The old adage says that the most personal is the most universal, and it is this seemingly paradoxical idea perfectly describes the relation between localization and globalization
The somewhat confusing terms such as internationalization, globalization, localization, regionalization, even the freshly-coined portmanteau words such as glocalization to complicate thing further are all around us. Definitions of these terms are many depending on the context and particularly the field of study, but the lines between them are often blurred.
Going Local to Go Global
In the realm of language services and business and marketing in general, localization is the process of adaption of internationalized content, products or services, to foreign languages, markets and cultures. The internationalized content is the one that is ready to be adapted to any language or locale and this includes the user interfaces and navigation of software and websites.
The old adage says that the most personal is the most universal, and it is this seemingly paradoxical idea perfectly describes the relation between localization and globalization. Going global means conducting cross-border business activities and this in turn means composing and sending the message to wider audiences speaking different languages and living in different cultures, i.e. localizing.
Globalization is greater than the sum of its parts.
Localization and Future of International Business
It is plain to see that the process of globalization works on two levels – the level of internationalization and the level of localization. Creation of internationalized content, composition of message to be sent across the borders is the first phase, while the second one is localization to specific markets.
As per usual when it comes to complex systems, it is hard to determine which one is more important, as both levels are interconnected and interdependent, but it is safe to assume that globalization is greater than the sum of its parts. The key to success is in finding the perfect balance between the uniform, internationalized approach and the approach that respects and uses the advantages of international diversity.
Simply put, there are about 7000 languages in the world today, while the number of specific cultures and markets is even greater. Common sense says and market researches confirm that people generally respond better to the content written in their own language and in accordance with their own culture, while simple math says that having content localized to something over 80 languages to reach more than 80% of the world population.
Having the content localized to 7000 languages is what it takes to reach everyone on the planet. Not too hard to figure out where the future of international business is, right?