Interview by Cameron Rasmusson
This profile is supported by Acolad
The past several years have kept the team at Acolad busy. And it’s no wonder. The company has experienced increasing demand for its services that include translation, localization, interpreting, and more in key industries like life sciences, finance, and ecommerce — just to name a few. Pair that with some key acquisitions, and company CEO Olivier Marcheteau is moving forward with an eye toward growth. We spoke to him to learn a few details about that vision.
With the world becoming more globalized than ever the past few years, there’s opportunity for businesses of all sizes to reach new markets. How does Acolad seek to help these growth-oriented businesspeople?
We see that growth-oriented companies and leaders are becoming increasingly aware of the intrinsic value of content to push for better business performance. In today’s global economy, external expansion is a necessity, and language can be decisive in the success or failure of a business. We believe so strongly in this premise that we even made it our motto — “turning content into value” — which means to leverage content as a key driver for global growth journeys.
It’s becoming vital for any company to understand that a large part of their profitability is linked to content and localization. International trade is increasingly digital, and globalization is no longer about having a physical presence in other countries. These days, you can reach international audiences virtually from anywhere, but you need to remain relevant and adapt your communication to the local cultures in order to succeed.
The fact that we have been in this industry for almost three decades places us in a privileged position to understand the specificities of each business and the evolution of customer, market, and industry requirements. By partnering in their internationalization journey, we support organizations that look for fast scaling, streamlining their approach to global content while surpassing budget constraints and enabling better resource management.
How does Acolad’s global footprint assist in that endeavor?
Our global footprint is one of our main competitive advantages, as it enables us to meet customer requirements locally, while ensuring global service excellence. We are currently present in 25 countries, across Europe, North America, and Asia. This worldwide presence, backed up by the local expertise of our teams, allows us to be closer to our customer reality and have an unparalleled knowledge of the different markets where they operate.
Another advantage of such international presence is the fact that we can have dedicated expertise hubs striking the perfect balance between innovation, delivery, and market expectations — all resulting in a strong combined full-service multilingual content portfolio.
Lastly, this global footprint has also been key in mitigating the risks of recent social and political instability. With operations in various parts of the world that can easily back up one another, we can ensure that we will continue to serve our customers even in highly disruptive contexts.
The expansion of language work means new and underserved markets are on the table for businesses to consider. Where do you see some of the most exciting opportunities?
Despite the social and economic uncertainty, there are plenty of exciting opportunities out there. New businesses and new business models emerge every day and companies of all sizes continue to strengthen their internationalization plans.
While not new or in any way underserved, the US continue to play a central role in Acolad’s growth strategy. With a dynamic business environment, North American companies are more than ever looking into overseas expansion, mainly in high growth potential regions such as Europe and Asia-Pacific.
At the same time, we will continue to build upon our strong legacy and market leadership in Europe, and plan to gain additional traction in APAC, a region that has been showing a surprisingly fast recovery from Covid-19 hardship.
Geographical focus aside, we are also looking for interesting opportunities to further consolidate our position in core industries such as life sciences, tech/IT, ecommerce, and finance.
Talking about the US specifically, what’s Acolad’s strategy for reaching out to businesses looking for new markets to expand into?
Being the number-one LSP in Europe, we cannot aim less than a similar success story for the US — an endeavor that should be easy to pursue through our remarkable YoY growth and the enviable portfolio of renowned customers.
Despite the name Acolad being recent in the region, the presence of the group in North America dates back a few decades. We have been at the forefront of several inspiring expansion stories, and the legacy of companies like Sajan, Amplexor, and Foreign Exchange remains an important part of Acolad history.
Our role as growth facilitator across borders is particularly important if we consider all the barriers US companies face: language, culture, and most importantly, legal and regulatory systems. In addition to the core translation and localization services, our support can expand to internationalization consulting, market and cultural know-how and regulatory compliance.
Of all the types of content that Acolad helps localize, what are the biggest opportunities out there?
Content localization has undergone a phenomenal acceleration in recent years, and one of the most visible changes is the type of content and the different interfaces that are impacted in internationalization processes.
The development of personalized user experiences has been one of the biggest trends on the rise for the last few years. This means a greater need for marketing translations, also known as transcreation — a meticulous and creative job that requires both language and marketing skills.
Due to this high-demand and specialized skill set requirements, we created a dedicated digital marketing services center, prepared to help clients to scale their marketing operations worldwide, tailoring SEO and SEA tactics to different languages and markets, providing multilingual copywriting services, and much more.
