Archive for the 'Globalization' Category

Nov 29 2006

Global Naming “Gotchas” Trip Up Microsoft and General Motors

…Later this year PC users in Latvia can look forward to a chicken on every disk when Microsoft releases Vista, which in Latvian means “frumpy woman” or “chicken.”

Meanwhile, closer to home, Microsoft media users in Quebec raised their eyebrows last summer when the company announced its new Zune media player. It seems that “Zune” sounds like “zoune,” a dated, cutesy slang term for genitalia in la belle province. Microsoft dismissed the homophony as a nonissue and said that the association of the slang term with its music player was “quite a stretch.”

The bottom line: We assume that Microsoft decided that giving 1.3 million Latvians a good laugh or unduly offending a few million Québecois wasn’t worth sacrificing otherwise good product names.

Microsoft isn’t alone. Last year General Motors rolled out its Buick LaCrosse in Canada, causing sophomoric twitters among those same francophones in Quebec. It seems that “la crosse” is a slang term for self-gratification. Every guy wants his ride to make him feel like a stud, but this name went a bit too far for Buick, whose average buyer is 68 years old.

….Whenever one of our clients decides to take a product or a brand name beyond its home turf, I always recommend that they get help on linguistic, cultural, economic, and legal issues.

…don’t take the chance of being the subject of blog entries and sophomoric twitters for something so easily avoided.

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May 30 2006

SAP Opens New Global Service Center in Brazil

Published by under Globalization

SAP AG has recently announced the opening of a new SAP Global Service Center in São Leopoldo, state of Rio Grande do Sul, where SAP plans to add 80 new employees by the end of this year. The new facility is located on the “Unisinos” university campus and will focus on custom development and localization services for customers in Latin and North America.

The São Leopoldo Center will support the company’s long-term global growth plans and localization efforts. SAP Custom Development and Globalization Services team will gain from the IT and development professionals available in this region.

São Leopoldo was chosen as the site of the new center due to the city’s excellent infrastructure, cost competitiveness, proximity to higher educational institutions such as the facility host, University of Vale do Rio dos Sinos (Unisinos), and the strong support of the region through local government initiatives.

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May 30 2006

Maryland Lost in Translation

Ask people which states have a horrible language problem, and they are likely to name Florida, Texas and California. Maryland won’t be mentioned.

It should be.

In 2002, the Maryland General Assembly passed a law requiring all state agencies to offer oral interpretation and written translation “into any language spoken by any limited English proficient population that constitutes 3 percent of the overall state population within the geographic area served by a local office of a state program.”

Canada has two official languages. The United Nations has six. Because of the 2002 law, Maryland now has several official languages. The available evidence suggests that no one in Annapolis is quite certain as to exactly how many.

The Maryland State Board of Elections Web site offers translations into eight languages, two more than the United Nations attempts: Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean and Chinese.

By contrast, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Web site merely offers translation into French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish. The Maryland Department of Transportation’s Motor Vehicle Administration Web site is solely in English.

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May 29 2006

Found in Translation: King’s ‘Dream’ Plays in Beijing

For months now, Caitrin McKiernan has gone from place to place in this city to ask Chinese people an unlikely question: What does the life of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. mean to you?

The questions don’t end there, either. In most of these gatherings, she gets far more specific, burrowing into the history and tactics of the American civil rights movement.

“Who knows what the Birmingham bus boycott was?” she asked a group of university students in May. “What is a sit-in?” “What’s the meaning of separate but equal?” At the level of language, every one of those terms presents a formidable challenge, even to a woman who has spent years in this country and speaks fluent Chinese.

But language is not the half of it. How can one translate Dr. King’s actions into the realm of ideas for an audience in a city notably hostile to protests? How does one convey to Chinese people the meaning of the life of a man who died fighting for civil rights nearly 40 years ago?

