CommonSense Blog

The Three Language Skills Important to Building a Global S²aaS Firm

By Bob Pearson | Aug 25, 2013

We are in the process of creating a next generation firm that provides software and services as a service to our clients anywhere in the world.  The result of building a firm like this is that we realize we need to have three important language skills.

We know that we need to be proficient in languages that humans speak and machines use. They are equally important.   We know that we need to speak ten languages to reach 82 percent of people online and closer to 27 to provide true global support in most key countries.  And we know we need to understand how words work together to shape behavior.  Here’s more on each of these skills.

#1 – The Big 3 of Human Language — for each language, we strive to have industry expertise, cultural knowledge and language fluency.   It’s not enough to translate language.  If we are to provide enterprise-level insights for the top brands in the world daily, our team needs to know the ins and outs of a country and a market category.  Industry, culture and language fluency…..

Today, our team speaks 21 languages and we’re rapidly building out the big 3.

#2 – The Top Machine Languages (and technologies) — We know that it is equally important to be fluent in programming languages that drive enterprise-level insights and effective use of big data.  Our growing team of 20 software developers and engineers are expert in many languages ( Java, Python, PHP, JavaScript, Perl, SQL and C++ to name a few) and key technologies/database/query tools, ranging from Hadoop to ElasticSearch to PostgreSQL to IQuery and NGINX).

It’s not enough to be a developer that simply works hard and cranks out code.  The big 3 apply.  Our team needs to understand the needs of the industry/clients we serve, understand how to integrate well with our clients (cultural fluency) and know the language or technology fluently.  Innovation and intimate knowledge of a client’s needs are related.  Our software developers are as important as the creative directors of any agency.  Both develop great ideas and solutions that we had never thought of before.

#3 – The Words that Drive Language – often referred to as natural language processing, it is time for firms like ours to build our own taxonomies that show patterns of word choice that are aligned with each phase of behavioral change online.  NLP does an excellent job of focusing on the choices of words in a sentence, ala how nouns, verbs and adjectives work together to make a statement.  We can now go well beyond this to see repeatable patterns of word and phrase choices associated with inflection points in a behavioral cycle, ala what the impact of a product review is on changing the dialogue or leading to a purchase.  Does the language towards a purchase accelerate due to a review?  When do we see an issue forming and why?  And on and on…..

We know that computer code knows no boundaries and neither do our ideas.  The only barrier to a firm like ours is the speed at which we can combine our expertise in human and machine language with our knowledge of which words matter.

The firms that know what is happening in locations thousands of miles away will be more valuable than the teams with people on the ground who are doing what worked yesterday.  Together, of course, these same two groups can team up and build advantage for clients, regardless of whether they are in the same firm or network.  After all, it’s the brand that matters, not the network of the agency.  And its why we are always willing to be the best partner with our client’s agencies.  Always.

Insightful knowledge is borderless.  It’s also not easy to achieve.  Firms that can intelligently speak with anyone, anywhere in the world about the insights they are seeing in a local market and figure out what it means together, will build partnerships that are game-changing.  When we can provide those same insights at an enterprise level, in the cloud, via any device, even better.

Through effective use of language and technologies, we are on a journey to unlock the full potential of today’s brand.

All the best, Bob

  • Anonymous

    This is one of those “why isn’t everyone else talking about this” perspectives. Broken down a little further, I can also see it as a need to understand the Three C’s:
    (1) conversation CONTEXT
    (2) digital CONSTRUCT
    (3) keyword CADENCE