Bridging the gap between globalism and language with IT
Many of our clients are headquartered in the United States and Europe and for our Japanese colleagues and myself, we are required to communicate with those stakeholders on a daily basis using our non-native language.
Many Japanese only know their mother tongue and while they possess the awareness of the importance of English, they can often display a sort of ‘allergic reaction’ to using it.
Despite working in a global environment for a number of years, I often feel that I will never be able to get over the language barrier and cultural difference in the workplace. However, our bilingual sales team communicate with our overseas clients on a daily basis and our engineers and project managers also use their bilingual skills to guide our clients through IT related issues. I believe one of the strengths of systemsGo is supporting the smooth business operations of our clients through the power of language.
Recently, we helped a multinational manufacturer headquartered in the United States with a distribution centre in China overcome their ‘global meets local’ issue. The company has superior in-house IT support services, which are available 24 hours a day from the United States in English. However due to the remote environment compounded with the language barrier, users in China were increasingly dissatisfied with the user experience and raised that it’s difficult to communicate due to the language barrier.
Despite attempts to fix the issue by the US helpdesk team and the local China management team, it was never satisfactorily resolved and continued to simmer. That’s when we came in. After being contacted by the US headquarters, we listened to their story and set out to resolve the stalemate. We firstly conducted an audit of the existing IT infrastructure then interviewed every single staff member to understand what issues were present and how they used the systems. These were then translated and worked through with staff by our bilingual engineers.
At the close of the audit, we developed a report combining all of the user feedback, our engineers own observations while on-site, and our experiences with similar organizations to clarify if the existing platform was properly built, if staff we using it correctly, and if their complaints were valid or the result of their improper usage.
In the end, we were contracted to replace the local IT team and began acting as a mediator between China based staff and the overseas IT team to improve the effectiveness of communications and quicken the resolution of issues. We also developed an internal training program of the existing IT environment. All these helped improve the IT environment, which has long been regarded as a problem area for the company.
IT sometimes causes dissatisfaction, confusion and frustration in the workplace, and if not resolved, the situation may get worse especially when regional and language gaps are involved. It is not a matter that can be solved just by language and IT skills, but rather an understanding of local culture, deep knowledge and experience of the local IT landscape and effective communication and language skills. In these cases, objective advice from the outside looking in from someone who understands these elements can change the status quo and make a breakthrough. Maybe you see the same situation happening in your organization and now could be the perfect time to tackle the issue and look for the best advice.