Globalization and internationalization
Globalization vs internationalization

What is the Difference Between Globalization and Internationalization?

We hear these two words a lot: Globalization and Internationalization. So, what is the difference between globalization and internationalization? This article will skip the macroeconomic side of these terms and concentrate on what they mean for companies and how language plays an integral role in the globalization and internationalization processes.

While businesses go global - an obligation for growth in today’s heavily connected world - they have to undertake structured steps, define their strategies, and adapt their content to infiltrate foreign markets.

In this article, we will define Globalization and Internationalization from a language service provider perspective, and outline the importance of implementing an internationalization strategy for businesses with a globalization goal.

What is Globalization?

Globalization, also known as “g11n”, is the process of operating on a global scale. Globalization has expanded since the eighteenth century thanks to advancements in transportation, the internet, and communication technologies.

In the technology and data sector, globalization is defined as preparing products and services in a way that will resonate with a global audience. It is about creating a framework of expansion on which you can build and scale efficiently. For instance, if you want to break into the Arabic market, your content should be from right to left. Globalization is a broad goal that aims to adapt a product to a global audience. Everyone working on the product, including creators, designers, and developers, should be involved in this globalization process.

There are many benefits of globalization, but the greatest one is that an effective globalization strategy will help you break into new markets which will inevitably increase traffic and customers.

Let’s look at some globalization examples:

1) Amazon and eBay make it easy to buy products from individuals and businesses on the other side of the planet. Product description, categories, and reviews a localized to make consumers feel at home when navigating the sites.
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 country’s cuisine. 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 for each individual. The country trends are taken into account for sure.

What is Internationalization?

Internationalization is an early step in a company’s globalization mission and is the process of making product content adaptable so that it can be easily localized in multiple languages. A product that can resonate with foreign markets without the need for a total redesign is considered internationalized.
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 crucial to expanding to new markets. It also plays a significant role in the groundwork of a localization process. If you want to learn more about internationalization and localization, check our latest blog post, where we dig deeper into these two concepts.

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, internationalization is the act of preparing your concept, your product, your service, and tweaking every necessary item in your content to enter a new market. The more adaptable your content is, the better your chances are of success in a new market.

Internationalization can be helpful on its own, even if you don’t localize later. But, combining the two processes ensures content both resonates and scales in 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 considering the local market.

Now, you might think that only small businesses lacking the necessary resources to internationalize will forgo such an integral expansion step. Well, not entirely true. The most famous example 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 labor laws (!) while entering a new market, is nothing but fatal to your business.

What is the Difference Between Globalization and Internationalization?

Now that we have defined globalization and internationalization, you should already have some idea of the differences between the two terms. Globalization and Internationalization are often complementary (and sometimes used as synonyms). However, the easiest way to separate the terms is to think of internationalization as one of the first steps in the globalization process.

Internationalization is the process of generalizing a product so that it can be presented in multiple languages 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 from a broader perspective, globalization sees the world as one huge country where cultures and content are homogeneous in nature. Internationalization sees a world that contains many countries distinguished by borders and cultures where exchanges between these countries are encouraged and actively pursued.

Internationalization is a Step Towards Globalization

If a company is planning to go global, or globalize, it must implement a strategy if it is to have any chance of success in today’s extensively competitive international business environment. One of the first steps to undertake in the globalization process of your business is internationalization.

Businesses must prepare their products, services, website, and other relevant content to be received by a new market. This can go from adapting the product itself to the local market to changing 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. They can be in-house or outsourced to companies dealing daily with internationalizing products, services, content, or websites. If you skip the internationalization step in your globalization process you will undermine all of your efforts.

Are you still not sure how to proceed? MotaWord’s team of experts consists of industry leaders who can help and guide you through the process. Send us a message and we’ll respond in minutes.

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