Take the 2019 Survey! The State of Continuous Internationalization & Localization

Today’s software is built using agile methodology, which is superior at getting new features out fast, in contrast with waterfall. Many in the industry have talked about making Internationalization (i18n) and Localization (L10n) continuous, automated and in step with agile.

Yet, in a Lingoport survey last year, it was obvious that the industry still has a long way to go. For example, merely 8% of respondents thought they did an excellent job at measuring and managing i18n requirements. One respondent summed up the reality of the situation: “We do agile development but waterfall localization.”

Following up from last year’s effort, we are conducting a new 2019 industry survey. To that end, we invite you to take the survey and let us know your company’s level of adoption of continuous i18n and L10n.

Take the 2019 Survey

powered by Typeform

The survey takes only 3 minutes. If you enter your email address, we’ll email you the results upon conclusion of the survey.

Plus, for each entry received we’ll donate US$2 to Translators Without Borders. So, please help us in accurately capturing the state of the industry while helping a good cause.

New Lingoport Suite Release: Continuous i18n & L10n

We are pleased to announce new releases of our products within the Lingoport Suite, including Globalyzer 6.2, Lingoport Resource Manager (LRM) 4.1 and Lingobot 2.2.

Lingoport Suite products work together to deliver continuous internationalization (i18n), localization (L10n) and Linguistic QA, eliminating iterative globalization fixes and making global releases efficient and timely.

Globalyzer 6.2 adds improved i18n issue detection and sharing, expanded Android support, and more project sharing for i18n analysis within developer IDEs.

LRM 4.1 adds more ways to deliver continuous L10n across multiple products and repositories. We’ve added a Text parser, supporting text files for translation, a YAML Parser, improved automated resource file locators (especially powerful for microservices), more pseudo-localization support expanding in-context testing, and more prep-kit control for launching localization.

Lingobot 2.2, Lingoport Suite’s Chatbot to assist collaboration and engaging i18n and L10n, adds MS Teams support, translation status for all locales, status for specific locales and a new cleanup command for when a branch doesn’t exist any more.

See the links below for release notes and more feature details:

Want to see Lingoport Suite in action?

View a dashboard for an open source project,  or contact us to set up a demo where we dive deeper into how Lingoport Suite impacts software i18n and L10n.

New Webinar: Concatenations, Bad File Formats and Other Gremlins

There are certain internationalization (i18n), localization (L10n), and quality assurance (QA) issues that commonly arise in software organizations. As an i18n solutions provider, we see these problems at many of our client organizations when they first come to us for assistance. These issues not only make for poor L10n results or worse, they can even break localized builds and ultimately hurt business performance.

The Most Common i18n Issues

In Lingoport’s webinar “Concatenations, Bad File Formats and Other Gremlins,” we demonstrate a few of the most common and problematic issues, with solutions for finding and fixing them at their source, rather than finding and fixing them later in testing…or worse, after release when it’s much more costly and time consuming. During the webinar, we look at:

  • Concatenations
  • Improper date formatting
  • Character set issues
  • Dealing with messy resource file formats
  • JSON and YAML issues
  • Continuous QA

View i18n Webinar Recording


Date: December 6, 2018
Time: 9am PT | 12pm ET | 18:00 CET
Duration: 45 minutes, plus audience Q&A

Agenda Highlights

  • Identifying common i18n, L10n, and QA issues during global software development
  • Methods for uncovering these issues at their source during development
  • Strategies for fixing issues efficiently, reliably, and in a scalable manner
  • The benefits of continuous QA
  • Audience Q&A

View i18n Webinar Recording


N7M Puzzle Challenge #2

The winner of last week’s N7M challenge is Ellen Bossert!  Congratulations Ellen.

The correct response was  “Lingoport challenges the localization community to the magnificent numeronym puzzle contest”

Here is a new one for this week

Lingoport e5d p11g in t1e #SDLConnect18 e3t l2t w2k in S3a C3a

How to Play

Welcome to the Lingoport numeronyms puzzle contest.  Numeronyms are spelled with letters and numbers.  For example, the numeronym for internationalization is i18n and localization is L10n.

Here is an example of how the puzzles work.  You will be given a phrase written in numeronyms and you will have to decipher it:

It is f1n to d6r a n7m

The solution is:    It is fun to decipher a numeronym

The first contest is below and the first person to correctly solve the puzzle will win a prize.  Simply email your solution to n7m@lingoport.com.

Note, if you win and don’t want your name to be published, please say so in your email.  In order to make the challenge fair, you may only enter 1 response per day.  If you enter more than one per day, only your first response will be counted.

Lingoport c8s t1e L10n c7y to t1e m9t n7m p4e c5t

Good luck !

The L7t N7M team

P.S.  If no one solves the puzzle we will provide hints every couple of days.

N7M Puzzle Challenge

Welcome to the Lingoport numeronyms puzzle challenge.  Numeronyms are spelled with letters and numbers.  For example, the numeronym for internationalization is i18n and localization is L10n.

Here is an example of how the puzzles work.  You will be given a phrase written in numeronyms and you will have to decipher it:

It is f1n to d6r a n7m

The first challenge is below and the first person to correctly solve the puzzle will win a prize.

