The digital age and the technological revolution are here today! These are not some distant science fiction dreams, but a very stark reality in the here and now. Even before the unprecedented measures for coronavirus crisis handling around the world, automation, digitization and localization were necessary tools for the survival of any online business. Translation agencies around the world began working overtime from home after the Covid-19 pandemic in order to aid in bringing the global medical crisis to a successful conclusion.
Translation agencies and certified interpreters working in more traditional office settings were forced to isolate, practice social distancing and otherwise prevented from doing their work, even though the need for certified medical translators was so high, especially in the early days of the global Covid-19 outbreak. Translation agencies who were already digitized with work-from-home translators and video interpreters working as remote language service providers, easily avoided any detrimental impact from the coronavirus epidemic.
Until the imminent threat of the coronavirus has ended, more and more people are working online, but as was previously noted, this was already an ongoing trend. In the digital age, there are going to be two primary considerations for any business that wishes to survive. However, yet again, the global medical crisis has made these issues all the more pressing. Businesses need to digitize and localize if they are to have any chance to survive. The only remaining question is how can this be accomplished, and how to continue operations in those areas that cannot be digitized.
Covid-19 and the Imminent Economic Recession
It is never a good idea to focus solely on the problems at hand. There will always be problems to be contended with, and focusing on any problem for too long will inevitably prevent any viable solution from being discovered. All that being said, there is always a need to focus on the problem long enough to identify and quantify the areas of concern in order that meaningful and effective solutions can be enacted. Thus, let us define the current economic concerns so that we can focus together on effective, long-term business solutions.
Looking at the overall unemployment figures for March of 2020, the rate sits at about 4.4%. This in itself is surprisingly good, especially considering the rise in unemployment due to the global medical crisis. What is terribly bad news according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, is that the agricultural and related sectors are currently sitting at 8.3% and the leisure and hospitality sector is sitting at 8.1%. In short, there is soon likely to be a very major crisis in the availability of food, and in an unprecedented move, the world is about to experience the very first recession that began in the service sector of industry. So what does that mean?
The super-rich tend to invest in very large investments, creating and driving industry and production. This is perfectly normal and as a rule, serves both the individual and the national economies. The heart and soul of the economic system however, revolves around the circulation of currency within the economy. The super-rich people do contribute in this fashion, perhaps more so than the average middle class worker, but the sheer volume is where this becomes more gloomy. The vast number of small and medium sized businesses are not equipped to deal with an extended financial economic recession, so lay people off.
These are the people who serve at the very center of a circulatory economic system. In short, no money, no honey as the old saying goes. When nobody has any money to spend and there is no product available to purchase, the picture begins to get ugly. As it has never happened before, the end result can only be based on speculation, but the economic forecast does not look as bright as it did a mere couple of months ago.
The Bright Side of the Digitization and Localization of Business
Those businesses that had already automated and digitized proved to be very resilient in terms of their ability to continue functioning. In fact, some online businesses such as translation agencies that worked almost entirely in a digitized environment, were in a unique position to expand their business interests despite the ongoing global Covid-19 pandemic, or in some cases, because of the coronavirus outbreak.
For any business to survive in the present day and age, as much of the operation as possible should be established as an online business, focusing on localization as a means by which it can expand its digital footprint and its share of the available marketplace. While there are a great many benefits to conducting business online, among the most promising are the additional savings associated with remote employees working from home, and the ability to reach a more global marketplace to further the profitable nature of business online for the company.
The Benefits of Working from Home
The average company, not just the translation agencies and the video interpreters working online, but any company, will save roughly eleven thousand US dollars per year for each employee working from home according to this article in The Hill website. For some of the larger companies with entire departments such as accounting and IT working from home, in addition to their strategic use of remote language service providers for their international affairs, these savings per employee are substantial.
Even for a small company, the ability to have ten or twenty employees working from home can still create an impressive savings and an increase in the bottom line and profitability for the company.
While studies like this one from the Singapore Straits Times website do show an initial decrease in productivity for employees working from home for the first time, there are also additional studies that indicate that overall, employee productivity rises with work from home employees. Fortunately, there are also studies that indicate that those companies that do have a viable outline and policies in place for remote service providers, also show a marked increase in production, efficiency and output.