On the other side, with the growing digital focus across most industries, everything related to web content, software, and apps are now requiring even more advanced localization and messaging tailoring — so there are good opportunities to support.
With the global pandemic, we’ve also seen other trends emerging. For example, elearning became a priority for international companies that are looking for a cohesive learning experience for their employees across the globe. This goes hand in hand with the needs of most advanced western economies to hire abroad and relocate employees to different geographies, where an in-depth understanding of local cultural practices and language is needed for a successful employee experience.
Speaking of content types, the life sciences field is said to be a major source of demand. How does that fit into Acolad’s strategy?
Life sciences has historically been one of the strongest areas of Acolad. Our specialized business unit, Acolad Life Sciences, partners with organizations in pharma, medical devices, medtech, and clinical research organizations through every stage of product development — from clinical trials to post-market surveillance. And this is all built on the expertise of our medical translators and our tech-driven language solutions, to ensure we act in compliance with industry standards and regulatory requirements of health authorities worldwide.
We work with the largest healthcare brands in the globe to make sure that important life-impacting information is written and submitted according to the best language standards and in full compliance with the applicable terminology of a sector which is one of the highest regulated industries in the world.
Not only do we have a solid client portfolio in this industry, which has over the years led us to become even more experienced in the segment, but we are also very much connected to how digitalization and technology are impacting the sector too.
Within the life sciences industry, the emphasis is placed on the quality of the service, which should meet high linguistic standards and follow a line of communication which is specific to the industry.
Acolad describes its approach to content localization as “seamless.” Could you expand on that?
Our seamless approach to content localization pins into our value proposition — localization made simple. Overall, it includes three variables that help “uncomplicate” business globalization for most.
The first variable relates to delivering on a pristine customer experience. The management of global content can be complex and time-consuming, so we place great emphasis on simplifying all content related processes. This goes way beyond the translation interface — it’s about providing centralization, standardization, and transparency across all the content workflows.
In fact, one of the words our teams live by is interoperability, placing connectivity and integration front and center for maximum efficiency in delivering across all content sources and interfaces. It can’t be a one size fits all approach, as they all are very different when it comes to degree of automation, desire for personalized service and level of complexity.
A second axis of this “seamless” approach has to do with our local knowledge, sensibility, and expertise on different cultural settings — this goes a long way in producing high-quality content that fits organically in a market and resonates with local audiences.
That is what is fascinating about our industry. We don’t just tailor content to places and languages, we tailor content to fit mindsets, perceptions, and cultural backgrounds. It is often said that learning a language is like opening the doors to a whole new world, and I couldn’t agree more with it — within a language there is an underpinning belief system, a specific way of perceiving the world, and a cultural richness that should enter local messaging for resonance with the target audience.
Finally, the third axis of our “seamless” approach to content localization is anchored on our global footprint and the extension of our service portfolio — we provide a full suite of services and ancillary solutions to create a cohesive strategy that can cover the whole content life cycle, so we can deliver on perfectly harmonized content. Many companies do not wish to refer to several suppliers to cover their globalization strategy, so working as a one-stop shop for all their localization needs is key for us.
You also often talk about how you cover the entire content life cycle. How does that work? What does content life cycle typically look like?
That basically translates into content scalability processes, from beginning to end. It’s our job to empower organizations to effectively oversee and guide global content programs of any size. Acolad starts out at the very beginning — with strategic organization and planning. We work side by side with our customers on the ideation and creation of content, providing advice on the content strategy that fits best with their go-to-market approach and the workflows that better adjust their internal framework.
From there we go on to content distribution and publishing across multiple platforms and channels. We localize, adapt, and transcreate it to fit in local markets; we work on digital marketing strategies to increase visibility and we leverage it to achieve full usability and potential.
As we ensure content is efficiently flowing through all internal and external stakeholders, we also make sure it doesn’t lose quality along the journey. With the help of automatic and manual “checkpoints” we guarantee that whatever the language, the final message is line with the original intent and well adapted to the audience, format, and channel where it’s used.
This allows any company to have a leaner global content management process, with operational and cost efficiency gains, ultimately, driving sustainable growth.
Olivier Marcheteau is the CEO of Acolad. He joined the group in January 2020. His goal is to accompany Acolad’s rapid growth by facilitating the integration of new acquisitions, accelerating technological innovation, and structuring the company’s service offering and client portfolio. Olivier is an experienced international leader with a 15+-year track record of leading companies to succeed and scale up in highly competitive, international, and technology-driven environments.
This profile is supported by Acolad