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tcworld 1/2008

Goals of the Localization Certification Program

The importance of localization education

Dr. Nitish Singh

Over 230 countries, 6,700 languages, 147 currencies, 24 time zones – the web allows companies to traverse these barriers and reach consumers worldwide. Today global online trade is driven by the spread of free markets, increasing literacy and computer access in developing countries, deregulation and liberalization of industries, and the continuing trend of globalization across the world.

The domination of the US in the online marketplace is eroding due to changing online demographics, diffusion of Internet technology, and growth and acceptance of the internet by consumers worldwide. As of 2006 almost 1.08 billion online users were accounted across the globe with the US share being only about 210 million (Internet World Stats).

According to Singh and Pereira, a firm must localize its website linguistically and culturally in order to sell successfully to online global consumers. Studies have shown that website localization and cultural customization can lead to better navigation, usage, attitude toward the site and even higher purchase intentions on the site. Research also confirms that online customers stay twice as long on websites that have been localized. Online business users are almost three times more likely to make purchases online when websites are localized.

During the past ten years the localization industry has grown up around helping companies design multilingual websites and software applications for different countries. This industry generated an estimated $8.8 billion in revenue in 2006 and is expected to reach $12 billion by 2010 (DePalma and Beninatto, 2006). However, the localization industry and multinational companies with global web presence are finding it increasingly difficult to find trained localization professionals who can help them localize websites and other software applications. This shortage of skills and trained human power can be attributed to the lack of academic offerings in localization, the knowledge gap and the limited executive business training for localization professionals.

1. Lack of academic offerings

Currently, few programs offer courses related to localization. In the US and Europe, a handful of programs offer some kind of localization training; for example, localization and international e-business (online and offline at California State University Chico), software-localization and programming (University of Limerick, Ireland), translation technology and business at the graduate level (Monterey Institute of International Business, and Kent State University, US), and online courses in localization (Austin Community College, US). With very few courses and integrated programs in localization, a limited number of trained professionals are being groomed to take up the role of implementing localization and web globalization strategy.

2. The knowledge gap

Both from the academic and the business point of view, there is a deficit in knowledge and course offerings teaching how to successfully design international websites, localize applications, and develop a website globalization strategy. A person competent to handle the web localization efforts of a company should be trained in international e-marketing strategy, international website design/localization and implementation, foreign language orientation and translation technology, working in cross-national teams, project management, and have intercultural communication skills. However, there is a lack of university programs providing such well-rounded training in this area.

3. The business education gap

Currently there is a lack of formalized management or executive training opportunities in international e-business/web globalization strategy/localization, through business schools. Thus, we are not providing high level business training, via business schools, specifically catered to localization professionals. Most of the limited training available is through private sector or non-profit associations like the Globalization and Localization Association, the Localization Institute, and the Localization Industry Standards Association. To provide well-rounded management training we need to bring the expertise of private companies, industry associations and business schools together.

Considering these three gaps, the program offered by California State University Chico-RCE comes closest to synergistically combining e-business, localization, and web globalization strategy together in its Localization Certification Program.

The goals of the Localization Certification Program are:

     

  • To provide quality and affordable education and training in localization and international e-business
  • To help create a well-trained work force that can take up several different roles in the translation and localization industry and related business fields
  • To help entrepreneurs learn a skill set to effectively conduct international e-business
  • To provide a well-recognized qualification offered by California State University Chico-RCE, GALA and The Localization Institute
  • To provide an opportunity for participants to get tested and certified 

The Certification in Localization has two components:

     

  • 45 hours of online instruction in the form of videos, PowerPoint presentations, lecture notes and interactive quizzes. This online module provides a broad understanding of all major localization concepts and concepts related to conducting international e-business and international site design.
  • 24 hours of face-to-face interaction and lab work during the three-day workshop

In 2008 the program will include two workshops: “The Localization Certification Workshop” and the “Localization Project Management Workshop.” These workshops will be hosted in 2008 at Euromed Ecole De Management, Marseille, France (March 31-April-4) and Boeing Institute of International Business, St. Louis University, St. Louis USA (June 16-20).

 

Dr. Nitish Singh heads the Localization Certification Program at CSU Chico-RCE and is also an Assistant Professor of International Business at the Boeing Institute of International Business at St Louis University. He teaches and consults in the area of global e-commerce and international business and has published or presented more than 70 studies in this area.

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