With the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union, coupled with the global pandemic, the current business climate is proving worrisome for a lot of companies.
The exportation of goods is a major topic of Brexit and a cause for concern for many. So what can companies do to improve export performance? One approach has recently been suggested by ground-breaking research published by the prestigious Aston Business School at Aston University, together with the Association of Translation Companies. This research, LO-C 30, indicates that SMEs who embrace language capabilities are 30% more successful in exporting than those who do not.
In this blog entry, we describe the research and encourage you to review your current organisational-level language capacity, described in the study as LO-C.
What does the research involve?
The LO-C 30 study was undertaken by Ankita Tibrewal, PhD researcher at Aston, and gathered detailed responses from 415 UK SMEs across a range of business sectors, with the commonality of all being UK exporters of products or services.
The research assessed the motivation and preparedness of the SMEs toward developing their language-related capabilities (LO-C). It then measured the impact of LO-C on their international trading performance.
The study outlined various key drivers for LO-C: linguistic competency within a company, language training for staff, the ability to adapt to new cultural contexts, the willingness to invest in professional translation services, and an awareness of technology-facilitated language services, such as Google Translate. These key drivers were then correlated against performance of export sales, export growth and export profit.
What are the findings?
The highest-scoring driver of LO-C within a company was found to be an awareness of technology-facilitated language services, whilst the lowest-scoring driver was language training for staff.
Furthermore, the study indicated that LO-C has a very strong relationship to a company’s overall ability to develop export capabilities. Thus, LO-C was found to have a direct and significant impact upon export sales, export growth and export profit.
Overall, the study suggests that SMEs who embrace language capabilities are 30% more successful in exporting than those who do not.
What can we conclude?
The findings of the study raise two key considerations. The highest-scoring driver of LO-C within a company was reported to be an awareness of technology-facilitated language services. This suggests that many companies are using automated services, such as Google Translate, in order to communicate internationally. Whilst such services can be great for a gist understanding, we wouldn’t recommend their exclusive use for translating documentation that is intended for publication in any way. Such AI platforms for translation are prone to error and lack an understanding of context. Furthermore, the issue of professional indemnity insurance is troublesome with AI. Where can the fault be traced back to if the worst happens due to incorrectly-translated safety or legal documentation, for example?
The second key consideration is the finding that the lowest-scoring driver for LO-C is language training for staff. This suggests that few companies have in-house language capabilities. For such companies who also want to improve their export success, investment in professional translation services therefore seems prudent.
All in all, the study indicates that LO-C boosts export success and companies don’t necessarily have the best resources to do this internally. The Word Hub can help you achieve this goal! We have been in business since 2007 and are an ISO-compliant professional translation service provider. We help companies expand into their global markets and achieve growth.
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