Pay attention to local requirements

I was reading the Evening Standard last night on the tube home. It’s a filthy habit, but it  avoids having to make eye-contact with other Londoners. For the uninitiated, social interaction was seemingly banned on public transport in London several decades ago.

While I freely admit that the quality of journalism in the Evening Standard is precisely what you’d expect from a free newspaper, one article (with coherent sentences and everything) about how 3G iPads may not roam around the EU due to a legal technicality started me thinking about the extent to which local details can affect the successful launch of international products.

According to the article, EU law requires visitors to a country to be sent a text message detailing the prevailing mobile tariffs. Slight snag, 3G iPads can’t receive text messages, so operators cannot legally allow them to connect to the mobile network. That’s an awfully expensive paperweight you now have there, Mr International iPad Owner.

Product managers tend to catch the macro differences, such as the need for native language and cultural convention in the user interface and documentation. It’s the small yet crucial details that can be easily missed.

Now generally speaking, we product managers tend to catch the macro differences, such as the need for native language and cultural convention in the user interface and documentation. It’s the small yet crucial details that can be easily missed.

However, we also need to accept that we’re not really experts on any locality except those of which we’ve had direct experience. So for everywhere else, why not factor into your business case and launch planning the costs of obtaining local advice to catch these kinds of snag? The more important the launch, the bigger the risk of derailment, so factor in a corresponding investment in gaining local knowledge. It will pay its dividends many times over.

So if you want to succeed in global markets with a ‘one size fits all’ approach, you may want to reconsider that strategy.  Pay as much attention, if not more, to getting the local details right. It would be a crying shame to mastermind your international roll-out, only to trip up at the final hurdle because of a little-known local law.

References #

  1. Lack of texting spells bad news for holidaying iPad owners” – Evening Standard, 15 June 2010

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