways from the GALA webinar

Globalization should be the backbone of any global strategy, but most companies are struggling to implement globalization in the most effective way. Anna Schlegel, Vice President of the Global Portfolio-to-Market Lifecycle at NetApp, has built one of the most successful globalization teams today.

Schlegel has led globalization, product life cycle and content strategy teams for over 25 years at companies like Cisco, VMware and Xerox. Her book Truly Global looks at how large companies work internally to successfully place their products across different cultures and languages. Today, Schlegel works at NetApp, a Fortune 500 cloud data services and data management company, serving customers in 143 countries and supporting more than 150 products.

In a recent webinar hosted by GALA, Schlegel, also a co-founder of Women in Localization, and Jill Goldsberry, Enterprise Sales Director for Lionbridge, discussed the importance of designing a globalization strategy and how to integrate these strategies across the enterprise to ensure winning products in any market.

Below, we list six key takeaways from the webinar that Schlegel outlined. Watch a full replay of the webinar here.

#1: Globalization means rallying the entire enterprise.

Taking a company global is so much bigger than just localizing marketing strategies. Ensure your strategy—which should be company-wide—will resonate with your local customers. Rally the whole organization behind globalization, and partner with high-quality localization and internationalization vendors. External partners are necessary to ensure that your long-term global strategy is executed successfully.  

#2: Embed localization within the product life cycle.

Globalization can often be thought of as something that occurs at the end of a product life cycle, but to globalize an offering or product effectively, it needs to be included in the planning from the very beginning. Embedding localization, internationalization and global pricing needs to happen at all different stages of product development. “To me, just thinking about marketing or product development is neither ideal nor sustainable, and it won't keep or take the company rankings to number 1,” Schlegel said.

Instead, Schlegel created a team to embed not only globalization but all GTM (Go-To-Market) services within the product development cycle. “Now, I can tell you that globalization is there from the very beginning, and it is not an afterthought. We are having those conversations now at the right time,” she said.

#3: Start localizing early.

More and more relatively new companies realize the importance of globalization. “They’re already going global, and they don’t even know what localization is, but they use their global workforce so much better!” Schlegel said. Language partners like Lionbridge are constantly improving and expanding their services, and localization is easier than ever as newer workflows and AI are there to speed things up. Newer generations are already ready to globalize and have the tools to do so, while more traditional and older companies oppose globalization or do not understand the power of globalizing. More modern companies tend to understand the importance of globalization faster.

#4: Advocate for localization within your organization.

When Schlegel first arrived at NetApp, she knew she needed to show how localization was crucial to growing revenue. To emphasize the importance of communicating in other languages, she walked into an executive meeting speaking German instead of English. She then pointed out all the non-English-speaking markets where NetApp was underperforming, illustrating how NetApp was missing out on large areas of business by not providing multilingual content. Once the executives understood the importance of investing in localization, Schlegel was able to help NetApp realize success around the globe.

Advocating for localization may differ depending on your audience. Craft an elevator pitch, but tailor it to who you’re speaking to, particularly if they might not be aware of the work that localization and translation teams do. “You need to meet them where they are and build from there. Don’t go in pretending they will know what you are talking about,” Schlegel said.

#5: Embrace collaboration.

After convincing NetApp to invest in globalization, Schlegel pulled together key players from around the company, including the web team, sales operations, the strategy office and the head of brand, to determine the future of localization for the company. In 12 sessions, the team was able to envision what needed to be done to effectively localize across departments and channels.

Within a team, delegate different globalization tasks to the most effective person for the job. “Who in my team can tell the story the best,” Schlegel said. “It doesn’t have to be me.” Build a strong team where each person brings their own strengths and can communicate effectively across cultures and time zones. Each member of the team needs to advocate for globalization at every level of the business and keep projects moving.  

#6: Keep it concise.

Globalization experts work with a wide variety of teams, so keep meetings, emails and slide decks short and to the point. Before a meeting, Schlegel recommends outlining the agenda using the POST system­­—the purpose of the call, the objective of the call, the strategy they will use and how much time they will need. “There’s nothing like preparing,” she said. Tell the story yourself, instead of relying on slides to do it for you, and be conscious of your audience's time.

Want to learn more about how to globalize effectively? Watch the webinar here

To learn more about globalization, visit Schlegel’s website for interviews and press on different globalization topics. 

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