Weathering the Economic Downturn

Arturo Quintero, Chief Corporate Strategist

Arturo QuinteroWhether the weather be fine
Or whether the weather be not
Whether the weather be cold
Or whether the weather be hot
We'll weather the weather
Whatever the weather
Whether we like it or not
- Anonymous

I was pleasantly surprised that despite the current economic weather, the recent Localization World conference in Berlin (June 8-10, 2009) attracted more than 450 attendees. Somehow, I felt the rainy weather outside the conference center was similar to the atmosphere inside. The weather those days in Berlin had the same level of unpredictability and above all the same sense of mugginess as many industries today. And as the event has shown, our language services industry is certainly being affected by the weather as well.

I would like to share my personal observations, some of my personal takeaways, and, if you’ll allow me, perhaps some recommendations. The vendor-client panel in which I participated at Localization World Berlin, “When the Going Gets Tough — The Localization Industry in Times of Economic Downturn,” was a good experience for me. Being an entrepreneur in our industry for the past 20 years helps me to compare the current state of the industry from a wider perspective, giving me a good vantage point to contribute in the hope that we all benefit.

The Positive

Let me start with my positive observations. Doom and gloom are around us everywhere these days, yet the downturn also brings a number of positive aspects and changes, which may not be immediately visible.

For one, I feel that the current economic downturn has pushed buyers and sellers of localization services into a more open environment — one where both parties share their real constraints as well as expectations from a much more open position than in the past. For so long, we were afraid or sometimes resistant to show all our cards, for various reasons. Today, we’re much more open, and this newfound openness is good.

I see the recent development as positive, since today we have an opportunity for both suppliers and vendors — really, everyone in the supply chain — to identify and work toward a common objective. Essentially, this objective is how to deliver our products to target markets at a minimum cost. Shifting our effort from that of constant negotiations to a position where it is understood by all parties that the common intent is to reduce the total cost of shipping localized products can help achieve a more productive result for us all.

To continue reading, please download the full PDF version of this article, published in MultiLingual Computing magazine #106.

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