Simply email your solution to: n7m@lingoport.com.

Note, if you win and don’t want your name to be published, please say so in your email.  In order to make the challenge fair, you may only enter 1 response per day.  If you enter more than one per day, only your first response will be counted.

Lingoport c8s t1e L10n c7y to t1e m9t n7m p4e c5t

Good luck!

The Lingoport N7M team

P.S.  If no one solves the puzzle we will provide hints every couple of days

Webinar Recording: Integrating i18n Expertise with Your Development Team

When working with outside internationalization experts to facilitate the global release of your software products, you’ll be faced with a key challenge: how to best collaborate in a way that drives efficient global releases, while also transferring knowledge to your internal development team.

In Lingoport’s webinar “Integrating i18n Expertise with Your Development Team,” we feature a case study of an i18n engagement with a leading medical and veterinary products and technology company involving Lingoport’s services to internationalize the client’s SaaS application.

Like many managers, our client wanted his team to be a part of the i18n effort, gaining i18n knowledge through the process. At the same time, he also needed to balance his resources with budget, availability, and other concurrent development efforts.

During the webinar, we discuss the initial challenges in finding the right balance, as well as lessons learned and successes achieved.

View i18n Webinar Recording

Agenda Highlights

  • Formulating a plan
  • Assigning work responsibilities
  • Cadence of meetings
  • Project risks
  • Gaining team buy-in
  • How the work gets done
  • Localization in parallel
  • Success stories


  • Date: October 30, 2018
  • Time: 9am PDT | 12pm EDT | 17:00 CET
  • Duration: 45 minutes (plus audience Q&A)

View i18n Webinar Recording


Does i18n Have an Optimal Sequence?

Suppose you begin the long and complex task of internationalizing your software, only to discover a fundamental flaw in your i18n framework. What if your language files aren’t compatible with the translation vendor? What if the chief architect has identified a key software component for replacement? What if your approach isn’t compatible with each of the locales you wish to target? Overlooking the optimal sequence of i18n, or missing critical components altogether, can lead to significant, and costly, mistakes.

I18n Communication, Planning and Architecture

Large companies with multiple development teams operate within a paradox. The development teams operate independently to ensure fast delivery of product enhancements, but that same independence often results in a lack of communication or big picture design of the system itself. The first step in any i18n project is to communicate with the teams and examine both the long and short terms plans of all aspects of the product.

It’s surprisingly common for long term architectural plans to be overlooked in the i18n process. For example, a company may have a solid framework using RequireJS, and the development team moves forward using the integrated RequireJS framework for i18n. But just a few years later, support for the RequireJS framework stagnates, and the architects find themselves in the unfortunate position of needing to upgrade not only their RequireJS component, but their entire i18n framework that uses it. Following the optimal sequence of i18n would have solved this problem.

Do you write documentation? Small, agile teams often do very little in this regard, preferring instead to focus on manageable enhancements that can easily be documented with a short paragraph. But i18n of a large software product is a different beast, and requires detailed planning and documentation. And with that documentation comes a listing of the components that need to be refactored, what changes are needed with each refactor, and the sequence of refactors needed to ensure a seamless implementation in that agile environment.

Looking beyond design, are there specific refactors in an i18n project that should happen before others? The short answer is yes. Once a proper design has been determined, it’s still critical that upgrading of certain components takes place before others. Failure to do so can lead to lost time as developers wait for dependent projects to complete, redundant passes through code as interfaces are upgraded haphazardly, and bugs in the app when code does not interface properly throughout the entire i18n process.

String Externalization and Concatenation

First, let’s talk strings. Supposed Jeff was given the task of externalizing the strings in the app. With the string externalization framework in place, this would simply be a matter of replacing each string with a call to the string framework. On the surface, the task seems pretty easy: if you see a string, externalize it! But Jeff and his superiors didn’t consider the optimal sequence of i18n, and they overlooked a critical prerequisite: concatenations. So, Jeff continued on his merry way, refactoring strings like this:

   var text = “The ” + fieldName + ” field is required.”;

   and turning them into this:

   key.the = “The “;

   key.fieldisrequired = ” field is required.”;

   var text = GetString(key.the) + fieldName + GetString(key.fieldisrequired);

It wasn’t until much later that they discovered sentence structure plays a key role in localization, and concatenations should therefore be refactored to use insertion points prior to the strings being externalized. Using Jeff’s incorrect refactor, the phrase

   “The Name field is required.”

   could not be properly translated into Spanish since the word “field” (campo in Spanish) switches to the left side of the inserted “Name” (Nombre in Spanish):

   “El campo Nombre es obligatorio.”

   Even further, translators have difficulty translating partial sentences. What does “The” refer to? Will it refer to a masculine or feminine noun? A more proper refactor would therefore have been:

   key.thefieldisrequired = “The {0} field is required.”;

   var text = String.Format(key.thefieldisrequired, fieldName);

By using the refactored concatenation, the Spanish translation can adjust for the revised sentence structure:

   key.thefieldisrequired = “El campo {0} es obligatorio.”;

   var text = String.Format(key.thefieldisrequired, fieldName);

I18n and the Database

Next, let’s talk database. Suppose Sally’s project was to refactor addresses in the app, allowing storage of additional address lines and adding a country. On the surface, the project seemed pretty easy. The db administrator had already added a Countries table for reference, plus added 2 additional address columns to the client database. Sally thought everything was good to go.

