Network Economy – A Brief Review of the Global Language Service Industry

November 9, 1989 was one of the most important events in modern history, launching an entirely new era of economic thought. This was the day when the separation of Berlin came to and end. It triggered a new era, in which economy could really grow global and legislation preventing global communication could be abolished. And in fact, these laws and rules were relaxed, but there is still a barrier, which has limited global communication since the dawn of civilization: multiple languages. It is not even easy to determine the number of languages spoken around the world (e.g. is the German spoken in Germany the same language as the German spoken in Switzerland, as this can hardly be understood by non-Swiss people?). There are several approaches to define a language, but based on the most commonly accepted parameters of the language service industry, the total number of languages used and/or spoken around the world is 6,913.

However, it is essential for the global economy to have participants, who are able to understand each other very precisely and without slightest misunderstandings. This can be attained in but two ways:

1. By establishing/electing a common language
2. By using language intermediaries

Both solutions have their benefits and downsides under certain circumstances. Establishing a common language usually constrained by national pride and cultural legacy. Thus, the use of certain languages is mandatory in several countries, while neglecting its use is considered a felony.

Therefore the global economy is turning towards the second solution, as this one seems to be easier to realize and pose less obstruction in the way of doing business than lobbying for the change of long-established and highly sensitive policies.

This huge demand led to the creation of intense supply, but based on a very special business model. Before, however, investigating deeper into the language industry itself, let’s review its special requirements and unique characteristics:

1. Industry members are seldom found in one location, as usually different languages are spoken in different countries, thus, native providers are rarely collocated.

2. Huge supply meets enormous and growing demand. The volume of the global language service industry is estimated to be somewhere around $12 billion and handling about 500 million pages of translation and localization every year. If you were to print this amount of paper and put each sheet on top of each other, you would get a tower 28.5 miles high. That is more than five times higher than Everest.

3. It is very difficult to establish objective and indisputable quality measures. Each product and service has to be evaluated on its own, as it is very difficult to determine objective pertinence measures.

These challenges are responded to by an industry based on strong, global networking principles. End clients usually get in touch with agencies or other types of network nodes. These play an arbitrary role between the demand and supply sides, as selecting, testing and managing the right professionals would usually exceed the capacities of end clients or would significantly decrease their efficiency. Network nodes play a similar role like agencies, but these do not order order translations in their own names to bill those to their own clients, but instead support the process of demand and supply finding each other, and provide valuable resources for evaluating providers by applying peer review solutions. Translators are mainly in touch with such agencies and nodes, but are rarely employed by these. Instead, they work in networks, thus creating a global and virtual enterprise. Agencies, nodes and translators are commonly referred to as ‘cloud’. Of course, like each other industry, the language service industry has its real global players as well, who are able to influence the entire market due to their size and relation system. Such global players are for example Lionbridge Technologies, SDL International – involved in both language service provision and technology development – but also Xerox, well known for its high quality office machines.

Currently the market is lead by Lionbridge’s 50 offices, $375 million revenue and about 4,000 people on its payroll.

The cloud is supported by auxiliary industries, mainly involved in developing specialized software products and services. E.g. there are several solutions for recycling the translators’ knowledge-base (called translation memory) or managing localization projects effectively, but possibilities are absolutely endless.

It is a solid fact that the translation industry would not be able to perform on such a high level without networking as it is currently a huge virtual network of individuals and companies. Current development points into the direction of strengthening. This is underlined by the appearance of new solutions enabling translators and other professionals to co-operate on various projects and reuse the knowledge created at other points of the network. A successful evolution of these solutions will be essential to the growth and development of this industry and the companies involved in it.

Cost Effective Business Services

A business services franchise is a good option for many who are willing to serve the corporate world. A business franchisee needs an investment in terms of fees, real estate, marketing, merchandise etc. there are both small business services as well as high cost businesses in the category. Here we discuss some prominent business services franchises.

Financial services: The financial services space is rapidly growing in India. It is one of the most significant business services in India. According to the latest Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) data, financial services, banking, insurance and real estate sectors have risen by 7.8 per cent in the third quarter of 2009-10. This displays the success of the financial service industry. With the over-all increase in the finance services seekers, finance service providers took to franchise route, thus creating a great scope for franchise opportunity.

Till a few years back, the franchising which was an unknown concept in this field has gained lot of momentum in the present times. Before discussing the factors responsible for this development, let us first get familiar with the term ‘Financial services franchisors’.

Financial services refer to services provided by the financial service companies. The finance service companies encompass a broad range of organisations that deal with money management. A few of these organisations include banks, insurance companies, consumer finance companies, stock brokerages, investment funds etc. These companies offer various services such as asset protection, investment and savings, retirement plans, customer-orientated service, besides offering personal loans, commercial loans, mortgage loans, and education loans for the aspiring students. Financial service providers are on the rise as franchising as a mode of expansion is being opted by this industry. Manish Shah, Associate Director- Business Strategy, Equity & Product Development, Motilal Oswal Securities Ltd shared, “The belief in entrepreneurship and the drive it brings to the business, made Motilal Oswal take the franchise route. Franchising brings more scalability to the business and the business becomes entrepreneur driven.”

