On Multilingual Communications and Open Source: An Interview with Jahia’s Emmanuel Garcin

Recently, we had an opportunity to catch up with Emmanuel Garcin, Vice President at Jahia, a Swiss-based vendor of open source solutions for web content and portal management. Jahia is a sponsor of Multilingual Communications as a Business Imperative,” a report released by Gilbane’s Globalization practice in July.
KK: What have been the biggest roadblocks to companies in demonstrating value for multilingual communications initiatives?
EG: We’ve found that web content management systems often need to be customized – in a big way – before they can be integrated with authoring tools, translation management systems, and other enterprise applications. This can result in big-ticket licensing and implementation costs as well as IT departments that become concerned with “overloading computing platforms. Open source technologies can help with these obstacles, but companies are often challenged to adopt and rollout new business models that go hand in hand with the open source context.
KK: What is the “tipping point” that compels companies to move forward with your solution as part of the infrastructure for multilingual communications
EG: The key business driver is a burning need to broadcast both local and global messages for brand management. We also have customers that must address language-based government regulations. Since there are three official languages in Switzerland, Jahia’s Swiss origins naturally focused us on the implementation of adequate business logic to provide flexible language management tools to accommodate this need. Other customers have a need to mix languages when they publish a particular country or regional site. One example is a large international institution that publishes in over a hundred languages who found that Jahia provided the vitamins (enterprise & portal capabilities) and the painkiller (globalization capabilities) needed to implement its content globalization strategy.
KK: What do you do to educate, prepare, and enable customers to be successful? EG: There’s a lot of back and forth. Companies often want to shape new solutions around existing business rules, but they also need to plan intelligently about how they’re going to communicate globally, and determine which processes should continue to evolve. We educate and train organizations on how to get the best results and can help with planning, installation, and configuration. At the end of the day, it’s all about technical details. Companies want to manage content in any language, decide for themselves which languages are mandatory and which are optional, and even publish web sites that mix languages on the same screen. In addition, they want to give their customers the ability to select a new language through a simple, easy-to-use interface.
We spend a lot of time communicating a vision of successful web communication. We talk about how content repositories are the new databases, that all content should be dynamic, and how successful enterprise applications need to be function and feature-rich. We make sure companies are fully aware of industry trends that affect global communication practices and common standards, such as JSR-170/283.
KK: What have been your customers’ best practices in building a global content value chain?
EG: You can’t overlook the significance of having a globalization strategy in the first place! Examples of success that I’m familiar with include a large international agency, a GPS vendor, and a global glass manufacturer. The most successful companies are equally concerned about which solutions for multilingual communications they choose, and how they roll them out; about a single source of content, along with information that is customized or added to meet regional needs. They have a globalization strategy that strikes the right balance between centralized and regional content management.
What is most important, however, is to define how that strategy relates to business needs. A good example of this is a pan-European government agency that we work with. A particular document may be mandatory for certain countries and languages but irrelevant for others. To address this challenge, they prepare source content in a single language, deliver translations up to 25 languages, and publish local language sites with different, additional or custom content for a variety of regions and countries.

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