The answers may have begun to emerge since the production at the National Theater on Sunday of the play “Passages of Martin Luther King Jr.” by the noted King scholar Clayborne Carson and based on the life and words of the American civil rights leader. Ms. McKiernan, who studied under Mr. Carson at Stanford and is the play’s producer, was prepared for any kind of audience response, from deeply moved to completely stumped and anything in between.

But the responses of Ms. McKiernan’s discussion groups and the reactions of her cast suggested that Dr. King’s message would hit home here, that Chinese viewers would see parallels to divisions in their own society. That prospect poses a thorny problem for the government, which, on one hand, has endorsed Dr. King’s work as a blow for the class struggle and against American imperialism, but on the other insists that racism and discrimination are purely problems of decadent Western societies.

During one recent discussion at a Beijing university, after viewing excerpts from the PBS documentary “Eyes on the Prize,” students explored their feelings on the discrimination they discern between migrant workers and more affluent residents of the country’s eastern cities. Others spoke about the inferior position of women in their society or of being treated badly during visits overseas or the predominance of American power in the world.

Ms. McKiernan has avoided lecturing her audiences, or even steering the discussions. “I don’t want this to be about what happened in the U.S. in some past year,” she said. “I want this to be about what discrimination is, and how it relates to your life.”

The talks have usually begun with an explanation of how Dr. King’s life came to mean so much to her, a Californian who first came to this city at 16 as an exchange student and had to struggle to overcome cultural differences with her host family. Then she studied Dr. King in college, and she has had him on her mind ever since.

“I realized that King was this great bridge between the United States and China,” Ms. McKiernan said. “China is an emerging superpower, and the U.S. is the superpower, and King is someone that both sides believe in, and can be the starting point for a dialogue about how we wish the world to be.”

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May 29 2006

Worry Over English Erosion Hardly New

The way we English-speaking Americans see ourselves at home and in the world is necessarily changing. No matter how often we hear that we live in a big, diverse, multicultural country and a global economy, it still surprises us to see English as just one of our languages, not the exclusive one.

That’s because many of us didn’t grow up with language pluralism. The multilingual packaging that frustrated the Sunday shopper is the result of the demands of a global marketplace that blossomed in the 1990s.

The North American Free Trade Agreement, signed in 1992 by the first President Bush, requires multilingual packaging. Companies want to sell to Mexico and Canada as well as the United States without changing their packages. North America is one big store, and customers are a picky lot.

Mexican law requires that if you want to sell your widgets retail in Mexico, the label information in Spanish must be equally displayed with the English. To put it more plainly: The English can’t be bigger or more prominent on the packaging than the Spanish.

To make Canadian customers happy, a manufacturer will want not only to be sure the commercial information is in French but that the French is idiomatic, as spoken in Quebec, not in Paris.

Americans have been worrying about the erosion of English for decades. It may be some consolation to know that our neighbors in Quebec complain that, despite their best efforts to foster French, English remains the dominant language in the world for business, science and commerce.

That doesn’t mean English will be our sole language. The 2000 Census also found that 47 million people — almost one in five — speak a language other than English at home. The vast majority said they also speak English well. Only about 8 percent of people said they spoke English less than very well.

The reality is that votes in the Senate declaring English the “national language” and the “common and unifying language” were purely symbolic. The measures wouldn’t change a thing, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has said. In this country, federal law protects the rights of those who speak other languages.

A brochure, “Federal Protections Against National Origin Discrimination” by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, explains that federal laws prohibit discrimination based on a person’s national origin, ancestry, culture or language.

“This means,” the brochure says, “people cannot be denied equal opportunity because they or their family are from another country, because they have a name or accent associated with a national origin group, because they participate in certain customs associated with a national origin group, or because they are married to or associate with people of a certain national origin.”

The brochure is available in 17 languages, including English.

