As we close our first year of the Gilbane Globalization blog, we looked back at our initial goals to help readers meet the challenges of multilingual business communications. Three conversations stood out as emerging themes that we felt were critical then — and now:
- Understanding the impact of globalization on customer experience and brand management
- Viewing the global content lifecycle as a strategic business practice
- Closing the gap between content and translation management processes
Communicating the importance of each drove our 2007 blog entries, our conversations with corporate users and technology vendors, our globalization-specific case studies and whitepapers, and the design of the Globalization Track at Gilbane Boston 2007. As we did so, our favorite mantra continued to bubble up as the ultimate success criteria: A holistic focus on the People, Processes, and Technology that create, translate, manage, distribute, and consume global content.
Our conversation wish list for 2008 is very “PPT”-driven. In fact, we can’t think of any theme that does not require a collaboration of people, an interoperability between processes, and an integration of technologies:
- The power of single-sourcing to redefine “multi-channel” as more than device-driven outputs.
- The impact that human + machine translation combinations can have on the availability and quality of multilingual content.
- The value of terminology management in combating the proliferation of insulting translations.
- The potential of multilingual social networking.
And last but not least, the availability of “the wisdom of the crowds,” or from our take, global access to shared best practices that enable organizations to learn from each other in attaining quality multilingual communications. We’ll aim to make sure that goal is ongoing.
The topic of the globalization track keynote was billed as “delivering the global customer experience.” Earlier in the conference (in the Wednesday keynote, I believe), a speaker eloquently offered an alternative for the now-almost-meaningless term “customer experience.” Customer experience can be good, bad, or indifferent, as noted elsewhere in our blogs. This speaker distilled the business requirement as “enabling valuable interactions.” This phrase resonated with us, and we used it to introduce the globalization keynote session. How are companies, today, enabling valuable interactions with customers in any language, through any channel?
We set the panel up to answer this question from the various perspectives that should be represented at the table in the conference room when planning global content strategies: the business people responsible for delivering content to customers, the translation professionals who make sure that content in the customer’s language is of the highest possible quality, the content management professionals who facilitate the content lifecycle, and the analysts and consultants who can give stakeholders access to industry knowledge and best practices.
The goal of the session was to give our audience guidance on framing the globalization discussion within their organizations. What matters to which constituents? What’s the lens through which they look at the problem and the opportunity? Participants were Brian Shorey, director of engineering at Cisco Systems; Donna Parrish, publisher of Multilingual; Dean Berg, currently with Sajan, formerly with Stellent, now Oracle; and my colleague Leonor Ciarlone.
The panel offered insights too numerous to report, but the key topics included small successes with “unfunded but mandated programs,” the need for translation professionals to begin considering themselves project managers, and the growing requirement for collaboration across the global content lifecycle, which Leonor identified as a potential hot topic at next year’s Gilbane Boston conference. Personally, the keynote brought together the key themes that defined content globalization for me in 2007, especially the changing nature of the business case for investment in people, process and technologies that support global content — and therefore enable valuable customer interactions.
The other personal observation worth sharing, I think, is that content globalization was, for the first time, an integral part of the industry dialog that takes place at Gilbane conferences. All of the sessions in the track were well attended. Multi-lingual business communication was discussed throughout the entire conference program, not just in the globalization track. Eyes no longer glazed over at the mention of translation process management. Improvements in the quality of machine translation were even mentioned in the keynote on the future of content management.
What’s fueling the content globalization discussions within your organizations? How can we bring your hot topics to the forefront at Gilbane San Franciso 2008? Email us with ideas for sessions in the globalization track. If you’re game to tell your own story, consider submitting a speaker proposal. The deadline for submission is January 15.
As we reported last month, CM Pros is looking for a new Executive Director. There is now a full job description available on the CM Pros site.
EMC Corporation (NYSE: EMC) and Document Sciences Corporation (NASDAQ: DOCX) announced that they have signed a definitive agreement whereby EMC will acquire publicly-held Document Sciences Corporation in a cash transaction valued at approximately $85,000,000. Document Sciences Corporation is a provider of document output management (DOM) software that facilitates personalized, multi-channel communications to customers, partners and suppliers. The acquisition adds to EMC’s position in the transactional content management (TCM) marketplace. The board of directors of Document Sciences Corporation approved the transaction with EMC based, in part, upon the recommendation of a special committee of the Document Sciences board of directors that was established to evaluate strategic alternatives. Under the terms of the agreement, Document Sciences Corporation stockholders will receive $14.75 in cash for each share of Document Sciences Corporation common stock. The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions, including Document Sciences’ stockholder and regulatory approvals, and is expected to be completed in the first quarter of calendar year 2008. This transaction is not expected to have a material impact on EMC financial results in 2008. Upon completion of the acquisition, EMC intends to operate Document Sciences Corporation as a business unit within the EMC Content Management and Archiving division. http://www.docscience.com, http://www.emc.com
A: When its a huddle.
Q: When is a huddle an environment for multilingual communication?
A: When a huddlee can dynamically change the user interface to work in her native language.
Q: Why is this interesting?
A: Because we’ve yet to see a concentrated focus on globalization requirements in the social computing and collaboration space. In fact, we’ve been wondering where is the “L” is in Web 2.0?
Q: What if you don’t speak German?
A: The company that built and manages the huddle concept (Ninian Solutions Ltd) provides a French user interface as well and according to our interview with the company, Spanish, Chinese, and Japanese will follow.
Q: So how will content created by huddlers get translated?
A: Machine translation may very well prove its use within a Web 2.0 environment. Stay tuned.
