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December 30, 2013

How To Speak Global

Posted by Sanjay Dalwani (View Profile | View All Posts) at 9:40 AM

Can you speak Esperanto? [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjB0v87oMD8]

Remember Esperanto? Several decades ago, an assortment of academics and linguists invented a language that would become (they hoped) the world's common language.

It was a flop. But I must say that the intentions behind Esperanto were admirable. If people involved in international business all spoke the same language, wouldn't it be great? Being able to communicate effortlessly across regions and markets would be immensely useful. Well, yes and no. Some other research out of academia finds that enterprises that embrace other cultures, languages, and ways of doing business are at an advantage. You might think that in the age of globalization, these findings would be obvious. But drill down a bit deeper and the reality is that many organizations expand into other countries without giving those new regions and markets much thought.

Such companies would do well to spend a lot of time analyzing how best to adapt to new markets. Any organization can expand by opening new offices overseas. But the successful ones approach each market differently. Of the many things that make me proud to be an Infoscion, is our ability to be very aware of whatever market we enter. Our company's success continues to be predicated in part on our knack for "speaking global."

Our company's recent surveys of digital consumers have been incredibly enlightening from the standpoint of how each market must be approached in a particular way. What flies in Australia might not be the way to do something in, say, South America. Therein lies the both the promise and the complexity of digital commerce. Organizations can reach more people and empower more customers than ever before. But there is no "one-size-fits-all" strategy.

Talk to any of our colleagues who work with consumer packaged goods companies. Being a CPG is a challenge, especially one that hopes to expand in the emerging markets. One of the tried and true marketing strategies of CPGs in the West is having a presence in television and print media. In the emerging markets, having a presence on the mobile devices of the customer base is far more effective. Sometimes enterprises go global with the expectation that what works in their home country will be accepted in other markets, even if it isn't something to which customers in the new country are accustomed. Not true. It's important to consider all perspectives that your regional partners and new markets can have on what might be old hat to your home office.

We've all heard the adage about thinking globally but acting locally. There's a lot to be said about learning from customers in each market all while being part of a larger corporation and the economies of scale that go with it.

Until international commerce and finance develop their own version of Esperanto, we should be focused on learning as many languages and dialects as we can.


I thought someone would comment on your view that Esperanto is "a flop". I see things very differently.

I see Esperanto as a remarkable success story. It has survived wars and revolutions and economic crises and continues to attract people to learn and speak it. Esperanto works. I've used it in speech and writing in about seventeen countries over recent years. I recommend it to anyone, as a way of making friendly local contacts in other countries.

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