The Age Of Digital Globalization Is The Age Of Simplicity

Thinking about simplicity in complex situations is not considered the norm. It may even sound contradictory or risky. However, keeping experiences as simple as possible is a critical success factor in digital globalization. It enables both global business leaders and customers to make the most out of their time and money.

On the one hand, global customers have a choice of channels, media, and offerings that are evermore increasingly broader, as borders and boundaries tend to become blurred online. Digital customer experiences have become like journeys or cruises, where customers are travelers, stopping from time to time to visit places and meet people according to their needs or preferences. No matter how complicated it may be to achieve, they require that making their way be as simple as possible.

On the other hand, global leaders and their organizations must be in sync with their customers to envision and deliver on the seamless and holistic experiences they expect. This implies executive alignment, functional efficiency and transformational practices to implement and ensure excellence along the way.  In addition to disruptive customers, businesses have to cope with fierce competition that is never far away – and often international. Here too, complexity is the common ground global business leaders should walk on with a good deal of simplicity to remain agile.

From a digital globalization perspective, let’s highlight what simplicity means walking by in the shoes of people who are actually looking for it. For customers, the short description may be “I want my digital experience to reflect who I am, how I talk, where I live, and what I do” – leading to personal experiences more than general experience. Global customers expect centricity, making and keeping content and products simple for them based on:

Engagement Rather Than Information:
Global customers want to feel comfortable quickly and continuously. The era of somewhat passive customers is over, and they now know they are in the driver’s seat. Brands, products, and content must be flawless to avoid any doubt, misunderstanding, or slow motion in their mind. Campaigns must be driven by cultural and emotional endorsement to be an effective touch point – and sometimes a trigger – in the overall experience. It is rather easy to compare creative efforts to boost engagement across multiple markets – seeing how they “wrap customers in a blanket” that is a teaser as much as a softener, and that is perceived differently in each country or region.

Their Language Rather Than A Language:
Global customers are diverse and demanding. The customer language is neither a mixed bag nor a shared baseline. It is made of words, tones of voice and meanings each customer refers to, consciously or not, as part of a group and as an individual. There are plenty of examples of brand names or product labels that have broken international customer experiences because of semantic ambiguity, stylistic glitches, and spelling mistakes. As their language goes further than words, global customers do not tolerate wrong assumptions. Opting for what is most actionable and memorable for them, while placing their personal preferences above general requirements

Their Voice Rather Than An Echo:
Global customers want content and products made ‘for them’ instead of made ‘in somewhere’. As customization and personalization are not new in the digital world, they are now playing out within a framework that is more global and extended than ever. With a variety of digital channels making them exposed to a growing amount of content they value quality as much as consistency and coherence. They want to feel delighted personally, without discrimination of physical location and digital environment.

For global organizations simplicity means, first of all, keeping up with existing and evolving customer expectations in general, and with the simplicity perspectives of global customers in particular. Global leaders have to (re-)shape mindsets, processes, and practices from within and bring alignment and innovation to keep moving to the next level. That is why simplicity often goes hand in hand with innovation – promoting reinvention, transformation and change management. Realistically they should:

Understand Their Customers Rather Than Know Customers:
Global leaders need to capture and measure all facets of their global customers upfront. Beyond selecting and leveraging smart data, it boils down to knowing why they choose products and when they use them, in order to determine what products they consider eventually. This is quite different than starting to design and develop products before analyzing why they use them or not. In other words, global customer aspirations should come before global product specifications. This approach also enables global leaders to segment and target customers across and within international markets, based on existing do’s and don’ts as well as moving trends. Proper and timely understanding translates into streamlined product management and well-targeted branding efforts.

Sell Their Story Rather Than Tell A Story:
Global leaders should not make customers think (too long). There is no dull moment or wrong direction in successful digital experiences. Energizing global customers from the outset adds a powerful layer of simplicity. Branding campaigns or product sheets are powerful assets in customer acquisition, satisfaction, and retention, and therefore, demand generators as much as sales accelerators. In the digital globalization age, customers have to be fired up anytime and anywhere without having to guess or be distracted. While creating appealing stories remains critical, global leaders should ensure these stories contribute to digital transformation and acceleration just like each phase of the global product value chain, like localization, should do both regarding content and container.

Care For Content Effectiveness Rather Than Content Management:
Global leaders know rationality matters and facts talk above all else. As content effectiveness is the reward of effective content management for global customers, they should pay much attention to why content is customer centric and products are intuitive internationally. Brand effectiveness is a great example of best practices in focusing on drivers and indicators in that area such as accuracy, memorability, readability, or connectivity. This is where the voice of global leaders and customers meet and mix to create meaningful – and simple – experiences.

In any case, simplicity likes simplification – it hates oversimplification however. Unfortunately, it is a pitfall in digital globalization both when it is initiated and accelerated. Going global in our digital world is a profit driver but can also quickly become a growth killer considering the scope and amounts of investment. Leadership in this field cannot be established and strengthened with misconceptions or loopholes. Some underlying factors, dependencies, and change agents cannot be ignored and are here to stay. Embracing them – as the world is certainly not flat in digitalization – is going to make engaging content, value-adding products and strong brands stand out from everything that is boring, interesting or common for global customers. That is to say, it is going to make digital globalization – and your life – simpler…