The 2023 GALA Conference took place in Dublin last week and XTM was in attendance as one of the event’s sponsors. Every year, GALA (Globalization And Localization Association) organizes its conference, an opportunity for the globalization and localization industry to connect, network, collaborate, and learn together. You can check out our favorite highlights and photos from the event here.
This year we led the discussion around how to Accelerate Your Business Maturity with Data-driven Processes, hosted by XTM’s Director of Support Services Alex Zekakis and joined by Johan Sporre (IKEA), Giulia Tarditi (Qualtrics) and Oisín Kelly (Indeed).
Interested to hear what conclusions they came to? Then read on.
No good decisions without data
Data-driven processes are a key element to any company who wishes to improve the maturity of its programs and, overall, their business model. The overarching principle of programs is to strategize how operations are executed and how to learn about and address improvement opportunities. Nowadays, none of the decisions involved in any program can be made without backing them up with solid data.
Data is available everywhere we look, but how it’s leveraged and applied is the real differentiator. For this reason, data visualization is key, since it helps companies identify and track patterns and trends, make predictions about future events and track performance amongst the whirlwind of data available to them. In other words, it helps understand what the data is telling us and provides clarity and transparency to our business activities and allows us to make informed decisions.
Creating an analytics stream enabled our long-term localization vision.”— Oisín Kelly | Indeed
We are in an unprecedented era, an era in which data— and information—volumes have become huge, yet they have never been more accessible before. Organizations no longer struggle to have data readily available in the first place, as might have been the case several years ago. Now, the struggle relates to managing, processing and making the most of the data available to an organization. This can include figuring out what data is needed, for what purpose and how it can be leveraged. Think about examples from your world: “How much did we save by deploying this program? How much did we spend? What’s the quality of our vendors? How much capacity do we have available?” Timeless questions that can now be answered thanks to data.
In this session, the panel looked at how data-driven processes are key in building up business maturity, and how data visualization is the most effective way of visually identifying where we are, how we got here and where we can go.
Establishing a foundation
When talking about having data available or how to retrieve it, the first question becomes what is required to build-up a proper data source, or how to make this process happen. The panelists discussed how they transitioned from concept to implementation.
API connections become major solutions in order to retrieve the data we need.”— Johan Sporre | IKEA Retail – Ingka Group
“We first brought in a third party to help us measure our localization maturity, and data scoping was a big part of that.” Tarditi explained, as Qualtrics later went on to “mapping out what company data points would be relevant for us to track for each localization initiative we would embark on.”. Kelly pointed out that it was the need for quality data that pushed them to embark on a more complex process “As we matured [technologically], we took a step back and created an analytics stream which enabled our long-term localization vision. It contained areas such as analytics, vision, mapping out our current data infrastructure, technology and architecture, operating model, program support and maintenance, roadmap, and data governance.”
For a data structure to work on a continual basis, resources need to be allocated and systems need to be connected and deployed to achieve objectives. Sporre mentioned that in order to do this, it was necessary to add people from the outside “We brought some data scientists in to help understand the data and also hired an engineer for the job. [In order to retrieve data], API connections become major solutions in order to achieve this goal.”, a sentiment echoed by Kelly, “We have a dedicated analytics person who is focused on executing our strategy and supporting the growth of our department’s data skills with the goal of enabling people to self-serve some data when needed themselves.” Perhaps more importantly, he explained that they’ve adopted a more specialized approach to data when it comes to each team “We also have data captains in most of our sub teams who work with this dedicated analytics person on driving the strategy forward and being the main data POC for their team.”
Benefitting from the impact
From deploying additional resources to asserting that KPIs are necessary when assessing whether to deploy a service or tool or not, companies realize that using data requires preparation, a process and a vision, as well as a deep understanding of what can actually happen once you get your hands around data. So, is it worth it and how can this worth be measured? One of the key indicators that a data structure is helping your company is by assessing progression in technological maturity.
I see so many people refusing to become data-driven, being scared of it or putting it off because they think that their decades of experience in the field means they’re above it — Don’t be afraid of it.”— Giulia Tarditi | Qualtrics
“By deploying a data structure, in 18 months we went up from a [maturity level ]1 out of 5 to a 4 out of 5. This score is 10% higher and is an improvement that happened 2.5x faster compared to SaaS standards.” Tarditi said. “We have seen that our impact has multiplied. Our brand in the company has had a tremendous uplift in reputation. We have become known as a team that knows how to generate impact, how to report out on it, and a team that is always measuring and trying to do better. We are pioneering this approach within our company and we get so much great feedback. We solicit feedback all the time.”
Sporre added that “When users start to ask questions and want to learn more, we have to dig deeper, and it’s hard to explain the impact of certain actions and get funding without using data. In other words, it’s those things that are measurable that get done and can be improved”. Kelly expanded on the impact that data has in decision-making “When people in the company are submitting projects for approval, there is a dedicated section around data and impact. If you have not thought about this or explained how data is going to be used in this project, there is a high chance it will be rejected.”
Stepping over the pitfalls
Lastly, the panelists addressed the pitfalls of data-driven processes and how they’ve navigated through these challenges: “Start small and grow from there” Sporre recommended “as it’s the key to being able to learn [the lessons] and expand [the process] to bigger things”. “I see so many people refusing to become data-driven, being scared of it or putting it off because they think that their decades of experience in the field means they’re above it.” Tarditi said. “Don’t be afraid of it. A data program is not a static thing. It is something that is constantly evolving. It must be built around what keeps a company up at night.”Buy now from anywhere – How smart localization is helping online retailers successfully adjust their global content strategies to meet fast-changing global buyer trends
Data is everywhere, and we can bring data to life. Building upon data-driven processes will significantly impact your technological maturity. But adopting this approach is not a simple decision, nor one that you can execute overnight. Companies who have successfully adopted data-driven decision-making, as we’ve seen our panelists explain, take it slow and then start to progressively expand, getting the right setup and resources in place. In the end, data can provide you with phenomenal value that can lead you to the point where all your decisions made across your program are substantiated, well-informed and, most likely, the right ones.
If you’d like to learn more about empowering your localization program with best-in-class technology that can provide you all the data you need to drive up your presence in global markets, get in touch with us — we’ll be delighted to explore ways to help you grow!