Internet of Things Opportunities – International and Foreign Markets

There are more than 3 billion people using 12 billion connected devices today and the IDC estimates that by 2020 there will be 26 times more connected things than people.

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That’s a lot of things. But what languages do those devices, gateways, websites, products, services, messages, portals – speak? And what is the customer experience like as they interoperate from one-touch point to the next in their journey from shopper to advocate? Is it seamless? Or, for them, is it like trying to navigate a truck through small streets in a foreign country?

If you you’re so not sure, just sign up for any of your companies products or services on the web – but do so as if you were a customer from another country, and you will see very quickly where the experience gaps are – both in functionality and in-language understanding. Doing this exercise is what LingPerfect calls an LoT (Language of Things) Assessment.

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From my experience working with global 5,000 companies managing translation projects spanning ecommerce, product development, customer support, and marketing, these groups have developed systems over time that have evolved in isolation. Because they’re not often linked they don’t provide a non-English speaking customer a great experience as they are using that product or service. In some cases, even the glossary of terms used on the product FAQ is different than the landing page.

Even with these clear predictions of how many more things will be connected, most global businesses are many miles away from having integrated translation process across their organization to support the people who use those things. Most global companies approach translation in an ad-hoc way, with too many vendors, too many redundant processes, and inevitably there are mistakes. Even a typo can cost millions. Many companies deal with situations where their products are mistranslated, the text doesn’t fit in the space allotted on the device or screen, the customer service doesn’t support the language or time-zone, or the app just doesn’t work in Chinese – for example.

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And as business move from B2C (Business to Consumer) to B2I (Business to Individual) where each communication is customized and personalized, the language that customer speaks and reads is critical for a successful transmission of information – and ultimately a great customer experience.

5 Steps to Making Your IoT Project Global-ready
[1] Make language options core to the development process. For many development teams I talk to, language is still an AFTERTHOUGHT. Make sure your team is following I18N (Internationalization) best practices when developing code. Your graphics should also be localizable, so establish the graphic standards that would allow each country or region to slug-in their local images and graphics while maintaining brand voice.

[2] Take a USER customer-centric point of view. “User’s” are so 80’s. Today, if you treat your customers like “Users”, they will become your competitors customers fairly soon. But I digress. As you look at your customer journey, click-by-click, step-by-step, you may notice a few Touchpoints that have not been translated or translated partially. Just because the web app is developed by one team, and the web site is developed by another team inside your organization, doesn’t mean you can’t integrate the experience for your customer. Take a customers point of view and make sure you map out every possible touch-point while interacting with your products.

[3] Use machine translation to analyze big data. Many business today CAN’T ANALYZE OR REACT to Foreign Language Big Data. As a global organization you’re on the receiving end of terrabytes of customer data, and many businesses don’t yet have a process to store, track, analyze and make sense of the galaxy of in-language data that is being generated by their global customers. (i.e. what do you do with 12 gigs of Spanish customers comments? Or 21 gigs of Chinese?) Use a customized Machine Translation engine per language to first neutralize the data, so that you can analyze the sentiment or the situations with a market-by-market lens.

[4] Use professional translation services to adapt your content. Machine Translation (MT) alone CANNOT SOLVE the language problem your organization has with supporting the Foreign IoT. While there may be some use cases where you can use MT, for example incoming emails, chat, and reviews, most of what you want to publish to your customers needs to be translated so well, that they won’t even know that it was translated. The app, the page, the welcome message, the diagnostics screen – should all read like it was written in the language of your customer – which, by the way, according to Common Sense Advisory is the only language they will buy in.

[5] Integrate Translation Services into your process. In years past, global companies could get away with going about translations in an ad-hoc way. But to support the next wave of connected product and service innovations that your organization is relying on the success of, you will need to also integrate Translation as a Service (TaaS) into your organization so every group has access to the same translation process and terminology.