This client—an electronic instrument company—has many complex products and over 140 pieces of literature including brochures, technical specification sheets, application notes, and general catalogs. This literature was deemed necessary to make sales and to point out the superior performance of the company's products. Selling this superior performance was critical to keeping prices from being eroded by competition from lower cost products with lower performance standards.
With new products and improvements to existing products constantly being introduced, it was a major problem just keeping track of this collateral material, as well as making sure that the Japanese sales force was up to speed with the latest material. The technical translation work was difficult and was tying up the time of the sales engineers. The material from the home office made use of full color and many pictures, which meant that the quality of copies sent to customers by facsimile was poor. (Facsimile is heavily used in Japan and its use improves customer service and cuts sales costs). All of these problems and the frequent changes made production costs high and lead times long.
But the most insidious problem was that the Japanese company was constantly playing catch-up, working to produce literature on existing products. In doing so new products would not get localized literature until they had been in existence for many months, often a year. This approach was not taking advantage of the company’s leadership position, and allowing competitors with inferior products to take their business.
HTM created a system that provided Japanese collateral material within six weeks of the time it was released in the US. Since much of the new product knowledge came from the collateral material the Japanese sales force was more up-to-date and better able to sell the advanced products. This improvement directly translated into increased sales and profits.