The Globalization Track’s “Understanding the Globalization Standards Landscape” session provided a trio of experts to content management professionals wading through the industry’s “alphabet soup” of authoring, translation, and integration standards. Moderator Kaija Poysti deftly led the audience on a road trip through a multi-dimensional standards landscape with more than a few controversial roadblocks.
The mission was to understand how a standards-driven strategy provides an impact on customer experience, provide expert guidance on which ones really matter, and take-away advice on what to ask when evaluating solutions. Panelists Don DePalma from Common Sense Advisory (CSA), Andrew Draheim from Dig-IT!, and Serge Gladkoff from GALA delivered on the mission and then some, with commentary on which are practical, which are simply theoretical, and most importantly, which have a positive impact when adopted. Highlights:
- On a “standards reality check”: “You have no choice on some; Some are about good hygiene, but little used; and others are not ready for prime time in their current form. However, the code and content ecosystems definitely need an injection of globalization DNA.” Don DePalma, CSA.
- On standards benefits: “Adoption can decrease the internal cost of doing business, decrease typical business risks, facilitate business interactions, increase the value of services to clients, save on R&D and business development, and save on internal personnel training. However, there are too many private standards and too few generally-adopted public standards. Standards are notoriously difficult to develop and upon completion, they compete; be warned though, the “winning” standards not always the best ones.” Serge Gladkoff, GALA Standards Committee Chair.
- On synergies between content and translation management: “When these technologies work together, it streamlines processes, reduces duplication and errors, and makes publishing easier. Which standards will be around tomorrow? Take a look at Translation Memory eXchange, Segmentation Rules eXchange, XML Localisation Interchange File Format (XLIFF), and TermBase eXchange.” Andrew Draheim, Dig-IT!.
Many thanks to our panel for guiding our audience through the globalization standards landscape with candor and real-world advice.
The Globalization Track’s “Quality at the Source: Creating Global Customer Experience” provided advice from those in the trenches striving to do just that: bake in quality from the “get-go.” From Gilbane’s perspective, delivering customer experience is one thing; delivering global customer experience is quite another.
Our presenters understood this perspective from a “been there, doing that” frame of mind. Mary and I would like to thank Dee Stribling, Project Manager at SAS, Lori Kegel, Manager Technical Communications at Boston Scientific, and Richard Sikes, Senior Consultant & Advisor at The Localization Institute for demonstrating that global customer experience is not yet another industry phrase designed to bolster new marketing campaigns. Putting the global in customer experience is a necessity, critical for those with multinational revenue profiles, and presents tangible challenges for organizations to view the content lifecycle from a totally different perspective.
When perspective morphs to reality, organizations often unearth champions with a range of specialties that define the pillars for “going global.” Consider the following quotes from our presenters that epitomize some of the success factors for globalization in organizations that clearly get it:
- On terminology management: “Words are the building blocks of an organization’s conceptual framework. The quality of terminology directly relates to an organization’s presence in the global community – words are an essential corporate asset!” Dee Stribling, SAS.
- On source inconsistencies: “The whip cracks loudest at the farthest end. Follow the creative process back along the whip to minimize fluctuations at the source.” Richard Sikes, Localization Institute.
- On globalization issues within an M&A environment: “The overall end goal is the same for both business units. There are nuances specific to each business unit based on their internal goals and objectives (portfolios are different and cultures are different). These differences are largely due to where in the translation, memory management, and content management processes a business unit is functioning; one can be at the infancy stage and one can be much further in the growth within these processes.” Lori Kegel, Boston Scientific.
Many thanks to our panel for sending the message that a satisfying customer experience happens only when communication is clear, consistent, error-free, and in the customer’s native language.
I received a number of emails after my blog on Iron Mountain’s Friendly Advice Machine, including some from non-John Cleese fans who still thought it was a fun experience. I even know of some colleagues who have visited the site multiple times
Still, I thought it would be interesting to get the real statistics on visits and impact from the company themselves. Iron Mountain’s Karen McPhillips, VP Marketing, answered my call for an interview. Here are some interesting excerpts:
- Aimed at IT managers, a marketing research team developed the campaign by creating a literal “buyer persona” resulting from over 100 interviews with existing and target prospects. This was not a “closed door brainstorming” session. The team identified and aggregated a long list of common process and technology IT-based pain points to drive targeted messaging with a healthy dose of humor.
- By end-October, the first month of release, the site received 19,000 hits and exceeded viewing expectations by 20%. Audience segmentation revealed 60% U.S.-based views and 16% Eastern Europe-based views.
- The previous Cleese-based campaign featured the comedian as Dr. Harold Twain Weck, Director of the Institute for Backup Trauma. By the end of its run, the site had received more than one million hits from IT professionals alone.
- The company markets the campaign globally, but it is available only in English. Given the difficulties of true context-driven translations, especially for “Cleese humor,” this seems prudent. McPhillips reports no complaints on the decision from the company’s major global markets, including France and Germany.
The company expects an 18-24 month shelf-life for the campaign.
Quark Inc. and Alfresco Software, Inc. announced a new partnership to develop integrated enterprise-class publishing and content management solutions for professional and corporate publishers. Quark has designed technologies such as Quark Publishing System 7 (QPS 7) to streamline the editorial and creative workflow processes. Alfresco, the open source alternative for enterprise content management (ECM), couples open source with the stability of an enterprise-class platform. This new partnership will enable Quark and Alfresco to provide end-to-end content management and publishing solutions, enabling integration with an organization’s existing business system. http://www.quark.com, http://www.alfresco.com