Does Your Company Have a Chief Localization Officer?

By Scott Yancey

A company’s success overseas is directly related to the number of languages the company ‘speaks,’ and how well its marketing team is able to localize and deliver content to target markets and regional sales teams. In order to reach 80% of the world’s economically active online audience, a company needs to deliver content in 14 different languages. That’s a lot of languages to reach a significant percentage of the buying audience. How will you maximize your product development, marketing and staffing dollars to effectively engage and sell overseas?

That’s where the Chief Localization Office comes in. To be clear, I’m not necessarily suggesting this as an actual C-Suite role; however, the need for a new kind of ‘lightning-rod’ leader or group that is able to influence the C-suite and advise them on the importance of an enterprise wide global roll out strategy is critical in today’s economy. Companies are spending more on translation and localization than ever before, and the numbers continue to grow – the global market for outsourced language services and supporting technology is expected to grow to $49.8 billion by 2019. Global organizations need a high-level authority responsible for global execution that includes localization as a strategic, revenue-generating process that affects:

  • Product launches and updates
  • Marketing campaigns, Websites and content
  • Social audience engagement
  • Sales enablement and channel support
  • Human resources and legal resources
  • Customer support and training

In order to up-level the importance and impact content localization has on audience reach and revenue, the Chief Localization Officer will ensure it is not only on the C-Suite’s radar, but a key revenue driving performance indicator (KPI) used to measure the success of the company’s go-to-market efforts.

The Chief Localization Officer’s responsibilities might include:

  • Responding to the Company Revenue plan by clearly understanding where each product, along with all the supporting company functions, can be effectively monetized.
  • Setting objectives and prioritizing cross company budgets to meet the required number of languages and dialects needed to address both existing and target markets.
  • Managing and leveraging the company’s multilingual assets, including translation memory, style guides, and corporate glossaries, so they are leveraged across ALL divisions, functional teams and regions for brand and message consistency.
  • Researching and identifying the best translation automation technology for the company’s needs and ensure it has the ability to integrate with the existing technology the company already uses (CMS, Web CMS, marketing automation, file-sharing service, etc.).
  • Overseeing the localization process to ensure bottlenecks are avoided, go-to-market timelines are met, and workflow is automated to maximize team productivity.
  • Utilizing analytics to monitor translation spend.
  • Analyzing ROI to ensure localization efforts are meeting objectives, whether they are sales, marketing or demand gen.

Managing multilingual communications on a global scale is increasingly challenging, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for every company, but a well managed, efficient localization process is critical to the success of any global launch process, day-to-day marketing, and training or support effort. It now deserves to be recognized as a business process in need of optimization with an elevated level of oversight and strategic intent. Typically, second and third tier target markets receive localized product and content many months after the English ‘launch’, and every day you can’t launch in those markets because localization wasn’t finished, inevitably leads to lost revenue and market share.

Does your company have a Chief Localization Officer? You might consider whether your competition already does.


Scott Yancey

CEO and Founder at Cloudwords, Inc.
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As the co-founder and chief executive office of Cloudwords, Scott Yancey runs the premier cloud-based software company that has revolutionized how businesses manage their global communications and localization processes.
In today’s increasingly connected world, selling and supporting customers in their local languages often means the difference between success and failure. Yancey developed Cloudwords’s end-to-end SaaS platform to enable companies to deliver global content to market faster by slashing the cost, complexity and time associated with localization projects.
Scott Yancey was a key architect on the salesforce.com platform and applications, and his technical leadership and expertise helped grow salesforce.com from 2,000 customers to an industry titan with 77,000 customers and $1.5 billion in annual revenue. His experience on the R&D frontlines during both the earliest and most explosive growth phases of salesforce.com forged a unique set of technical skills, best practices and historical knowledge. His roles included architecting and delivering mission critical areas of the salesforce.com service and he provided technical leadership at both the team and organizational level. He has 9 patents pending from his tenure at salesforce.com.
Scott graduated cum laude from Santa Clara University in 1999 with a degree in Psychology with an emphasis in Neuroscience. Prior to joining salesforce.com in 2001 Scott performed functional MRI research for a Neuroscience lab at New York University.