But after adding the new address fields and running a test, she discovered that Japanese characters weren’t being properly stored in the database. After a great deal of debugging, she discovered the address columns were VARCHAR and couldn’t store Unicode characters! She spent the next few hours putting in a request to the database admin to upgrade the address columns to NVARCHAR, and waited patiently for the database to be upgraded.

But Sally’s next problem quickly arose. The ZipCode column was only 10 characters long, and she realized that international Postal Codes could be significantly longer than that. So again, she put in a request for a database change, and again she waited patiently for the upgrade.

Sally’s problems, however, were not over. As she continued her i18n of addresses, she discovered that some countries have “States” and others have “Provinces”. The Countries table they’d originally created had no knowledge of this distinction, but clearly one needed to be made. So again, Sally put in a request to the db administrator to add a new column to the Countries table, and waited patiently for the upgrade.

One of the greatest inefficiencies in software development is improper planning. By ignoring the optimal sequence of i18n, Sally and the db administrator had to go back and forth multiple times, upgrading the database piecemeal and slowing the i18n process considerably. The proper sequence should have been: Complete Address Design > Complete Database Refactor > Complete Code Refactor.

Synchronizing i18n Processes

Finally, let’s talk synchronization. The I18n Team at Widgets R Us had a number of front-end and back-end modules that needed refactoring, and they began merging their front-end upgrades first. All seemed fine, until customers began reporting program exceptions in various areas throughout the app. A crisis was underway.

As it turned out, the I18n Team had refactored the dates sent to the server to be in ISO format (YYYY-MM-DD). And while they had tested many of the adjaxPostSync calls, there were still a number of untested interfaces where the server was expecting a localized MM/DD/YYYY format, and the app was crashing with the unexpected data.

Improper synchronization in the i18n process can lead to program errors, and unhappy customers. In the case of Widgets R Us, the server interfaces either should have been refactored first to allow the use of both ISO and localized dates, or the client and server modules should have been upgraded together.

Does i18n have an optimal sequence? Every app is unique in its requirements, but the answer is definitely “yes”. Communication amongst all development teams is paramount, extensive planning and design is critical, and the sequence of implementation is vital. Failing to follow the optimal sequence of i18n can lead to time consuming, and costly, mistakes. Don’t let it happen to you.

Localization Resource File Best Practices – White Paper

One important requirement to successfully delivering continuously internationalized and localized software is to consistently use standard formatting of resource files that will be translated. Though this seems a mundane detail, the minute you consider having a localization engineer clean up files for translation processing, you lose time and money, and you possibly cause errors that could break your localized versions.

There’s absolutely no benefit to doing it wrong, and everything to gain from doing it right. Yet, we see errors here, we think, from lack of understanding, or mistaken approaches. Lingoport Resource Manager (LRM) checks for and enumerates resource file integrity issues when files are created and passed through the system, whether to or from the translator/vendor.

This white paper describes the benefits and best practices for localization resource file creation and formatting. Whether you use our Lingoport Suite software or not, following best practices will help your teams leverage the benefits of locale frameworks and will help you work more seamlessly with localization providers.

You can download the Localization Resource File Best Practices white paper by filling out the form below, and a link will then be emailed to you.

Enter Your Information to Download the White Paper

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Interview with Agile Expert Rachel Weston Rowell

Markets outside a company’s home country often represent some of the greatest opportunities for growth. Interestingly, agile development, with its focus on targeted scope, just-in time delivery, and frequent product updates has a difference cadence than traditional L10n, QA, and i18n review, which could take weeks or months per release.

Interested in resolving this disconnect and applying agile principles to the software i18n and L10n process for more seamless global releases? Join Lingoport’s Adam Asnes with special guest, agile expert Rachel Weston Rowell of Weston Rowell Consulting, in our upcoming September 26th webinar, Creating a Happy Path for Agile Localization, to learn more!

In this webinar, you’ll not only uncover how to align practices across functional areas to maximize value delivery to your customers, but also key practices to transition into agile delivery practices, not to mention success patterns regarding i18n and L10n. Learn to address concerns of development and how to enable QA to support markets outside of the US, and so much more.

View i18n Webinar Recording

Eager for Rachel’s insights prior to the webinar? Say no more! Check out our insider interview with Rachel below, providing you with a sneak peek into the types of agile development insights you’ll uncover during the webinar.


Hi, Rachel, can you introduce yourself to our readers?

Rachel Rowell

Hi, I’m Rachel. I am an executive team coach. My background is in agile practice. So, about 11 years ago I joined a company called Rally Software, and I became an agile coach where I traveled around the country teaching people about agile practice.

After a few years of doing that, I moved into a role where I ran the professional services organization at Rally Software, and in that role I gained a lot of empathy for what it means to be an executive at a software company. From there, I moved into another role where I did a bunch of experimental work taking agile and lean concepts and figuring out how to move them up and out into the business.

