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Language localization: Take your business to a billion more people One of the biggest challenges for most Indians in accessing the Internet and using its services is language.

By Rakesh Kapoor

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Abhinay, aged 22, hailing from Gujarat is a young and extremely friendly boy. As any youngster would be at his age, Abhinay was also keen on buying a smartphone, learn and use new features, browse interesting content on-the-go, shop online, make new friends on chat, send and receive messages from his loved ones and update himself on a world of new tech gadgets.

Always on the lookout for a friendlier device, the only factor that disheartened him was the unavailability of smartphones in his native language – A language that he understands better. Similarly, his mother hailed from Maharashtra and was well versed in Marathi.

Abhinay was perplexed and was on a lookout, where could he find a phone that would solve the purpose in his or his mother's language. The incompetence of devices and Internet resources to prove useful to many such Abhinays' in India is making businesses less personal, and hence less profitable.

However, understanding the requirements of Indian markets, brands like Samsung, Gionee, Lava and Intex are equipping their devices with keypads that support 21 regional languages, thus acing the race of mobile penetration in India.

So while device manufacturers are setting up the stage for Internet and app-based businesses to reach the niche markets, the ultimate performers on this stage are the mobile businesses and upcoming startups targeting Tier 2 and 3 cities.

One of the biggest challenges for most Indians in accessing the Internet and using its services is language. Most businesses are catering to the non-English speaking population and enabling the right multilingual technology at the beginning of their journey ensures access to a larger Indian base.

Startups that are aggregating cab and auto rickshaw drivers, grocery providers, cleaners, and many others like them should ensure they have a multilingual interactive platform for all their end users.

Importance of Language Localization in Indian Market

As the name suggests Language Localization essentially means the art of turning content of a website or a mobile application to suit the needs of target audiences in a language that connects with them on the platform of cultural sensitivity.

In a market like India where there is no dearth of cultures, regions, states and dialects, language localization is considered a high priority since not every local is comfortable with English. Language localization gives a friendlier feel to the entire experience of browsing if not more.

This is amply evident in all the marketing and advertising that happens for any business in local channels like print and media - it is always designed in the end user's local language.

India is a country where English is not the native language and approximately 80 percent of India is non-English literate and relies upon native languages which could be Hindi, Gujarati, Bengali, Telugu, Marathi and many more.

According to IAMAI report, India has 353 million Internet users as of June 2015. The number of local language Internet users in India is growing at 47 percent year-on-year and has touched 127 million in June 2015, thanks to the increasing use of smartphones in rural areas of the country.

Localization therefore is not just a strategy to reach out to the semi-urban and rural users as 47 percent of urban users prefer to use Internet in native languages. In addition, number of local language Internet users is growing much faster than English language users.

New entrants to the entrepreneurial world are tapping in on the opportunity to grow in the Tier 2 and 3 cities through various services and the only way to grow and prosper in those cities is by strategizing and adopting language localization.

To achieve localization, there can be four major mechanisms that once added to the basic planning of any business will add up to marking a presence on the Internet world and mobile apps.

  • Strategizing: Formulate a strategy for the target markets, the user base and their native languages
  • Planning for Technological Support: Partnering with a right technology provider can help scalability for startups and maximize the ROI.
  • Subject Matter and scope required to be translated: Identifying the sets of database and content which are dynamic or static in nature. Information sets being updated on daily basis have a real need for live translation.
  • Customer Experience: Aesthetic fonts and layouts, on-the-go translations all combine to give a seamless experience to the user.
  • Budgeting and planning: Each business will have its own scope and scale at which it needs to get worked upon.

Looking at these essentials, one may realize that the right localization partner makes a big difference in establishing a successful platform. Localising language is neither an extensive nor an expensive ordeal. Reasonable on the pocket, technology is so advanced now that content gets easily converted to other languages as the host codes get easily integrated with localized versions.

Localizing an existing website/mobile site and app generally requires no change in source codes. It eliminates the need for time-taking changes to be made by the client's development team to their existing properties and offers scalability.

A business can spread further by picking on the chord that is closest to the consumer's heart, i.e. becoming available in their native language. It proves a visible commitment towards the consumer and the efforts a business enterprise is putting in to make the entire process worthwhile and uncomplicated.

Websites, mobile phones and even mobile apps these days have advanced to provide local language options since it is a better way to keep customer audiences connected. With a population of more than a billion people, India is home to nearly four hundred languages.

Almost everyone has a familiarity with Hindi and English however the Indian Constitution acknowledges and has added 22 additional scheduled languages as a part of it too.

How does Language Localization Benefit Entrepreneurs?

  • Reaching a billion more people and having a wider spread of your business through a onetime effort of language localization is a boon for any business setup.
  • Customer retention is a lot more as compared to a single language website or app since customers build a certain amount of trust towards the services provided, resulting in an increase in brand loyalty.
  • Depending on the target audience more and more languages can be added even to the extent that international languages can be updated scaling the business from a national to an international brand.
  • Language localization is a powerful tool since there are higher chances to increase the number of sales through building that connect with the consumer where he understands the product or service better.

These are simply a few pointers that direct to the benefits of language localization on your websites and mobile apps to help scale your business to higher horizons. The potential and growth of the newly found industry in India is immense and is something that will develop into a major gold mine since languages are never going to fizzle out.

Their usage would be beneficial to any business platform to connect with its prospective clientele. It is obvious that quality and service should be tremendous and an experience a consumer cherishes, however transforming that experience in their native language would be an asset.

Rakesh Kapoor

CEO, Process Nine Technologies

Rakesh Kapoor is a Computer Science graduate from BITS Pilani. He is a serial entrepreneur who started his first venture Summit Information Technologies in the early 90s. He started Process 9 in 2011 with the vision of breaking the language barriers in technology and making computers and the internet accessible to all Indians in their native language. Rakesh also co-chairs the NASSCOM Regional Council for Haryana and is a charter member of TiE.

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