Is bigger better?

Is bigger better when choosing a localization partner?

Whether you’re an ambitious technology firm making your first move into a new international market, or a global giant reviewing your strategy, buyers of translation and localization services often turn to the largest providers first.

This is common in many sectors, not just localization. What’s more, it’s sometimes understandable — the biggest providers are going to be the best, right?

Well, maybe. Perhaps if you’re buying paperclips or envelopes. Or generic services. Or washroom supplies.

But if you’re buying complex services, where flexibility, trust, and good old fashioned customer service matters? Not so much.

We find that our clients, regardless of their size or profile, value flexibility and service over a 2% cost-saving every time. They often come to us from the largest language service providers (LSPs), complaining of being forced into rigid processes that don’t suit them and only being able to speak to faceless ‘account handlers’ who have no real appreciation of the nuances of their localization strategy.

Iota also work with several early and mid-stage technology companies. In many cases these firms will have received VC funding and be committed to expanding internationally in the short to medium term. Working successfully with companies at this stage requires a unique combination of unwavering reliability, localization expertise, and the flexibility to respond quickly to the demands of a rapidly-scaling organization.

Very few of these requirements will be successfully met by a monolithic LSP who assigns their client ‘bronze status’ when they spend less than $1 million a year on localization.

I came across a snippet on a large LSP’s website a while ago that I thought highlighted this approach in a single sentence. Look at the screenshot below and see if you can spot it:

Can you see it yet? Let’s zoom in:

That’s right — he recommends solutions based primarily on what it suits his company to provide. Not necessarily the best solution to the problem.

Surely that’s the wrong way around. As a client, wouldn’t you be looking for a localization partner to provide a solution that solves your problem, not one that simply suits the provider?

Maybe it’s just us. Maybe we’re the odd ones, crafting bespoke solutions to meet the unique challenges our clients face. Developing bespoke tools for individual clients that reduce costs and time-to-market. Hand-picking linguist resources that best match the objectives of the project.

I could go on.

But I’ll leave you with this. Whether you’re just starting out on the road to localization, or managing an established globalization program, ask yourself a few simple questions:

  1. Does my localization provider consider me to be an important client?
  2. Do I adapt to their needs, or do they adapt to mine?
  3. Could there be a better way of doing this?

Answer them honestly, paying particular attention to the last question. If you’re in any doubt, get in touch and we’ll be pleased to explore the options with you.


Iota would probably be defined as a ‘small’ localization provider in terms of employee numbers, global offices, and the usual metrics used to define these things. Despite this, we boast a place in Common Sense Advisory’s Top 100 LSP rankings and have worked for over a decade with some of the largest, most high profile, and respected technology companies in the world. If you want to speak to any of them to see if they regret not working with a ‘large’ LSP, let us know and we’ll put you in touch.