So, if we took them from the space of R&D in IT world and sort of applied them to other parts of the business, or even to running a whole business, what would that mean? That’s really lead me to the work I do today, which is, as I said, coaching executive teams. I work primarily with post-startup companies, and help those organizations figure out how to add the right amount of discipline so that they can scale and grow up, and be successful, but hold onto the startup cultures that they love, and really become healthy companies…


Excellent… What would you say is the number one or the top few challenges that you consistently run into for the clients that you work with, helping them to transform into an agile organization?

Rachel Rowell

I’d say the number one problem that every company has is too much work in process, too much width.

It’s just a kind of ubiquitous problem that we start more work than we can finish, and it eventually floods the system, like cars on a freeway, and we end up with a parking lot where no work gets done unless we put a siren on it, and push it down the road, then that’s how work gets done. We make things an emergency, and that’s the only way to get them out of the system.

So, agile practices are designed to help create systems that limit work in process. They do it in different ways, depending on which agile practices you use, but they’re all designed to help with that problem.

I think that the number two problem that I run into, especially because I work with senior leadership teams, is that the balance between strategic work, which I would call working on the business – like how are we going to be a different business, how are we going to improve – and the time we spend working in the business, which is meeting existing commitments, it’s hard to balance that in an effective way without some very intentional approaches. So, that’s another big challenge I see for companies as they grow is, you know, “How do we make space to improve our business while at the same time doing all the work we need to do to stay in business?”

I think at more of a team level it’s just generalized teams, whether they’re executive teams or not, I think that one of the challenges I see is that it’s just in our nature, I think that without some sort of agreement about how we behave and some structures that support that, that we go off and kind of do our own thing, and we’re not naturally inclined to take information and learning and share it with others in a collaborative way. Not because we don’t want to, but just because it’s hard.

So, figuring out how to help people communicate more, be more transparent, be more collaborative is another big challenge I see.



How do you help organizations align practices across functional areas?

Rachel Rowell

I think there’s kind of two steps that businesses should take. The first [addresses] the part of the business that does strategy formulation, and so by that I mean actually having a regular cadence and taking time. Typically, executives are the leaders of this, and we sit down and say, “What is our strategy? What do we want to do? What is the focused way to achieve that?” Because, we can’t be everything to everybody, we can’t do everything.

I always tell people, “A healthy business has a supply and demand mismatch. Your customers will always want more from you than you have a capacity to deliver. That’s a good problem, because that means we have a healthy business. It means we have growth potential, but it’s a hard problem, because it means we can’t do everything.

So, when we design our strategies we’ve got to take this into account. We have to focus. We can only do so many things, and that’s also part of that managing whip, right? Managing work in process, that the leadership sets the tone. These are the two most important, or three most important things, and then the next step is that you then have to deploy it.

I think a lot of companies get stuck in this space where, the executives built a great strategy, but it gets stuck in the C-suite. Nobody else ever knows about it, and then they’re like, “Why isn’t this being executed?”

So, you have to have a really disciplined, well-defined, and continuous process of deploying that strategy and making sure their people understand what it is, and understand what their role is in delivering it, and understand how it’s going to be measured, and then continuously checking back in and saying, “How are we doing?”, “How are we progressing?”,  and “Are we getting the results we expected?”

I tell executives that they need to treat strategy like a hypothesis. They don’t know exactly what the right thing is to do for the business. If we knew, we wouldn’t call it a strategy; we would just do it, right? But, then we’re like, “We have a strategy, and it’s an idea,” and so then everything we do related to the strategy is an experiment, and we hope that we’re right. We’re smart. We think that we’re right, but we should expect that sometimes we’re wrong.

So, you’ve got to have a continuous activity of saying, “Well, we did this thing, what happened? What were the results?” Then, you have to adjust given those results, because it’s not always going to be what you thought it was, and I think a lot of times companies, they’re like, “Here’s the strategy,” and then they’re like, “Go,” and then a year later they’re like, “Wait, what happened? Why didn’t things turn out the way that we thought they would?”



Are there any recent examples that you can share of taking a company that had never done agile, had never implemented agile practices before, and seeing it through to fruition where it was very successful?

Rachel Rowell

So, from just a very high, you know 50,000 foot view, the way I approach transformation is that first you want to sort of assess where you are today, and so in your example, the assessment is, “We don’t use agile practice. We either were using a more traditional approach like waterfall, or more likely, if you’re a smaller company, you don’t have any process at all. You’re just in kind of chaos mode, and just working on whatever the loudest thing is at that time, and trying to get it done.

Then so, with agile practice, what I like to do is start with some education, because people have a lot of ideas about what agile is, or they’ve been in a company that they thought was doing agile before, you know? So, there’s inconsistent language, and inconsistent understanding, and so I like to baseline that, and kind of get everybody on the same page. Like, when we say this, this is what we mean, and when we say this, this is what we mean.

We run some education, and that includes leadership. Leadership has to know the same stuff, because agile isn’t just about IT or about engineering, although I think a lot of people start with that assumption. It’s a whole business change, and so the executive team needs to understand it and understand what their role is in that.

So, educating people and getting them some baseline understanding, and then it’s immediately, as soon as possible, turning that education into practice, right? And, getting them going, getting them using the ideas, because it’s only when we start using them that we have the really good questions, right? Like, oh, you taught me this, and now I tried it, and here’s what’s hard, and so how do I do it?

