You might think that globalization simply means going global. While that’s not exactly wrong, it is drastically oversimplified as it does not reflect many challenges tied to thinking globally and acting locally. Leading globally, executing locally, and delighting personally is more accurate. The digital age makes globalization more relevant and sensitive than ever before. Digital success stories are gold mines—in which digital channels are the mines and digital content is the gold. Therefore, globalizing content is imperative in all markets that your company does business. Minimizing or overlooking globalization requirements up front is actually one of the major pitfalls global businesses face. Here’s how to avoid that mistake.

Articulate globalization as a robust framework propelling experiences, growth, and profits locally. It is not just one process or task. Global content activities—such as design, engineering, translation, localization, testing, or certification—are best managed within a set of integrated processes and best practices. Globalizing content and products in silos or in fragments often generates a lack of consistency, efficiency, and delivery. Globalization has to be more than an umbrella for translation and localization activities. It must be the engine powering proactive and predictive efforts to synchronize global content value chains with local product or service lifecycles. This means keeping pace with faster evolving marketplaces and exceeding local customer expectations consistently. Content and product globalization is like a factory producing customer experiences with a team of global business experts partnering with product leaders, marketing managers, heads of branding, and content ambassadors. Each person has his or her own talent, but all of them join forces to ensure continuous flows and uncompromised excellence. And they come before process and tools.

Educate your organization so that it learns about globalization dynamics, imperatives, and trends. The goal is to set and share the stage rather than to impose views. Here again, you cannot do it without clear alignment, cross-functional buy-in, and executive sponsorship. They are all necessary to obtain a solid globalization mandate. In many cases, you have to educate your external partners and suppliers—such as with the creative and language services industries. Rather than getting presentations and promotions on what these agencies or vendors do, many clients expect to be asked about their business issues first and get a value proposition that is in line with their answer next. Simply put, many businesses want their existing or future suppliers to create tangible value and become true business partners. The fact that some companies recently decided to revisit contracts with their external agencies—or to set up their own content factory or studio in house—has to do as much with missed aspirations as with disappointing cost-effectiveness. For some suppliers, it may imply closing gaps between production and sales activities by developing client consulting and professional services, first and foremost to understand customers while capturing and adding value.

Innovate by putting and keeping customers at the center of all globalization projects and programs. Delighting your evolving and demanding customers at a local level requires a great deal of innovation—even if it doesn’t sound like it. Technically speaking, innovation comes through refining your tools and systems. Redundant and overlapping workflows may create inconsistency, breaking customer experiences. Then comes the challenge of implementing one or two technology solutions that support globalization. The number of global content management solutions and professional services available in the market makes it difficult to decide which one can drive innovative content and best matches business needs. An integrated technology solution must help you focus on creating the most customer-centric content. You save time on company or product-centric information and enable content flows to connect with customers more directly. When reviewing translation management or other content management tools, bear in mind what you definitely need to make progress and deliver success at all times. Using data and machine learning remains helpful as long as it stretches your capacity and extends your capabilities to better delight customers. Otherwise, it is an internal benefit with an internal impact.

Differentiate your globalization efforts by standing out from the crowd internally as well as externally. Your content creation, translation, and localization achievements are likely to be considered content services. This low-level globalization positioning appears to be mostly operational, loosely connected with the organization and driving costs. It does not allow for any significant value creation since it remains hidden for a number of stakeholders. In order to better meet requirements and exceed expectations, you should consider two steps. To start, you should think about turning globalization into an international business enabler in order to plan, fund, and resource activities up front so that they are reflected in road maps and blueprints. As a result, it becomes more tactical and is fueled by a dedicated or shared cost center. Next, you have to establish globalization resources as business partners, leading a framework to drive growth and profits across all targeted markets. Customer experiences are at the core of a new operational, tactical, and strategic approach that is integrated with all functions in the organization. It must happen in a collaborative, gradual, bold, and horizontal way to avoid creating a silo. This journey to strengthen recognition and efficiency applies to suppliers that are willing to go the extra mile. At a time when value optimization is a major selection filter, agencies and vendors are more likely to win and expand business with their clients if they go above and beyond the baseline.