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Mistakes to Avoid When Going Global

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Mistakes to Avoid When Going Global

This is a repost of an article by Rob Vandenberg that originally appeared in Business Insider.


These Mistakes Will Kill Your Company's Prospects When Trying To Go Global

In today's interdependent world economy, globalization must be approached with great thought, care and tenacity. Yet many companies march into foreign markets with a Napoleonic mindset, trying to force their way into a win, when they really need develop effective, cultural strategy and establish a respect for the nuances of their battle.

The mistakes outlined here apply to all shapes and sizes of business, from the little guys to multinational giants. Avoid them, and your global prospects will be a lot brighter.

Thinking strategy is for suckers. 
Entering a new market without customized plan increases your risk of failure. Before opening up shop in a new country, have good answers to the following questions: Why will consumers buy your products instead of those of the local competition? What is your long-term plan to stay and thrive in your market of choice? How does your entry plan into one market fit into your overall globalization scheme? How can you use what you already have rather than recreate the wheel?

In 2009, McDonald's found out the hard way that thriving in Iceland requires more than scale and a name. When the Krona collapsed in 2009, McDonald's, which imported all of its ingredients, could no longer afford to stay in business in Iceland. The McDonald's case shows that building a strategy according to your target market, and covering that market's unique contingencies, can make or break success.

My way or the highway. 
"Avoid embarrassment - use Parker Pens." That was once the slogan of the Parker Pen company, a US-based manufacturer in business since 1888. But, as Adam Wooten writes in his article on the company, what works in one market doesn't necessarily work everywhere (Disclosure: Wooten now works for Lingotek):

"…When Parker Pen decided to enter the Latin American market, it translated the slogan into Spanish as "Avoid pregnancy — use Parker Pens," apparently using the false cognate 'embarazar' or 'embarazo.'"

To avoid similar embarrassment—or worse—take time to understand customer preferences, not to mention their language, before opening your doors in a foreign country.

Ignoring local talent. 
Mixing in local talent with experienced expats removes cultural, linguistic, networking and management barriers. Locals have connections with local businesses, government and the community. An expat-only team, while equipped with an intimate understanding of company culture and direction, comes with a steeper learning curve.

One worst-case scenario comes from the failure of the American Internet megacorporations—Google, Yahoo, eBay and Amazon—in China. An IT Times article, translated here from the Chinese (Hyperlink:, lists ten major mistakes the Americans made in their attempts to conquer the Chinese Internet market, including avoidance of person-to-person contact, passive advertising, focusing on a white-collar market—and recruiting the wrong people.

"The recruiting process of the international Internet companies emphasized … similar ways of communication and the agreed-upon untold rules," writes the Times. "[These companies hired] people from Hong Kong and Taiwan or people [with an] overseas educational background. They were all similar. No wonder [the companies' failed] strategies passed without any argument."

Underestimating the time and money needed.
 The time and financial commitment for a global strategy can be heady. The overhead of launching and adapting your strategy, combined with the inevitable surprises and costs, might put you in a sticker-shock situation. Whether this situation is fatal depends on how deep your pockets are. Tiffany& Co., the beloved US jeweler, found out only after launching its boutique-style China stores that Chinese consumers prefer shopping in large venues with many different shops. Tiffany's cozy, simple, standalone stores, designed for US preferences, were seen as undesirable. Perhaps Tiffany can afford a complete cultural revamp, but could you? The question is worth pondering.

Going at it alone. 
It worked for MacGyver, but that doesn't mean it will work for you. Many business-to-business supplier scams take place in the United States; imagine that craftiness transposed on a foreign culture. It pays to establish solid, trustworthy partnerships in the countries you plan on penetrating. Good relationships with your suppliers, buyers, resellers and potential customers help you establish yourself more quickly while mitigating the number of mistakes you might make.

In an increasingly complex global marketplace, the biggest and strongest players won't necessarily win. It pays to care—about strategy, partnerships and the nature of the marketplace. As the mistakes above show, thinking, rather than bulldozing, will put you on the fast track to global success.


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The Massive Benefits of Cloud-Based Translation Management System

Language is social. It connects people and ideas. But what happens when it stops connecting, slows down, and goes offline? What happens when your global audience is left in the dark because your translations are stuck in someone’s inbox? 

With the Translation Network, Lingotek makes your content accessible to your customers globally. By connecting your company with our technology and translators, we connect your ideas with the world. Lingotek makes going global possible.

Cloud Based Translation is Faster, Easier & More Efficient 
Lingotek revolutionized the translation industry with its cloud-based networked translation technology. With Lingotek, you get an enterprise-grade, end-to-end solution that you control. Bring your translation workflow into the 21st century and get out from under the old-school, on-premise, traditional IT, and proxy architectures that slow you down and increase your costs with budget-busting implementation processes and ongoing maintenance.