…I think, the nice thing about agile practice is that it’s cyclical, right? You just, you run, whether you’re running sprints, or iterations, or whatever you want to call them, you’re running these cycles of about two weeks, and it gives you this really fast learning environment, where you’re like, “Try it for two weeks,” and I was like, “What happened? Oh my gosh, this worked, that didn’t work,” and then you get to tune the system with really high frequency, and I think that makes the system work faster.

My approach is get them going, get them practicing it, and then to answer the questions, and help them tune, and continue to guide them along their path. Then, I think along the way, you start to see where are the areas of greatest friction. As a coach, that’s my number one thing I’m always looking for is friction. I’m like, “Where are we rubbing against each other in the business, or where are we stuck in the business, and what do we need to do to smooth that out so that the work can flow again?

…Each business is a little different, but there’re pretty common patterns like, “We don’t have a product roadmap, so we’re having a hard time prioritizing the work, because we don’t know where we’re going in the long term,” or you know, “There’s not enough support for product owners, so they’re struggling to kind of get the information they need for the team,” or, “We don’t have a good definition of done, and so, we’re inconsistent about our technical standards, and that’s causing us to have problems at integration points.”

So, looking for those things and then bringing some practices to bear that help smooth that out, and then you just keep looking for the next thing. Then, my goal is to teach them how to identify the friction so that they can then start addressing it themselves, right?

Like, “Let me show you guys where I see this friction. Let me talk to you about what we might do about that. Now, next time, you tell me where the friction is, and what do you think you want to do about it?”

Because, that’s the way they get better, and from what it looks like from the outside is that you go from this kind of frozen system. What I always tell people is like, you can tell you have too much work in process, and that your system is full of friction when everybody’s working as hard as they can and nothing is getting done, right?

It’s not, “Nothing’s coming out of the system, and it’s not because we’re all just sitting around drinking lattes. We are working hard, and we are just frustrated in our inability to get to done,” and so what you start seeing is that the work starts to even out, and more, and more things are getting done, and so, you know, employee satisfaction increases, and customer satisfaction increases, and we just start to feel more successful, and we’re working the same. We’re not working harder, because I think we were already working hard, right?

So, we’re working the same amount, but we’re working so much smarter, and what we’re doing is adding so much more value, and so that just makes us more satisfied, because, as humans, we like to see our efforts go towards good results.

View i18n Webinar Recording

Fearlessly Leading Global Expansion [Webinar Transcription]

Today’s economy is increasingly borderless. Global transformation and expansion have become a key driver to company growth. Many industries, however, are not accounting for differences in business practices, culture, and language as they branch outward to different regions and countries.

With this background, check out Lingoport’s interview of Anna Schlegel, Head of Globalization at NetApp and Co-Founder and President of the Board of Women in Localization (4,000+ members), exploring smarter ways to go global and enable your brand to connect more deeply with local users. 

In this webinar recording, you’ll not only uncover what you need for a successful software globalization effort, but also key strategies for effective communication involving global teams, including everyone from executive management to remote team members around the world. Learn to avoid common mistakes and pitfalls that besiege many companies, and so much more. 

View i18n Webinar Recording

Interested in reading the transcription instead of watching the webinar? Say no more! Check out excerpts from the webinar below.

Excerpt 1: “A True Veteran of Internationalization Localization” [00:00:00-00:10:24]

Adam Asnes

We’re fearlessly leading global expansion, a behind-the-scenes discussion with Anna Schlegel and her strategies for global transformation at NetApp. [We’re] very pleased to have Anna with us.

She does… just a fabulous job of escalating localization from a checkmark in many organizations, and a reactive activity, to a true strategy for moving forward, and changing the company’s global footprint.

So, a little bit about Anna. Anna, if you could just say hello, people will hear your voice.

Anna Schlegel

Hello everybody.

Adam Asnes

All right, good, good. Anna’s a true veteran of internationalization and localization. She has 20 years of experience in the industry in many different roles, at a lot of big companies you’ve heard of. She also authored the book, Truly Global: The Theory and Practice of Bringing Your Company to International Markets, and cofounded the 4,000 plus member association, Women in Localization.

A little bit about both: Anna’s book is short and to the point…it’s like a mini cheat sheet of everything she’s learned and concisely put together. So, I do invite you to go and get the book afterward.

Right, let’s get to the questions. The format of this webinar is I’m gonna ask a question, Anna’s gonna answer it and we’ll proceed. Each one of my slides has one to three questions. We’ll probably move ahead regularly, and then at the end, if you could submit your questions or even submit your questions during the webinar, I will take those questions at the end… we’re targeting to finish around half to the hour, whatever your timezone is, and then go into our Q&A period, which usually lasts about 10-15 minutes depending on how active.

So, we’re depending upon you to participate in that last section.

Right, Anna, let’s look at a now and then, kind of like a before and after. Can you describe for us the globalization perspective you see currently at NetApp compared to years ago?