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May 29 2006

Fed Playbook Not Outdated by Globalization — Yellen

Published by under Globalization

Cheap imports from China and the new global workforce shouldn’t cause the Federal Reserve to rip up its monetary policy playbook, Janet Yellen, the president of the San Francisco Fed said on Saturday

“My main conclusion is that globalization has no impact on the Fed’s ability to control inflation in the long run,” Yellen said in a speech at the University of California Santa Cruz. But Yellen said she had an open mind on the topic and wanted to see more academic research on the issue

“We still have a lot to learn about the mechanisms through which globalization is impacting the U.S. economy,” Yellen said

Yellen’s view on globalization is important because they are known to carry weight with other Fed officials

But Yellen said she was not saying that globalization did not matter for Fed policy

“Shocks and persistent economic trends associated with America’s involvement in the global economy must be factored into the design of an appropriate monetary policy,” she said

Yellen said globalization could either cause headwinds, holding back economic growth, if commodity prices trended upward. On the other hand, global forces could act as a tailwind, from falling import prices, allowing the economy to grow at a sustained pace with low inflation

These forces may require monetary policy to be “recalibrated” on occasion, she said

But the Fed knows how to keep inflation contained in this environment, she said

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May 29 2006

UNICEF Chief’s Theme for Middlebury Grads is Globalization

Published by under Globalization

“Globalization is not a prediction, it’s a reality,” Veneman began.

She cited the view of Thomas Friedman (“The World is Flat”) that international competition began with nations in the era of Columbus and other explorers, became competition between companies around the year 1800 when Middlebury College was founded, and now was between individuals.

To take part in the global economy, “all it takes is a computer and a connection to the outside world,” she said.

Reflecting on the way messages travel across the Atlantic Ocean 282 times faster than in 1492, she said that if the world physically shrank by it would be “just slightly larger than a golf ball.”

But also, Veneman said, if you can’t see the link with a starving child in Africa, “you simply are not looking hard enough.”

It matters to us, or should, that a billion people live on less than a dollar a day, she said.

You don’t have to look in the face of a dying mother or child to care, she said, “but if you do, I promise you it will alter how you look at humanity.”

Veneman spoke of the 12-year-old girl she met from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where rape had been a weapon of warfare. That girl, asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, said, “I want to be a nun.”

“One person who works to save a child is worth a thousand of those who are on the sidelines complaining about the state of the world,” Veneman said. “One person can help change the world.”

“I see in your generation tremendous compassion and integrity,” Veneman said, “a generation that is growing up in the belief that financial status does not determine its true worth. A generation to whom hard work, honesty and strong personal values are as important as ever.”

“Seek to continuously improve and learn,” she counseled, and “give something of yourself and help your fellow human beings.”

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May 29 2006

Accessible Globalization

Published by under Globalization

Why do firms continue to evaluate outsourcing and globalization? A 2005 study performed by IBM’s T.J. Watson Research Center investigated the long-term effects of mature outsourcing organizations — ones that had outsourced a major portion of their IT infrastructure between 1998–2002 — and found that these companies continued to outperform their peers in Sales, General and Administrative (SG&A) efficiency.

Others can reap similar benefits without outsourcing significant portions of their organization, and this article analyzes accessible globalization — the trend to focus on the smaller, non-enterprise (anti-megadeals), and how companies utilize and benefit from outsourcing on a lesser scale. Let’s look at specific examples of lessons learned and provider capabilities in areas such as Application Outsourcing (AO), Research and Development (R&D), market research, office applications and analytics and accounting. Interestingly, it is not only labor arbitrage that is fueling this growth, though it does remain a critical factor.

Several research firms, including Gartner and Forrester, report that megadeals are shrinking in IT and business process outsourcing, yet Gartner predicts that the market will grow 7.3% from 2004–2009. This data indicates that the market is active, but full of smaller deals — many that never hit the public radar screen. Specific trends supporting this projection include that IT is breaking up into best-of-breed solutions, and there is an active market for smaller back-office and administrative processes such as Human Resources (HR) and accounting.

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May 29 2006

Help is a Call Away, Ctizens Taught

Newcomers to Canada don’t always know how to reach emergency services or what to expect when police, fire or ambulance personnel show up at their door.

