Global B2B Companies to Localize Content by 2004

Just a few years ago, almost everything found on the Web was in the English language. But that's all changing, and according to a new Aberdeen Group report, most multi-national business-to-business (B2B) companies will localize their online content in an effort to entice a more global audience.

The report, called "Web Globalization: Write Once, Deploy Worldwide," profiles 18 Web globalization suppliers, and concludes that 80 percent of multi-national B2B firms will "globalize" their Web sites by 2004 in order to "enter or optimize business in global markets."

With the English language's "rapid decline as the dominant language on the Web," says the report, companies are leveraging technologies, professional services, and best practices to "efficiently deliver localized, customized, corporate messages and content to customers across the globe."

But will the great promise of the Internet - a new global market for small countries' economies - actually come to fruition?

Tom Dwyer, Aberdeen's Web globalization research director, said in a press release that the globalization trend will certainly level the playing field. "Web globalization will remove geography from the competitive equation," the statement reads. "It enables Web buyers to select products and services based on the relevance, appeal, and comfort level of a supplier's Web site, whether it's the local Wal-Mart or the Carrefour on another continent."

And as the rest of the world gets increased access to the Internet, purely English-speaking users will decline even further.

In the press release, Dwyer said, "New Web users in Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia/Pacific are putting U.S.-based, English-speaking Web users in the minority. U.S.-based businesses can capitalize on these new markets with Web globalization tools. Many European companies already have multilingual, multicultural Web sites. The challenge for them is to replace old, labor-intensive localization processes with efficient, automated ones."

The Aberdeen Group report says that, at the end of 2000, fewer than 35 percent of all Web users were U.S. citizens and only 48 percent of total users were English-speaking.

Such sentiments seem to be indirectly verified from a number of other sources. While another study released today puts the U.S. in first place in the global e-commerce stakes, it said that Australia, the U.K. and Canada were not far behind.

The report, from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and its Pyramid Research communications arm, showed Nordic countries in four of the next five spots, with sophisticated telecopy systems and technically savvy populations putting Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark in the top echelon.

While Singapore scored higher than much of Western Europe, the rankings apparently show that the world's best e-business players are not necessarily the largest or richest economies, according to the researchers.

And yet another report released in May says that, while online B2B trade has major potential in the years ahead, by 2005, the online market will account for about one-third of all B2B sales in Europe.

But the Forrester Research report, entitled "ROI Of Europe's eCommerce Sites," found that labor costs will consume more than 50 percent of online B2B companies' budgets. Another financial downside according to Forrester is that, for a typical Europe top 100 firm to tap into trade opportunities, they will have to invest more than 11 million euros ($9.72 million) to get the service rolling.

--Reported by, .

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