Anna Schlegel

The globalization perspective of years ago… it’s night and day. The reason why I took the job is because I was the head of globalization at VMware at that time, and somebody…[asked] me, “You know what NetApp is?” I’m quite familiar with it, and I looked at the website… they wanted a French website, and I saw some Spanish on the French website…

[So I said,] “I’m taking the job.”

…[back then] there was very little thought on how NetApp was presenting itself or positioning itself globally. And today, it’s a sophisticated machine – one of the best teams in the world… it’s the dream, but it’s taken a long, long, long, long time. It’s night and day [from when I started there].

Adam Asnes

Anyway…so one of my favorite terms you have in your book is “Geo Alignment.” What do you mean by Geo Alignment?

Anna Schlegel

Geo Alignment is a term that we created in my team very quickly… 10 years ago.

So one of the first things that I noticed was… the headquarters. NetApp is a US company, thousands of employees… [I asked] “where are these thousands of employees? Who is driving the agenda here?” And I saw that most of the employees were in the United States, most of the employees driving the larger goals for the company were based in Sunnyvale at headquarters.

I did a mapping of…those goals that are coming about…themes or brand or marketing or product, [and asked] “How do they make it to the offices in Israel? Or the offices in Russia? Or the offices in Korea? How is that connection made?”

And I saw that it was broken at many stages.

And so we’re like, well, we have a Geo Alignment problem. We have a headquarter-to-country problem. And we started mapping how much information can you offer from an enterprise to the actual doers in the country offices, and we created a program we call Geo Alignment… we hired Geo Aligners. And so that right there made the localization team a globalization strategy team.

We opened so much business, we removed so many barriers, and then we tailored the amount of information that somebody at a small office would get, at a medium-sized office would get, or a large office would get.

You can’t treat every country the same; you have to treat them differently. There’s different team sizes; there’s different goals; some products do not resonate in a particular market; some products are encrypted; some products are not allowed; some products haven’t taken off.

When you map all of this, you run business really fast… you stop wasting your time in explaining things that do not resonate or are not relevant in the field. This is the concept of Geo Alignment.

Excerpt 2: “We hear everything. Everything.” [00:10:24-00:24:13]

Adam Asnes

Alright, very good. Moving ahead, what are the roles of key personnel on your team?

Anna Schlegel

We started with being a localization team, we moved to being a globalization team, and then we moved to being the global strategy for NetApp.

And so when you think about that, when you say, “I’m gonna form the global strategy for the company,” you don’t need project managers; you need strategies… and you need metrics people, and you need to dip into trends and analyses, and market trends, and country plans, and country managers…

And we don’t forget the fact that we are the translators, and we are the reviewers, and we are the internationalization engineers, and we are the machine translation experts. So, we have all those roles.

We have a small team of strategists. They’re the ones that look at the country plans for the country that we care about the most… they open up those country plans and they look at what are the products that these country managers want to sell, and that’s what we go and work on.

We have all the typical, traditional roles, from a product lead that does all the product globalization, where we do the internationalization of the product; the localization of the product; the technical publication… that’s one team. We do have a head of localization that: she manages the localization operation… [and] the large millions of volume that we pass as well.

We do have content strategists, because we are very concerned and very passionate about the health of content. [They ask,] “How was it authored? Are the taxonomies proper? “Is the search engine grabbing the right key words?”

So we participate a lot in content strategies. We… [also] have an operations team: we have a chief of staff that has a small team that does communications, that does all the invoicing, all the vendor relationship, all the QVR’s; and then we have a futurist… a globalization architect that roams around the country looking at…the data cloud services, data services bit. [This team asks,] “How are we going to be delivering our product: via the cloud, or more of the traditional storage security systems there?”

So those are some of the main leads. The other thing that we do that has been the best thing we’ve done in a long time is we united the globalization team with the content strategy team for the company – so now I’m very lucky to run globalization and content strategy. And once you have content strategy, you can influence… [the] content that we write…[the] types of content that we write…we influence that.

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Adam Asnes

Very good. So you’re proactive, not just reactively translating. Alright, very good. I’m gonna keep moving along: we could stay on this subject a long time.

How do you garner market information?

Anna Schlegel

We do a few things. So we read… papers, we open country plans, and we run anything that the company does to stay close to their customer…we’re there.

So if [for example] there’s a major… customer conference,… we have a booth there; we talk; we do surveys; we get a lot of responses through that process… [whether] online or in person, we are always there.

We’re constantly grabbing what the market needs, what the customer needs, and we rely a lot on the country managers. It’s that Geo Alignment…

Adam Asnes

That’s no shortage of work, to get worldwide opinion flowing towards you. That’s pretty cool.

Anna Schlegel

Yeah, it is very well organized, so there’s a process for that. It’s not that I pick up the phone whenever I feel like it, [like] “Hey, how’s it going in France?” No, we have the right team… we create small tiger teams that we call Champion teams that gather market information for every single department that we support.

Adam Asnes

Alright, very good. I’m gonna move on to the next slide which is a pretty loaded single question, right?

Let’s talk about the stakeholders at NetApp, and the objections you hear, and how you work with then.

Anna Schlegel

The objections I hear come from…up and down the chain, so it comes from the highest executives to individual contributors that are working at a project level. And the list is very long: there is no money; there is no mandate; how do you know; who are you; what’s your title; how long have you been at NetApp; people understand English in Japan; I don’t have money; my boss has never said anything about this; what is internationalization; or we are in other countries?