Some come from countries where the police are perceived as corrupt or oppressive.

That’s why Halton police have initiated a unique diversity program called Emergency Services Information to New Canadians (ESINC). The goals include building positive relations and increasing trust of all emergency services.

Police officers, firefighters and paramedics go to English-as-a-second-language (ESL) classes and give presentations about who they are, how they operate, how to use the 911 service, and what to expect. They also distribute a package of material on crime, fire and accident prevention.

The program involves a partnership with Halton Emergency Medical Services (EMS), the fire departments of all four municipalities in the region, the Halton Multicultural Council, and the federally-funded Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program.

ESINC will be officially announced tomorrow but has been operating since the beginning of the year.

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May 29 2006

Financial Services Heads in Denial Over Impact of Globalization

Published by under Globalization

Financial services sector leaders are failing to acknowledge the challenge that globalization will pose in the next few years, accounting firm Deloitte & Touche LLP said in a survey.

Of 175 chief executive officers of financial services providers interviewed, 21 percent thought their companies would gain over 50 percent of profit outside of their home markets by 2010.

Globalization will probably have the largest impact on profits in the industry over the next three years, with 65 percent of respondents agreeing it was the biggest challenge facing their company.

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Feb 22 2006

Half White-collars Keep Blogs, Privacy Top Theme

Blogging has increasingly become more popular in China, with 52% of white-collar workers now keeping weblogs (blogs) according to CBP Career Consultants Co., Ltd., a leading career consulting firm in China.

Pictures from the Web log of a woman from Shanghai who goes by the pseudonym Mu Mu.
Unlike western bloggers who often focus on news and politics, the Chinese white collar bloggers see complaining alongside office and personal gossip as their priorities, according to the survey.

According to the findings of a blogging survey conducted by CBP among white-collar workers in China’s four largest cities – Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen – 52% responded they already had a blog, while another 28% said they plan to begin a blog in the near future.

“Weblogs have become the fourth online channel for Chinese people to communicate with each other, following email, bulletin board systems (BBS) and instant messaging tools such as QQ and MSN Messenger,” Bian Bingbin, President and Chief Career Consultant with CBP Career Consultants, told Interfax Monday. “Blogging is now a lifestyle habit for more and more Chinese white-collar workers, with a majority updating their blogs once every three days on average,” he said.

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Feb 17 2006

Int’l Day of Mother Languages to debut in China

An International Day for the Celebration of Mother Languages, which falls on Feb. 21 every year, will make its debut in China.

The United Nations Education, Science and Culture Organization (UNESCO)introduced the day in 1999, aiming to promote people’s awareness of their mother tongue, which, as an communication tool, represents a specific nationality or ethnic group and embodies a unique culture.

According to Sun Lei, a senior official with the Beiijng office of UNESCO, people all over the world are using 6,000 to 10,000 languages as their mother tongue. However, half of these languages are dying or in danger of decline, due to accelerating globalization.

“The international community now has the hard task of safeguarding these languages and maintaining the world’s cultural diversity, which is believed to help promote peace and stability,” Sun said at a press conference here on Friday.

Zong Gang, a senior official with the chief sponsor, the China Education Association for International Exchange (CEAIE), said that China, faced with challenges and opportunities brought about by globalization, has fully recognized the importance of maintaining cultural diversity for the world’s peace and development. To promote development of the nation’s diversified culture can help build up a harmonious Chinese society.

As a result, he said, the Chinese government responded immediately to the UNESCO’s proposals on the celebration of the International Day of Mother Languages.

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Feb 17 2006

R&D: Globalization & Flat World

In fifteen years of offshoring, India has been aggressively expanding its higher-value services (proof points exist in business application innovations, product development, and BPO) and has developed a stable of world-class IT services vendors that can save foreign companies the trouble of setting up their own offshore centers. A large supply of qualified talent exist in areas outside IT, such as R&D, finance and accounting, call centers, and back-office administration.

