The Internet of Things (IoT) or, more appropriately, the Internet of Everything, has already prompted a fundamental change in how we conceptualize “internet users.”  More and more consumer devices are WiFi enabled, including heart monitors, home lighting systems, and Barbie dolls. This shift to the Internet of Things is projected to generate US$9 trillion in annual sales by 2020.  The National Science Foundation predicts that, by 2020, the Internet will have more than 5 billion users out of a global population of 7.6 billion, and many will not be using desktops or mobile devices. Our “screen-centric” perspective on what it means to be “connected” will undergo a radical shift. Consumer product digitization is projected to be one of the biggest marketing trends of 2016. Connectivity in shipping, production, logistics, and communication for global manufacturing is already underway and accelerating. The implications for translation and localization professionals are huge.

Mobile apps, e-learning modules, and responsive websites require translation services at many levels, including software strings for admin and end-user interfaces, tech support, and marketing collateral. With global businesses reaching users around the world, questions of how to “localize” devices will transcend language and increasingly extend to cultural preferences for interacting with real world objects. If these are not addressed and resolved at an early stage of development, they could sink a product’s prospects in the global market. Will visual cues and sequences need to be reversed for languages that are read right-to-left? Is the “on” position of a switch up or down? Will measurements be rendered in miles or kilometers? Fahrenheit or Celsius? Will different settings for alerts and advance notices be necessary for cultures with different concepts of timeliness? There are many culturally distinct behaviors and preferences that must be “baked in” to a product’s design.

Beyond consumer goods, the impact of the “Internet of Everything” is already deeply felt in the industrial automation marketplace. The Smart Factory Revolution has led to fundamental changes in manufacturing, as the virtual world of information technology merges with the physical nuts and bolts of industry. At MTM LinguaSoft, localization issues regularly arise in software translation projects for medical diagnostic devices, automated production lines, and, of course, the international trade in services that global connectivity has already made possible. For B2B marketers, providing productive and useful insights about the Smart Factory Revolution to target audiences is essential, as Godfrey’s Brian Moore explains in a recent blog post. In turn, localization needs for reaching foreign markets will extend beyond adapting B2B products themselves; clear and succinct communication will be required to reach buyers and sellers at all levels of industry in their own language.

The new year promises to be an exciting time for sales and manufacturing, and we are eager to help our clients meet the challenges of 2016 and succeed in the global marketplace.

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