We hear everything. Everything.

So the way to confront these objections is: we are so well prepared. We’re so well prepared with the analysis and the data, and I don’t let just anybody represent the team. I mean we have very specific people in my team that go and fight those battles, and we preload and we train and we prepare…

Adam Asnes

Right. Well, I do wanna emphasize that in our position, we have seen that it’s one thing when a company has a commercial product… it’s sometimes a little easier to get a localization program in place. But when a product is technical, like NetApp products are, one of the pushbacks that we see in a lot of customers is, “We don’t have to translate because all of our customers speak English because they have to.” What would you say to that as a sample objection?

Anna Schlegel

Sure. So we have the data on English tolerance for our product type. We have a lot of competitive analysis also, so we know what are the equivalent products to ours. And we know if they’ve been globalized or not. We talk a lot with the channel also, so channel partners in Japan, China. We are a vendor. We are a vendor to major organizations like the Chinese government…

…So, we know the English tolerance, we know in what situations that’s true and what situations it’s not true, so we’re very careful… We study what products we need to globalize and what products we don’t need to globalize.

Again, we are in the data storage business… we need to be very careful with language tolerance. We are dealing with highly trained engineers around the world. But it’s very different if you’re dealing with a business in Beijing than if you’re trying to sell something into a remote province of a third tier, fourth tier city, you do need to be localized.

And to that point, we just globalize the product, period. Because it’s just gonna reach a much larger pool of people…

Adam Asnes

Okay. So make sure the product is internationalized and you’re ready and, go ahead.

Anna Schlegel

Yeah, I mean product internationalization is just the most basic thing you have to do, so that’s number one. And then you do a study of language tolerance for your product, and then you pick your countries. And it’s very different, you need to have a language map for all these departments you’re supporting. It’s not the same language; it doesn’t have to be the same language.

Excerpt 3: “Luck Meets the Well Prepared”- [00:24:57-00:34:25]

Anna Schlegel

How do we target countries? So, we target countries by understanding their companies, so we are very well aligned with the general managers for APAC, for EMEA, for the Americas. And then we all have specific budgets, so you put your eggs in several areas and not in other places, right? So again, we target the country differently, we target the countries through a reciprocal process of annual grading plan, where we know exactly what are the countries where we’re gonna globalize for what languages.

The second question, “what local data do you measure for executive and stakeholder review” – so we have this mapping because we serve 14 departments and each department tackles different languages…we line up to 14 executives, and so we’re constantly presenting this to the 14 groups through these little champion teams or tiger teams that I was explaining before.

And so we talk about the good, the bad, the average, the opportunity, and that’s how we keep tracks with the executives.

Adam Asnes

Very good… now we get into helping people: the general attributes. What are some of the key personnel attributes you look for on your globalization team?

Anna Schlegel

Do you know the word “Grit”? Grit, G-R-I-T? That’s what we’re looking for. So it, it’s tough, right? I mean, we are in the Silicon Valley where many, many companies are offshoring, outsourcing, looking for lower cost solutions. And we, I think the globalization team were in 20 or 22 different countries. So the key attribute is patience, is continuous learning, is shake it out, don’t be afraid, you know, step up, lead.

We make everybody lead a major program or project, so we spend a lot of time training on how to lead something that they have in their head that will go to our mission. So trainable. I’m very passionate and very on top of some specific things, so people that don’t shy away from very open conversation; we do a lot of candor, we do a lot of, how are we gonna talk to each other, so we do a lot of values training also.

Teamwork. People that can work really well in a team, is very important-

Adam Asnes

Good. This is really great. I wrote down patience, continuous learning, shake it up, trainable, passionate, open conversations, values teamwork. Very good.

So looking back on your career, what might you have done a little differently knowing what you know now?

Anna Schlegel

I remember when I started, I was always the pain in the butt in the meetings, saying, well, “You haven’t thought about localization.” And I know that I used to be the pain in the room, like, “Well this doesn’t look like this is globalized or internationalized, or why haven’t you done this, or you don’t know better,” I used to be a bit of a smartass person years ago, and I don’t think that helped me.

What I learned was it was much better to listen and then go and ask after the meeting, or tackle this very difficult conversation, ’cause they’re usually about somebody wasn’t thinking in the proper, or somebody doesn’t know what they don’t know. So going after the meeting, maybe, to ask about globalization plans and sitting one-on-one, rather than putting people and evidence in big large rooms, because I think I made a lot of people feel very uncomfortable.

But that’s something I learned, and then, so having these more strategic conversations outside of the major forums is better, is much better. That way you create the relationship with the person to say, “Hey, you know, do you understand what localization is, what we do? Have you ever thought about how this will resonate in Korea?” You know, that.

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Adam Asnes

Okay, very good. And any particular advice? I mean you’ve got this incredible machine going, but there’s people on this call that don’t, necessarily, and are just getting started. What advice might you give to people starting out in globalization leadership?

Anna Schlegel

So number one, be very patient. When I started at NetApp, I was one person. You need to be very patient, you need to be very brave; very brave. The way I went from one person to many is I decided to come up with the 12th session task force, I called it a task force, and I went to grab different people from different teams, I’m like, would you help me figure this globalization thing out?

