"Not as flat as it used to be": Globalization Hits a Roadblock?

April 28, 2008 at 4:29 pm | Posted in Content Management, Globalization | Leave a comment

I was having breakfast this morning before going to work to prepare for my telebriefing tomorrow on The Role of Enterprise Content Management in Content Globalization/Localization when I opened my Wall St. Journal (4/28/08 page A1; link) to read that nationalism may be thwarting globalization.  The article by Bob Davis points out that while globalization was supposed to be inevitable (hence the WSJ’s reference to Thomas Friedman’s famous globalization manifesto), nationalism and protectionism seem to be on the rise.

Trade talks are shelved.  Barriers to foreign investment are rising around the world. State-owned companies are expanding, particularly in oil and gas. Public support of immigration restriction is growing in countries from the U.S. to India.

So what do I say tomorrow about the need for IT organizations to get involved in content globalization and localization efforts?  I think I’m still on track in saying that there is a sharp increase in content globalization occurring and that IT can help.  It’s possible that some expansion plans in industries that could be brought under state control (energy and foodstuffs in particular) could be put on hold.  But for other industries, the drivers of IT involvement in globalization efforts that I discuss in my telebriefing are still very relevant.  These include:

  • Containing or reducing costs: Whatever degree of globalization occurs, there will be a need to contain globalization costs
  • Clarification of central and local control through governance: If power shifts are occurring and barriers are rising between central and local branches, governance takes on increasing importance
  • Timing/responsiveness: The uncertainty of the globalization landscape places even more emphasis on an organizations ability to react quickly to changes
  • Safeguarding brand image: Increased nationalism means increased attention must be paid to local culture and customs, so proper translation and QA processes become more important for a deeper swath of content
  • Improving consistency: As with safeguarding brand image, inconsistent translations will have increased risk of harming the brand
  • Need to handle increased complexity: Potential increases in regulation will increase the need for complex workflow that can handle documents based upon content typing

I’m not a politician or economist, so I’m (way) out of my element in predicting what effecting nationalism, protectionism, and a global backlash may have on international relations.  The article isn’t saying the slowdown is definite, but a possibility when certain threads in the news are connected.  But from an enterprise content management perspective I think the globalization storm is looking even more vicious than before.

Note: This is a cross-posting from the Collaboration and Content Strategies blog

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