We hear these two words a lot: Globalization and Internationalization. In this article, we will skip the macroeconomic side of these two concepts and concentrate on what they mean for companies, and more specifically in terms of the implications on the languages used during the globalization and internationalization processes.
While businesses go global, as an obligation of their growth in today’s heavily connected world, they have to undertake structured steps, define strategies, adapt their products, their websites to the markets they are willing to conquer. The use of the right products go in pair with the use of the right language.
In this article, we will define Globalization and Internationalization from a language service provider perspective, and try to understand the differences between the two under our Globalization vs Internationalization paragraph.
Globalization, also known as “g11n”, is the process of interaction and integration among people, companies, and governments around the world. Globalization has quickened since the eighteenth century thanks to the advances in transportation and communication technologies.
In the technology and data sector, globalization definition is the process of preparing the products and services in a way that would resonate with the global audience. It is about creating a framework on which you can build easily. For instance, if you are willing to break into the Arabic market, your content should be from right to left. Being in close relation with localization, globalization’s main purpose is to adapt a product or service to a global audience. Everyone working on the product, including creators, designers, and developers, should be involved in this process.
There are many benefits of globalization but one single and most important one is, it helps you break into new markets, successfully.
Let’s take a look at a couple of globalization examples:
1) Amazon and eBay make it easy to buy products from individuals and businesses on the other side of the planet. 2) Large restaurant chains like McDonald’s successfully operate in dozens of countries. They make changes in their offers depending on the differences in the cuisine of the country they operate in. This includes removing and adding products. If McDonald’s had offered McBacon in a Muslim country, almost no one would step in, right? 3) Netflix operates in more than 190 countries. They offer customized content for almost every market they operate in. 4) YouTube, needless to say, actively operates in any country that has an internet connection. Their ads and recommendations are highly customized per each individual. The country trends are taken into account for sure.
Internationalization is the process of preparing a product, service, web content or application to the localization stage. Internationalization is often written in English as i18n, where 18 is the number of letters between i and n in the English word “internationalization” (you can count the letters, there are 18 of them). Developing a well-rounded internationalization strategy is a crucial element of expanding to new markets. It also plays a significant role in executing the localization process.
Internationalization can include but is not limited to: creating space in user interfaces, making graphics with examples for documents, using tools that are able to give support to international character sets, and avoiding hard-coding the text in buttons. In short, preparing your concept, your product, your service, and tweaking every necessary item in your content to enter a new market. The more adaptable you are, the better are your chances of success in a new market.
Internationalization can be useful on its own, even if you don’t localize later. But combining the two ensures content that both resonates and scales across multiple regions. It is nowadays seen as a necessary step to take before going international. Locally successful concepts, products, and services often fail when they try to export without taking the local market into consideration.
Now, you might think that only small businesses that are lacking the necessary resources to undertake these steps would ever make the mistake of not paying attention to internationalization. Well, not entirely true. The most famous example of it is WalMart’s epic failure in Germany that cost the company over a billion dollars when this retailing giant forgot that ignoring cultural differences, customer habits, and local labour laws (!) while entering a new market, is nothing but fatal to your business.
What’s the difference between globalization and internationalization?
You have seen that even though globalization and internationalization are two terms that are often complementary (and sometimes used as synonyms) because of the increase in communication speed and the gradual development of the means of trade between countries, there are many differences between them and clarifying the definitions again won’t hurt anyone.
Globalization is the process of international integration arising from the interchange of world views, products, ideas, and other aspects of cultures.
Internationalization is the process of generalizing a product so that it can handle multiple languages and cultural traditions without the need to redesign. In other words, internationalization is the process of determining international markets and preparing your content and message in entering these markets.
If we look at these definitions and this example from a wider perspective; globalization sees the world as one huge country, in which cultures are homogeneously dispersed, whereas internationalization sees the world as a place where many countries are separated by borders and where exchanges between these countries are encouraged.
When we talk about Internationalization vs. Globalization, we should always think of these concepts as complementary. If going global, or globalization, is a must for any growing business anywhere in the world, it must be done properly to have chances of success in today’s extensively competitive international business environment. One of the steps to undertake in the globalization process of your business is internationalization. Preparing your product, your service, your website, your application for a new market, or many new markets. This can go from adapting the product itself to the local market to change the framework of your website so that it remains readable in the new language. Globalization and Internationalization both require know-how and planning and need to be done by experts. You either have them in the house or outsource the work to companies dealing daily with internationalizing products, services, websites,... The most important is that you do not skip the internationalization process during your globalization efforts.