Original Article published by Forbes.
More than 41 million American jobs depend on international trade. Although it’s quickly becoming a norm, entering a foreign market can have you feeling lost at sea. Different industries will face different challenges, but nearly every industry can expect a language barrier. In preparation for your company’s journey, let’s look at how a language translation device can help.
Accessible Cultural Understanding
A domestic market is familiar and safe, like a lake near the home where you grew up. You know all of the good fishing spots and when they’re biting. A foreign market is an ocean: There are different fish, bait you’ve never heard of and different seasons. You’re used to a domestic consumer group, but that marketing strategy simply won’t work if you’re trying to enter the Japanese market, for instance.
Cultural understanding required for an effective campaign takes time, research and consultation. But instant language translation devices can very quickly get you one step closer to understanding the culture in a foreign market.
Trying to learn an entire language in a short amount isn’t expected (nor reasonable), which is why companies like Amazon, Google and Samsung have already delved into the instant language translation arena. The goal is simple: a complete, two-way conversation between persons who do not speak the same language. With an instant language translation device, a person with little to no knowledge of the local language has the ability to travel to another country with confidence.
Through an app on a phone or with a portable device, the person would be able to say a sentence into a microphone and have the device instantly translate and transcribe the sentence in the selected language for the other participating party to listen and read. The business implications for your employees are endless: more efficient board meetings with foreign partners, better-equipped marketing teams and, most importantly, confident and prepared employees ready to tackle whatever challenge comes their way. And besides the aforementioned heavy hitters, other companies such as Logbar are helping make instant language translation more ubiquitous, and Sourcenext brought an instant translation device called Pocketalk to market in Japan.
Of course, not all languages can be easily translated. You can’t program human understanding, and you certainly can’t program success. What you can do, however, is practice face-to-face communication skills. A study by the Harvard Business School and the University of Chicago finds that hand-shaking and other social interactions in a business setting promote “cooperative strategies and influences negotiation outcomes.” The verbal and nonverbal communication that takes place during an in-person meeting is essential to the business relationship. Nothing would be possible without your employees: They are the core of your company and you rely on them to build partnerships and foster overall growth.
Introducing a product into a foreign market is not the right choice for every company, but almost everyone will find themselves in a situation, for business or for pleasure, where they feel a little lost not knowing the local language. Technology can help. In 2017, 78% of travelers said they actively seek opportunities to travel for work, which comes as no surprise, as we see more and more companies like Duolingo and TravelPerk build products tailored to making travel a smoother experience.
The next natural step in entering a foreign market is integration between business and skills, marketing principles and newfound strategies to target new consumer groups. As a founder of an international company with decades of business experience, I have seen firsthand how frustrating it can be when marketing efforts miss the target. One day you may be managing a supply chain in one country and a virtual team in another, and will you learn that it’s impossible to be an expert in every language and culture. You learn to develop a global mindset that, with today’s translation technology, takes market integration another step further. The technology is here, and the future of travel is here — we just need to embrace it.
Founder and CEO of SOURCENEXT, Japan’s publicly traded, market-leading software publisher and distributor.