Courier Services: Another category of business services is courier service. The companies basically work around transportation of goods from one place to another, delivery of documents, packages, and larger shipments of products. These provide services to companies and individuals who need rapid service, accountability, and tracking that regular mail does not accommodate. Courier services are more reliable and dependable as compared to ordinary postal services due to less time consumed and delivery guarantee. However, with the introduction of modern gadgets and faster modes of transportation this system has also progressed a lot. Moreover, franchising is also one of the main stimulants of its popularity and profitability.

Franchising in this sector has grown with more and more players taking the franchise model for reaching out to far flung areas in the vast nation. Courier service companies are required to deliever important mails and parcels to any part, whether city, town or village in the country. Therefore, franchising can be the best mode for guaranteed delivery of the items. According to DS Patel, Channel Head, DTDC, “Franchising is an essential and most effective way of expanding the network. Opening our own company owned courier offices is very expensive and time consuming. However a franchise outlet is economically beneficial to the company.” As informed by Praveen Govindraj, Assistant General Manager, First Flight Courier, “Franchising definitely helps in directly reaching to far-fling areas for delivering items due to our local partners in those areas.” He further added, “Franchising can be a win-win situation for both the franchisor and franchisees as both benefit from it. The local partner (franchisee) has a much better idea of a particular locality than the main company which is based out of Delhi or Mumbai. Delivering parcels to small towns and cities becomes difficult and also take a lot of time if it is done by the company in metropolitan areas. At such times the local franchisee can be of great help.” This can be the major reason for courier companies to opt for the franchise route. Moreover, having local partners all over the nation, who deliver all items on time, also increases the credibility and profit making of the parent company.

The typical feature of the courier service franchise includes doorstep booking, customer convenience and security of each and every consignment that has been entrusted to it. Jaguar Couriers Franchise, Blazeflash Couriers, etc are some of the franchising companies under this category.

Cartridge refilling: Cartridge refilling forms another business service category. In the modern age of I.T, there is a constantly growing need of cartridgere-fills. Foraying in the cartridge refill industry through franchise route is a promising venture. A cartridge refill franchise offers to its user’s quality refills at a fractional cost. Current industry trends and future projections suggest that printer cartridges demand will continue to multiply at a very fast pace as computers and low cost printers swamp the market. Cartridge World, Cartridge CafĂ©, Cartridge Xpress are some of the good low-cost franchise options.

Challenges

Every business has attached to it certain set of challenges. Though the basic challenges remain the same across the board for all business service franchises, their relevance with each sector differs.
Before opting for any of the above options, clear all your doubts. Apart from your initial investment, take into account the ongoing costs that must be paid to your franchisor, including franchise royalties, marketing fees and other required purchases. After you are convinced go ahead and make your mark in the franchising world!

Global Trends For the Financial Service Industry

As the economic crisis continues to unfold, the financial service industry faces serious challenges. The crisis is rooted in continuous imbalances, including long periods of low interest rates, rapidly rising asset prices, and massive credit and savings imbalances. The 2007 and 2008 Reports from the World Economic Forum predicted these changes as continuous risk to the market.

Earlier decades of exceptional growth and capitalism at its best have now caused the market to adapt to tighter credit, growing government intervention, slowing pace of globalization, and no economic growth. With increasing regulations in the United States and decreasing availability of credit, the industry faces a significant risk of stunted growth. The global recession is also affecting the financial sector because of capital markets and decreased aggregate demand, according to Max von Bismarck, Director and Head of Investor Industries.

This article will provide leaders, employees and investors in the financial service industry with five unique and timely trends to keep in the forefront of their growth strategies for the next five years. These five key trends will shape the post financial crisis in a holistic and systematic manner.

FIVE KEY TRENDS

GLOBAL BANKING. According to the World Bank, although many banks such as American Express, Citibank and JPMorgan Chase conduct business in multiple countries, they are relatively regional in the United States. In order to grow, the financial industry will have to infiltrate emerging markets. For companies that have a more aggressive growth strategy, the spread to emerging markets such as Africa and Asia presents unparalleled opportunities for profit and increased market share.

IT PLATFORM SHARING. Network World confirms that financial service firms’ business strategies must be altered for the new dynamics and intricacies of today’s market. Immediate access to information and integration along product lines and geography are a must for future success. With the need to supply information to a global market, firms must decrease cost. One cost effective initiative is the use of platform sharing; like cell phone companies that collaborate with local companies in order to decrease cost and increase access, financial firms can do the same.

E-BANKING. A special report from The Economist sees that with 3.5 billion people with cell phones and an expected 10-20% year over year growth, personal and business banking transactions are conducted through cell phones more and more. Thus, E-banking capability is quickly becoming an increasing requirement in order to compete in the marketplace. E-banking capabilities provide companies with essential flexibility and differentiation in the market through Internet-based service applications.

MOBILE MONEY. The increase of mobile phone usage in emerging markets makes mobile money a safe, low cost initiative for the financial sector. It is an easier way to transfer money to family and friends, money is sent, and payments and withdrawals can be made without ever going to a physical bank or payment center. M-Pesa, an early developer of mobile money, concluded that mobile money “has enormous social and economic benefits.”

