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SDL Buys Idiom: Not an “I”, now an “A”

Integration versus Acquisition, that is. Certainly the latter does not preclude the former. And we expect that it will most certainly not.

SDL and Idiom are making a strategic industry announcement with this move, with both obvious and subtle impacts on both the translation and content management industries. Most obvious is the influence it can have on the impact of integrating workflows, a year-long discussion we’ve having with the Gilbane community. Bringing more visibility to the Global Content Lifecycle and hopefully, more conversation on adding value throughout is a positive event. Ramifications on the state of content management interoperability, LSP neutrality, and market uptake for Idiom’s deep investment in the SaaS approach will be more subtle impacts, which will be important for our community to understand.

We’ll keep you posted as always, but note today’s facts:

  • This is not SDL’s first foray into merging the translation and content management technologies, demonstrated by May’s Tridion acquisition and the more recent investment in Trisoft, strengthening an already “deep” partnership albeit with no public announcement. Tridion caught the attention of marketing content management professionals; Trisoft should have caught the attention of techcomm content management professionals. Idiom will capture the attention of both.
  • As we discussed in Gilbane Boston 2007, organizations that understand the impact of multilingual communications on efficiency, brand, and revenue are moving globalization strategies upstream to “bake in” quality at source content creation. One of my favorite quotes during our Quality at the Source session was from Richard Sikes from the Localization Institute, who reminded our audience that “the whip cracks loudest at the farthest end.”
  • The acquisition announcement will trigger more conversation on topics included in our 2008 Globalization Wish List, in particular the idea of “closing the gap.”

See our post on the main Gilbane analyst blog. And stay tuned.

The Impact of Globalization: Translators in Demand

In 2005, the White House Conference on Aging discussed the barriers to communication for a growing population of “Limited English Proficient (LEP)” adults. Not surprisingly, the creation of, funding for, and distribution of translated information was a predominant theme. To its credit, the WHCOA site now provides up to date information in eight languages (MT-powered.) Despite some progress in the U.S. over the past decade in areas such as prescription drug labels, quality is still a major issue, particularly in the medical and legal industries.
The U.S. is certainly not the only nation facing language barriers that have economic, health, and legal ramifications. Our interview with Karl Lonnroth demonstrated the enormity of work in progress within the European Union to deliver multilingualism as a fundamental right. In 2006, China discussed a lack of translators as a “major obstacle to China’s economic development.” In late 2007, the Daily News Analysis India ran an article that bemoans the lack of translators as well as infrastructure as major barriers to the availability of Indian literature.
Certainly an over-simplification, but…

Solution? More translation services. Problem? Lack of translators.

Demand exists, tracked monthly by TranslatorsCafe.com (also an excellent site for knowledge sharing and information on job opportunities.) Here’s a good start for our “Resources” contribution, with links to opportunities for certification, under and post-graduate degrees, grants, and research endeavors. Expecting the inevitable “you are missing this site, link, etc.,” we invite comments and additions for the list. We’ll republish updates as appropriate.

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Collaboration Yields Knowledge: Two Opportunities to Share Experiences

Globalization is a strategy rather than a project. Global customer experience is a mindset, not a deliverable. In turn, supporting these objectives requires complimentary strategic initiatives driven by subject matter experts that utilize a range of rapidly evolving processes and technologies in innovative ways.
Based on our community discussions, organizations that focus on combining the practices of localization design, content management, and translation management achieve results. And that focus in no way equates to a series of siloed application implementations.
We believe there is no better way to demonstrate this truth than by encouraging collaboration and promoting success stories. Agree? Here’s two opportunities to do so, in the form of a Call for Papers for synergistic events:


Gilbane San Francisco: June 17 – 19, 2008
Localization World Berlin: June 9-11, 2008

Collaboration yields knowledge. Sharing experiences spurs innovation for all organizations. Here’s your chance to contribute — our experience shows that it’s well worth the effort.

When is a Wiki a Whiteboard?

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.
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Quality at the Source: Gilbane Boston Session Summary

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.

Gilbane Boston 2007: Globalization Topics Line-up

Mary, Kaija and I are thrilled to have an extraordinary group of presenters for the Globalization Track at Gilbane Boston.
Although they will not discuss how to properly design and implement an international online dating service, our audience will learn a lot about creating, managing, and delivering a truly global customer experience. It is never too late for a trip into Boston, especially if these topics are relevant for you.
GCM-1: Quality at the Source: Creating Global Customer Experience
Tuesday November 27, 1:00-2:30pm
GCM-2: Integrating Content and Translation Processes: Managing Global Customer Experience
Tuesday November 27, 3:00-4:30pm
GCM-3: Understanding the Globalization Standards Landscape
Wednesday November 28, 2:00-3:30 pm
GCM-4: Global Content Management Track Keynote: Making Quality Everyone’s Responsibility – Delivering Global Customer Experience
Thursday November 29, 8:30-10:00 am

The Global Content Lifecycle: Increasing the Quality Quotient

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How are you handling the inevitable increase in the volume of source and translated content in your organization?
Scaling translation, maintaining quality. It’s difficult, but achieveable. The recording from our webinar with Sajan is here. Food for thought.

There’s Something Brewing in the “I” Market


Globalisation and the spread of information technology allow the creation of unexpected and disruptive business models. Many executives feel the heat is on and that they must innovate faster just to stand still. “Revving up,” from the Economist, October 2007.


That about says it all. Innovate faster just to stand still. One of the reasons for our research back in February was that we believe globalization innovation from a technology perspective will include the integration of content and translation management. SDL’s acquisition of Tridion in May sparked a bevy of commentary in the press and analyst blogs, including our own. What would “Under One Roof” mean for the industry’s approach to globalization demands and challenges? Our answer? Various approaches, but ones focused on bringing these disparate software markets much closer together. You know, the “i” market.
Since then, there’s a lot more brewing — and it all has to do with one of our favorites topics. In fact, we’re hoping that recent trends enable us to expand our definitions of integration levels in a big way. Hint: more 360-degree business process management than fundamental workflow integration. Given the events to date in the translation and localization market, we’re optimistic that it will. Consider the list:

  • Clay Tablet Technologies, with its “seamless integration solution” is coming on strong since a major launch in 2005. Since September, the company has announced integrations with translation management solutions and service providers such as across systems and SDL, adding to a roster that includes Language Weaver, TRANSLATED, and content management provider DocZone.
  • Idiom has teamed with both EMC and Astoria in recent months to promote the benefits of “an integrated, state-of-the-art content management and globalization management solution.” The company announced an integration with XyEnterprise’s Contenta back in April.
  • Lionbridge has multiple content management providers in the “CMS Provider” section of the company’s Globalization Alliances description.
  • Sajan has content management integration on its agenda, making impressive progress with the release of GCMS 4.0 and more specifically, its X-Content Integration framework in March and June respectively.
  • SDL has taken the Tridion acquisition a step further, describing the October content and translation management implementation at Atlas Copco as an “off-the-shelf integrated solution.”

These trends are signs of what is sorely needed for organizations to strategically — and successfully — more toward global expansion. However, a favorite question of ours in in this brave new world of integration is: “Who’s the buyer?” In reality, it is unfortunate that in many cases, content and translation management professionals do not collaborate and even worse, may not know that technology integration is possible.
If you are a buyer that’s interested in this trend, come to Gilbane Boston 2007 to find out what’s next for the “i” word and more importantly, what kind of technology approach is right for you. We think the entire Globalization track is pretty impressive, but for integration fans, “GCM-2: Integrating Content and Translation Processes: Managing Global Customer Experience” stands out.