1. One of the challenges that PayPal faces now that they have managed to overcome the polylingual obstacle is finding the best way to put this functionality in the hands of the business, so that they do not have to go through IT each time. How do you balance this need for responsiveness and flexibility versus IT’s need to keep some degree of control to make sure everything keeps working with everything else? Provide some recommendations to managers who find themselves in this situation. 2. PayPal opted to deviate from industry standards and build their own custom technology that would better suit their needs. When is it a good idea for companies to take this alternative? What issues factor into that decision? Provide a discussion and some examples. 3. Although the new system has been quite successful, Pay-Pal has chosen not to license this technology to others, forgoing a potentially important revenue stream given the lack of good solutions to this problem. Why do you think PayPal chose not to sell this technology? Do you really think this can be made into a strategic advantage over their competitors? How easy would it be for their competitors to imitate this accomplishment? When you're a global company that keeps expanding into new countries, how do you keep all of your consumer sites updated in the local language—without spending a ton of time and money? More on CIO.com
CIO.com's E-Business Section PayPal realized five years ago that it had to solve this problem or that it would hinder the e-commerce payment company's ability to grow, says Matthew Mengerink, the companyâ¬"s vice president of core technologies whose IT responsibilities include PayPal's architecture and payment system infrastructure. Today, PayPal has re-architected the software code for its site to allow simultaneous refreshes for 15 locales ranging from France to Poland. In the development community, they call this unusual achievement "polylingual simultaneous shipping" or "SimShip." "This is a big problem that's been around a long time," says Ron Rogowski, a principal analyst for Forrester Research who specializes in globalization issues. "For the most part, companies really do a poor job localizing content," he says, noting that technology solutions in this area aren't plentiful, and companies also must conquer organizational battles over who controls what content. "Companies would like to manage their translations better," Rogowski says, "to realize internal and external cost savings. But the real benefit is the potential for revenue growth, the ability to roll into markets quickly." That ability today translates into a large portion of PayPal's bottom line: For PayPal, international business now represents 44 percent of revenues, which were $563 million for the fourth quarter of 2007. The company's re-architected code plays a key role in PayPal handling about $1,806 in payment volume every second of the day, as of late 2007. Speaking French Isn't EnoughPayPal, now part of online auction giant eBay, quite simply had to go global to support customer desire, Mengerink says. People outside of the United States were demanding that eBay let them use PayPal (the primary purchase mechanism on eBay) and demanding that PayPal be presented to them as seamlessly as it had been presented in English, he says. The company had to do more than present a stilted translation of English into, say, French or German, he adds. "Imagine you're going into a bank and you want to speak French," Mengerink says. "The teller can speak French. But that's not enough. You want to feel you're in France. You want to see the French flag on the wall. Especially in the banking industry, it was very important to express something that people trust, in such a way that it is natural and native for them," he says. Traditionally, companies solve the localization issue by working with third-party translation companies, whose staffers convert an English-based site into multiple...
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