SELF-SERVICE. Self-service and the customer should be a primary focus for firms in this new financial service world, according to IBM. AppViewXS is a self-service portal firms can purchase, so customers can check the status of their account and gain instant access to available services. Customer questions and concerns are addressed more quickly, states an IBM representative. This technology automates many processes; the result is that staff workload is reduced while representatives operate faster and more efficiently.

Financial service firms need to have sustainable, steady expansion in the emerging markets in order to grow in the future. Deloitte and Touche Research reports that financial service firms have not positioned themselves to capitalize on more geographically dispersed opportunities. More than 93 percent of the executives interviewed for this report acknowledged that their firms “are not operating in a globally integrated fashion.”

The same report states that financial firms need to invest away from veteran or mature markets and toward emerging markets because “by 2025, veteran markets will be rivaled by other markets with faster growing economies and increasingly sophisticated financial product appetites.” USA based firms can look toward Japanese and African markets for expansion opportunities. Kennedy Consulting analysts believe that the market will rebound from the global financial crisis in 2011, but there will not be any return to the robust levels prior to 2007 until much later in the decade; hopefully, the five key trends in this report will help the leaders, employees and investors in the financial service industry to look toward a robust sound future.

In addition to growth strategies, in the 2002 Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing, Henson and Wilson discuss the extreme changes that have occurred in the financial service industry and how many firms are trying to develop and execute successful strategies based on innovative technology and customers. Aside from the regular ups and downs of the financial world, technology and innovation will always prevail as the win-win for the financial service industry. Because online banking has become the norm for most customers, technology will be very important in these firms’ strategies.

With the customer at the center of most trends in financial service firms, creating new values for their current and potential clients beyond current expectations will be a top priority. The need for convenience mixed with technology makes mobile money a great initiative in the emerging as well as the developed markets. Many firms have speed pay, the ability to pay without swiping the card, as part of their credit card services. An embedded chip in the credit card enables payments to be made by putting the card close to the payment processor. Mobile money will be an expansion of payment and money transfers without the need for a card, the need to go to a physical bank, or to use Internet banking. Payments, transfers, deposits and withdrawals can be made with a cell phone.

The World Bank concurs that innovative technology and an increase in e-business strategies will lead to much lower costs and greater competition in financial services. Internet and related technologies, the World Bank affirms, are more than just new delivery channels; they are an inexpensive, different, and very effective way to provide the same services. Since financial service firms must grow organically, build customer loyalty, and accommodate the customers’ expanding needs for services and convenience, partnerships with new technology businesses will allow them to lower their expenses and be competitive.

Established firms such as Amex, Citibank, and others can partner with groups such as the wired tech savvy Google Alumni who are not averse to risk and who own fledgling technology businesses that are reshaping the industry with a new wave of innovative products, write Spencer Ante and Kimberly Weisul of Business Week. Mobile Money Ventures is one such fledgling company that is a provider on the forefront of alternative financial service products. Small companies such as these are able to provide well-known financial firms the wherewithal to open in emerging markets where there is a need for cooperation with other firms in order to attain then obtain the local customer base.

Today’s competition is fueled not just by profitable customers, but also by the firms that are the most efficient and cost effective. Procedural and cultural clash will result from expanding into unknown markets as seen by the history of Citibank in Asia Minor. But in the long run, tighter regulations, new technology and improved business processes will cause expanding in emerging markets not only to change the demographics of the clients (both geographically and core clients), but also to better the global economy and the future of the financial services industry. Keeping the previous trends at the forefront of managers’ strategic plans, financial firms will rebound bigger and better than ever.

Marketing Your Business Services

Marketing your business services, in essence, is an art form rooted in knowing your market inside and out. This is the single most important component to your campaign and should be treated like a plant in a ceramic pot sitting on your office window sill. You must accommodate it’s every need to keep it alive and flourishing.

Let’s start with defining your business. What are your business goals? In order to be a successful company, you must maintain a target focus. Master an approach to three or four major industries. As you specialize in these industry segments, you will have in your possession, the knowledge required to cater to their needs and increase your competitiveness. Illuminate all of your success stories within these industries to sell yourself into new business accounts.

Your marketing material is your identity. It should represent your brand and services. The more creative you are with your design and copy, the better chance you have to platform yourself as not just a role model, but a leader of your field. This component introduces us to the next element: your industry profile. Reach out to external organizations and participate in their programs. This is a great way to showcase your work and contribute to the community. You may consider trade shows, open houses and most importantly volunteer work. These are great avenues for showcasing your capabilities.

Return on investment (ROI) is most clearly demonstrated with direct marketing. The best way to increase the return on your investment is through target marketing. This is done by picking through large amounts of your customer data and specifying your campaign and content towards a particular demographic and sale. This element will help you to build your appeal not just to prospects but also to your existing customers.

Remember, you have many audiences: your customers, your community, the media and your employees. Tailor your strategies and activities to your purpose with each of them.

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