Across every industry spectrum, there is potential for knowledge work to relocate to India. In orchestrating global innovation, we saw that names like HTC, Flextronics, Cellon, Quanta Computer, Premier Imaging, Wipro Technologies, and Compal Electronics, are fast emerging as hidden powers of the technology industry. They are the vanguard of the next step in outsourcing – of innovation itself. When Western corporations began selling their factories and farming out manufacturing in the ’80s and ’90s to boost efficiency and focus their energies, most insisted all the important research and development would remain in-house. With initiatives like the Chinese racing to ride the biotech wave coupled with a very high determination in China to leapfrog into hi-tech industries and dominate the global market for knowledge products, this is likely to change.

Contrary to popular belief, it is intellectual capital and university collaboration, not just lower costs, that primarily attract companies to locate R&D activities in locations away from their home country, so says the new study sponsored by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The comprehensive study finds that emerging countries such as China and India will continue to be major beneficiaries of R&D expansion over the next three years as companies seek new market opportunities, access to top scientists and engineers, and collaborative research relationships with leading universities. Market growth potential, quality of R&D talent, collaboration with universities and IP protection are the key decision drivers. Surprisingly cost is never seen as a consideration in the decisions to locate these units.

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Feb 16 2006

Want to See if Your International Website Hits Its Mark?

Common Sense Advisory and the authors of “The Culturally Customized Web Site,” have teamed up to study trends and best practices in website globalization. Qualifying respondents will receive a free cultural diagnosis of one of their international websites in the form of “The Cultural Customization Scorecard.” In return the researchers request participation in a short survey.

What does the assessment cover? In short, respondents will get a review of one language or country site based on a theoretically-sound, empirically-validated framework built on five unique cultural values that account for similarities and differences across global cultures. For more information, see our description of the Cultural Scorecard.

We invite marketing executives and website owners to participate. We also encourage language service providers and software developers to ask their customers to participate and benchmark their work against a well-defined methodology. Click here to take survey or forward this link to someone you think might benefit from the cultural assessment.

Having Don and Renato and Nitish and Arun assess your website is a powerful one-two punch.

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Jun 28 2005

Bowne Sells Globalization Business to Lionbridge

Bowne & Co., Inc. (NYSE: BNE News) announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to sell Bowne Global Solutions to Lionbridge Technologies, Inc. (Nasdaq: LIOX News), a provider of globalization and testing services, for a total sale price with a value of at least $180 million.

Under the terms of the agreement, the consideration consists of at least $130 million in cash and 9.4 million shares of Lionbridge common stock. If the shares issued to Bowne do not have a value of $50 million at the time of closing, Lionbridge will issue a subordinated note to Bowne of up to $20 million to bring the value of the shares, together with the note, to $50 million. If the shares have a value greater than $68 million, the number of shares will be reduced so that the value is no greater than $68 million. Bowne will also receive one seat on the Lionbridge Board of Directors.

The Bowne Board of Directors is reviewing plans for the proceeds from the sale. Alternatives under review include further investment in the core businesses (including strategic acquisitions), debt retirement, share repurchases and/or cash dividends. Bowne currently has authorization for the buyback of up to $35 million of the company’s common stock.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions. Goldman, Sachs & Co. served as the financial advisor to Bowne.

The Company stated that its full-year guidance, regarding BGS’ revenue of $225 to $265 million and segment profit of $19 to $24 million, is unchanged from the outlook provided April 28, 2005.

Bowne has scheduled a conference call to discuss this transaction with investors on Tuesday, June 28 at 10:00 a.m. (Eastern Time). To join the webcast, log on to To access the call via telephone, please dial:

Domestic callers: (877) 502-9272

International callers: (913) 981-5581

A replay of the call will be available at from 1 p.m., June 28, through midnight, July 12, 2005. To access the rebroadcast via telephone, please dial: (888) 203-1112 (domestic) or (719) 457-0820 (international); use passcode 3605414.

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