It wasn’t long ago when the common University mentality was that English was the language of business, 2003 to be accurate. But this was another thing that University seems to have been wrong about. Fast forward to 2010 and the advancement of a globally interconnected world and it would appear that the only way forward for globalization is the adoption of many languages and cultures.
I have spent the weekend skydiving with a commune of skydivers at Medio in Celle, Germany. The divers spend their afternoons jumping out of airplanes and the evenings uploading and being plugged into the wireless Internet. They review pages and contact people in French, Spanish, English and German. They talk with friends and friends from all over the world in multiple languages.
While the old guard is still working in only English, the newer younger generation is changing and networking the world in multiple languages. It is no longer simply enough to spend four semesters learning to read basic Spanish in University. If leaders of tomorrow want to continue to succeed and excel in international business then it will be a must that they begin learning to communicate in multiple languages and living and being apart of foreign communities.
To learn to be effective in the world of globalization one must not simply learn to communicate in multiple languages they must also be able to integrate and understand multiple cultural attitudes, and not expect that the world of Universities will bring these opportunities to campus dorms. Even if a student takes a semester abroad, it is not likely that they will actually have the chance to integrate into or learn about what the culture is truly like. For those of you who are interested in learning more about language options, I would suggest busuu.com to see a great option.
In 1996 in the “English Only Worldwide or Language Ecology?” Robert Phillipson and Tove Skutnabb-Kangas discussed the concept that the worldwide web could be helping to develop the ecology-of-language. As we actively move into a less clear understanding of what the future will bring, one thing appears to be evident. To be successful in the world of marketing to be successful we must learn to work together. We must be willing and interested in learning more than just languages. We must also be interested in understanding cultural differences. The world of digital marketing, just like all other aspects of life we can no longer living with blinders of the world around us.
These developments have been thanks, in no small part, to the strong infrastructure that has been developed by France and Germany with their own language specific environments. But to be able to reach target audiences we must do more than simply know that they exist, we must have insight of the cultural norms and attitudes. Your ROI seems to be more effective when it is spent on hiring smaller boutique agencies that have key insight into your target audience, and not simply hiring a large global agency who is oblivious to the rest of the world.
Having worked in a global agency, I have seen first-hand how an agency can attempt to bring in outsiders as CEO’s. And I have seen these people cost agencies multi-million dollar accounts. Not mention adding a client that no longer wishes to work with our agency.