This is in large part the reason that those medical translation services, video interpreters and other remote language service providers were able to make substantial gains with the outbreak of the global Covid-19 pandemic, despite its devastating impact on many other businesses. Since these translation agencies already had policies in place and remote translators and interpreters, there was no period of adjustment necessary, and production could be increased merely by hiring more translators to work from home.
Determine Remote Employees and Responsibilities
For more traditional businesses, there must be some determination made about which employees can and should be working from home as remote service providers. “Learn to Code” became a popular meme due to the fact that many coders, in addition to others within the IT departments of many major corporations are allowed (or required as the case may be) to work from home as remote employees. Accounting is another department where many employees may be eligible to work from home, or even to allow for such services to be outsourced to a third party remote service provider.
At such a time as it has been decided exactly how many employees are eligible to work from home, care should be taken to ensure that the policies put in place for managing remote employees are based on realistic goals and standards. While this may sound easy enough, some HR departments may have a new challenge having to manage remote employees for the very first time. A concise and precise set of remote employee policies will allow for a smoother transition as the company adjusts, making remote workers the norm rather than the exception.
Localization and Digital Business Expansion
In the case of businesses that can go largely, if not completely digital, such as the translation agencies and video interpreting services noted before, there is a lot to be gained doing business online. Among the biggest advantages is a virtually immediate introduction to a global audience, at least with the proper online presence.
The company website serves as the digital storefront for the digital company. This is the means by which the target audience can be convinced to come in and conduct business. The newly digitized company may believe that with a simple website translation, the website is now ready to gain them a larger share of the global markets. Unfortunately, the reality is a little bit more involved than that, but it also opens up many opportunities to employ localization strategies in conjunction with the website translation, that together will speak to the target market on a very personal, even emotional level.
Such communications generally will allow for the digital business online to induce a more favorable, positive response from their target markets. This in turn will mean that the target audience will be more likely to perform the desired action, whether it be signing up to an email marketing campaign or clicking the all-important “buy now” button. While the website translation services focus on making sure that the company speaks to the audience in a more general language they understand, the localization strategies are where the personality of the company begins to shine.
How to Develop Successful Localization Strategies
In terms of the website translation, localization strategies may focus on a larger scale, but it would still be a good idea to begin implementing your localization strategies at this stage. It may be a good idea to hire a translation agency that also specializes in globalization. In this way, not only will you be assured of having an accurate and meaningful translation, but also working with someone who has a keen cultural and even historical understanding of the language pairs and the people on both ends of the translation.
A reference in any website content that discusses a barbecue grilling steaks and burgers may be fine for some markets, though in other markets, when translated however, it may be a good idea to discussing gathering with street vendors who peddle food on the streets, or the inclusion of other popular past times, foods and venues.
Website content being translated into another language may reference particular landmarks that are near and dear to the hearts of the people in the original language, but that may be unknown to the foreign targeted market. The process of website translation allows for this more particular content to undergo localization, now pointing towards more popular and well-known locales in the targeted nations.
Localization services also focus on scale. In terms of website localization, as this is the digital storefront, the website content and localization strategies focus on the larger, more broad domestic language. More specific areas of the website will focus on more localized content, for example a focus on American markets as opposed to markets in the United Kingdom. Despite both locations having a common language, each nation has specific linguistic characteristics that set them apart at the same time.
As the website content and other materials become more focused, so too should the localization strategies. A geographically limited advertisement run in California may discuss gluten free pizzas where the same advertisement run in the Northeastern US may focus more on Italian style pizza pies. Not only is the local vernacular different, but so are the local preferences, the local cultures and even the local landmarks. Using these more precise demographic specifics will again, allow for a much more emotional and personal relationship to be developed between the online business and their potential customer base.
While there are no guarantees in the world of business, there are always precautions that can be taken and marketing efforts that should be pursued. The digitization of business is virtually a necessity in the world today. The idea that the digitization should be both cost-saving and beneficial to the company in terms of profitability and production should not be lost.
Add in the potential to have literally the whole world as a potential customer base, and yes, digitization and properly implemented translation services and localization strategies should help you to ensure that your business survives the global Covid-19 pandemic. Furthermore, even if the economic recession does turn out to be true, you and your business will not only have a better chance of survival, but perhaps even an opportunity to come out a good step ahead of the competition.