Agile Software That Offers Scalability and Responsive IT
Our next-generation technology continuously delivers multilingual content and scalability to meet your increasing needs for more content, storage, and translation management. Lingotek’s cloud-based technology can extract large amounts of data and scale to any project size on the fly. With our agile software, Lingotek can be more responsive and can match your evolving requirements with fast IT. 

Seamless Integration With Your Applications
Seamless integration with your enterprise applications and our translation management system lets you upload source content for translation, have it automatically translated, and download the translated content back into your original application.

Automated Workflows Put Your Translations on Autopilot
Put your translations on autopilot with customizable workflows that let you trigger actions throughout the project lifecycle. From notifying a reviewer when a translation is ready for review, to reporting project status to an external system, the Lingotek rules engine brings AI-like capabilities to your workflow.    

Continuous, Real-Time Collaboration for Round-the-Clock Translation
With a vast network of translators working in our powerful cloud-based translation management system, you get continuous, round the clock translation and real-time collaboration.

Centralized File Management Gives You Control Over Your Content
Out-of-the-box integrations with popular CMS, CRM, marketing automation, knowledge bases, and social business software means your information resides in your system, giving you visibility, access, security, and control of your files and information.

Scalable File Storage to Match Your Growth
Our cloud-based Translation Network offers scalability that auto-scales to increased volume levels, without no additional charge for more file storage. It  can scale as your usage grows. 
Secure Your Information With Controlled Access to Files
Content stored in the Lingotek cloud is fully secured and kept private to your organization. Role-based authorization ensures that users only see information if they have been granted access by your project administrator.





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About Lingotek

Our Company

Lingotek | The Translation Network is a cloud-based translation services provider, offering translation management software and professional linguistic services. We are the leader in collaborative translation technology with an innovative cloud translation management system (TMS) that uses computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools to facilitate faster, more efficient, language translation. Lingotek was the first to introduce cloud-based TMS technology to the United States in 2006 with the launch of a fully online, web-based, computer-assisted translation (CAT) system that pioneered the integration of translation memories (TM) with main-frame powered machine translation (MT). Our multilingual application program interfaces (API) and connectors pair with the industry’s top enterprise applications to automate and integrate the translation process. They include:

  • Content Management Systems (CMS) 
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  • Knowledge Bases 
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Customers can use their own language services providers (LSP) and linguists, or our global network of 5,000+ professional linguists. Lingotek is based in Lehi, Utah in the area known as Silicon Slopes. 

Our History

Lingotek was founded in 2006 and is funded by Signal Peak Ventures and In-Q-Tel

Signal Peak Ventures is a Salt Lake-based venture capital firm that focuses on early-stage technology investments in the Intermountain region. The firm was established as Signal Peak in 2011 after the spin out of Canopy Ventures venture capital team and the acquisition of portfolio investments in ten other companies. The Signal Peak team has extensive experience in sourcing, executing, managing, and divesting venture capital stakes across the Intermountain region. 

In-Q-Tel is a strategic, not-for-profit investment firm that works to identify, adapt, and deliver innovative technology solutions to support the mission of the U.S. Intelligence Community. Launched by the CIA in 1999 as a private, independent organization, In-Q-Tel's mission is to identify and partner with companies developing cutting-edge technologies that serve the national security interests of the United States. Working from an evolving strategic blueprint defining the Intelligence Community's critical technology needs, In-Q-Tel engages with entrepreneurs, growth companies, researchers, and investors to deliver technologies that provide superior capabilities for the CIA and the larger Intelligence Community. 

Our Clients & Partners

Lingotek  works with some of the largest, most innovative companies in the world, in a wide variety of industries and services including government, technology, finance, telecom, travel, and education. Our clients include departments in the U.S. Government and several large Fortune 500 companies. Here are some of the Customers that are trusting their translation processes with the Lingotek Translation Network.

We also work with a growing network of Partners--service providers, digital agencies, open sources technologies, and other strategically selected companies--to meet the unique translation requirements of our customers. 

Industry Recognition & Awards

Comparably Best Company Leadership 2018
Comparably Best Company Managers 2018
Top 100 Companies in the Digital Content Industry - EContent 2017-2018
Comparably Best Company Leadership 2017
Comparably Best Company Culture 2017
Comparably Best Places to Work 2017
Comparable Best CEO - Rob Vandenberg 2017
Utah Business Book of Lists Top Telecom & Technology Software Developers 201
Utah Best in State Language Services 201
Silicon Review List of Inspiring 100 Companies 201
Top 100 Companies in the Digital Content Industry - EContent 201
Top 30 Drupal Contributor 201
Top Translation Services Company 2016 - PFin
Hot in Lehi Award Top Trending Companies - Owle
Top 100 Companies in the Digital Content Industry - EContent 201
Edison Award Finalist 201
CIO Microsoft 100 Solution Providers CIO Review 201
Edison Award Nominee 201
Gartner Cool Vendor of the Year 201
Oracle Gold Partner 201
Stevie Award Best New Product or Service of the Year SaaS Category 201
Most Innovative New Product Utah Valley Entrepreneur Forum 2006

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