…I would say ask your vendors for help, to strategize. You can have your vendors if you’re on your own or it’s a very small team, you can put a vendor day, you can put a globalization day, your vendors will help you. Even if you’re on your own.

There are people out there who can help you look bigger or amplify what you want to do. The other thing I would say: Join forums… If you don’t belong to a forum, you should join one, because you’re gonna find the people like the way I found Adam, right?

And so you start creating these networks, and Adam is who taught me about internationalization, so you need to network. Networking would be something very important.

And the other thing I would say if you’re a localization manager just with a band of one or two or three is to start creating some sort of awareness, so maybe you create a monthly newsletter or a quarterly newsletter. There’s so much information out there, that you can start parsing that out or mailing that out through the company as a subscription model and see who would be interested.

So thinking, what are the things that you can do, when you start moving those engines, things start to happen. Luck meets the well prepared, so sitting alone and just sending products to the localization vendor is not healthy if you wanna move from localization to globalization.

Adam Asnes

“Luck meets the well prepared”- very good.

Excerpt 4: Q/A Session [00:34:29-00:44:28]

Adam Asnes

Alright, so we’re into the QA part of our presentation. We have a couple of questions already, which is great, which I’ll read off, and we’ll continue on…

Our first question here is from Gary: what are the top three questions you ask a new product team or business unit?

Anna Schlegel

A new product team, I ask who’s the development manager, who’s the release manager, and who’s the executive.

And then you have a conversation with them, and some of the first questions can be, “Have you ever thought of going global?” Many, many times, the product teams are formed by excellent developers or QA leads that have done this in other companies, maybe they’re not doing this in your company, so one of the questions would be, “Did you do this at IBM? Did you do this at VMware?” One of the questions I ask is “Where did you work before?”

But you want to find the right people, and you want to start having the conversation. Some other way of looking at this is, can I look at the business requirements? Because many, many times, the product managers are working through business requirements, and so you need- it’s almost like pulling a thread of like, who didn’t put the right business requirement for the product to go global? Maybe it was product marketing, or there’s so many disconnects, again, that Geo Alignment of doing the detective work of who didn’t put the right requirements, why did they think that placing this product in Japan is not a good idea?

It might be because it is not a good idea, but you need to find out if the product is in the country manager’s plan.

And so that’s why you wanna prepare before you go to these product teams, just say like, “Hey, have you realized that there is a lot of action around this particular product in China, or in Japan, or in Italy, wherever.”

Adam Asnes

Really good. Alright, I should move us on to the next question, we have quite a few here: Jack…said globalization is going through growing pains…What is your take on this?

Anna Schlegel

It’s very true! So for example, Jack, I travel a lot to China, so many, many Chinese companies are trying to [go] global and they don’t know how to, so that would be one thing. The other thing that I would say is many are looking for US companies to help them with joint ventures or EM partnerships to get in to a particular country like the states. You have a lot of nationalistic spirit popping through, a lot of countries tightening borders, and so that’s part of what he’s talking about: entering countries is very complicated. You have the government in between, they might wanna tax you higher, they might wanna put impediments into the global trade compliance; I mean, there’s so many issues around global trade compliance, and you constantly need to be looking at new tax laws. Is it worth it to put a product in a country that’s gonna give you low revenue?

So that’s why you need to be very, very careful into where you’re putting your product. What are the countries, and you need your legal teams, and you need your global trade compliance teams lined up. Just localizing to localize is not a good strategy any more.

Adam Asnes

Right. Gotcha.

What do you say are your current biggest challenges when it comes to the way forward with globalization in the near future?

Anna Schlegel

The rapid growth of data, the way that artificial intelligence is offering very quick response back into vertical access. So how are we gonna be able to keep up with the decision making process of, data’s coming in very quickly through artificial intelligence where you used to have dozens of analysts trying to figure a particular problem, you can figure it out in seconds with something like IBM Watson.

So how are you able to react to that is gonna be the advantage of any company. And so how fast you can globalize that, how fast can you put it on digital, you know the digital transformation, the access to data and information, that is, I think, the next frontier here.

Adam Asnes

Alright, so I’m gonna call it good here; we’re at the end of our time. Thank you very much, Anna, this was really a special webinar for me to hear this strategic view. I think this is really a beautiful thing, because we work with a lot of companies around the world, and they are really struggling to get where you are now.

So clearly you’ve had a vision for this that you’ve realized, but there’s as you’ve said, luck meets the well prepared, you’ve really done your work over the years. It hasn’t been instant. And I think that comes through. Again, everybody, if you don’t have it, go and buy a copy of Truly Global; it’s well worth the read, and find some people to network with and mentor and help you, whether you’re on top of the world or just getting into it, there’s always a place for that…

Again, thank you Anna, and to everyone who joined us, thank you for joining us; the recording will be available shortly, it usually just takes us a few days, and you’ll get a notice about it.

Take care everyone!

Anna Schlegel

And thank you, Adam! Thank you.

Adam Asnes

Alright, bye bye!

Anna Schlegel

Bye bye everybody.

Technology for Better Global Collaboration