Photo: Lachlan Hardy via flickr
537 million people use the Web in English. 445 million use it in Chinese. Yet the vast majority of users, 985 million people1, navigate the Web in other languages.”Although every website is global from the moment it goes live, few are designed with the world in mind,” says author John Yunker2.
Companies miss crucial opportunities if they don’t address a global audience. Research shows that people prefer to visit websites written in their own language.
A Eurobarometer survey3, for example, found that 90% of European website users will always visit a website in their own language if they are offered a choice. Only 53% of users would choose to use an English website in place of one in their own language. Up to 60% of users who did navigate to an English language website expressed missing interesting information. In some countries, users only watch and read online content in their own language. This reluctance extends to buying products. A paltry 18% of users surveyed said they would “frequently or always buy products in a foreign language.”
Millennials Are Revolutionizing Work and the Web
Businesses ignore translation and localisation at their own peril. The rise of the Millennial generation underlines the need for these tools. People under the age of 30 comprise more than half of the world’s population. The majority of Millennials live in China, Africa, South America, and other countries with per-capita incomes of less than $1,000 per year. More than half4 of the users in China, which is expected to surpass the U.S. in terms of Internet users by 20135, are under the age of 25. Most U.S. Internet users are between 18-29 years old, according to a December 2010 Pew Internet survey.
Millennials are poised to make big changes to the global economy. The world is facing a peak population of 9.7 billion estimated for the middle of the century6. oDesk is the largest and fastest growing online marketplace connecting career contractors globally. With 1.4 million contractors globally (spanning 150 countries), they are a prime example of a company that is breaking borders (literally) as the world marches towards globalization in the workplace. Now everyone has the opportunity to live the entrepreneurial dream, no matter what location. As an entrepreneurial group, Millennials harness widespread access to information and markets to collaborate internationally. oDesk gives entrepreneurs the ability to tap into a global talent pool of remote workers to build out global teams. Lower equipment costs, improved telecommunications infrastructure, and widespread mobile adoption around the world have ensured that almost everyone can connect easily and cheaply. Income no longer presents an insurmountable barrier to entry.
In many ways, big organisations are on the same page as Millennials. A hypercompetitive economy has forced corporations to decrease their response times around both market and stakeholder needs. As a result, collaboration has to be efficient and take place on a global scale. Corporations have flattened their organizational hierarchies and become more flexible. Offshoring and outsourcing have led to a more diverse, multilingual global workforce, even within the same organisation.
Meeting Translation Needs
International collaboration is a must in the modern, Millennial-driven economy. Still, most translation options are one-size-fits-all solutions that don’t address a company’s unique needs. Hiring a good human translator is the traditional course of action. But at an industry-standard rate of 23 cents per word, the average millennial entrepreneur, who probably comes from a country with a low per-capita income, wouldn’t foot the cost. Considering how quickly content ages online, the time it takes to find the right translator, communicate the parameters of the project, find a project manager, wait for the translator to finish, then correct the content could cost a company its competitive position.
Machine translation is fast and free but it doesn’t guarantee quality. The solution lies in combining the speed and low price of machine translation with the expertise of humans. Lingotek, a collaborative translation platform, leverages both technology and crowds to create custom translation solutions for its clients. When users submit a website to Lingotek, a combination of software and humans will analyse and customise translations to match the level of importance of the customer’s content. Instead of applying a uniform solution to unique needs, companies can match the workflow to the job. It’s also cost-effective. EBay, for example, was able to translate one million words for 2.5 cents per word using Lingotek.
Millennials and multinationals alike benefit from fast, accurate and cost-effective translation. In the new global economy, massive international collaboration is a core facet of doing business. The need for localised content and translation is no longer a luxury. It’s a bare necessity.
1 Miniwatts Marketing Group, Internet World Stats Usage and Population Statistics <http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm>
2 UX Magazine, “Global by Design: Creating a World-Ready Web Design,” April 28, 2011 <http://uxmagazine.com/design/global-by-design>
3 Wall Street Journal, “European Web Users Demand Local Language Sites,” May 23, 2011
4 Marbridge Daily, “CNNIC: China’s Young Internet Users Reach 195 Mln,” April 26, 2010 <http://www.marbridgeconsulting.com/marbridgedaily/2010-04-26/article/35444/cnnic_chinas_young_internet_users_reach_195_mln>
5 Forrester Forecast, “Global Online Population To Hit 2.2 Billion By 2013,” July 21, 2009 <http://www.forrester.com/ER/Press/Release/0,1769,1296,00.html>
6 Rob Salkowitz “Why the Future of Business Depends on the Young World Rising” July 7, 2010 <http://changethis.com/manifesto/show/72.02.YoungWorldRising>
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