Curated for content, computing, and digital experience professionals

Month: October 2007 (Page 2 of 3)

Quality and the Global Content Lifecycle

Got quality?

Join Mary, Shannon Zimmerman from Sajan, and myself on Wednesday October 24th for a discussion of quality in the Global Information Age, in which mere information availability no longer suffices. Today’s customer expectations demand relevant information that is culturally acceptable, appealing, and most important, understood. Delivering contextual, multilingual information – communications that make sense in the customer’s language of choice – is fundamental.

Any company with a multinational revenue profile knows that fusing quality and translation is a significant part of the formula for success in a global economy. In and of itself however, the act of translation provides no “certificate of excellence” or “seal of approval” for its quality quotient. So, the obvious question is: What is quality translation and how will organizations know when they achieve it? What is a quality quotient?
Join the discussion as we offer our take on improving, maintaining, and measuring the quality quotient of information products for the Global Information Age. Register here.

Eating Your Own Dog Food

I sat in on a demonstration for an enterprise search engine this week. There were several things that really impressed me. First it was not canned; although the demonstrators were clearly following a script, and members of the audience members were asking questions throughout the demonstration. The audience was a mix of consultants and prospective customers; they had a lot of questions, asked to be shown features, functions and “what ifs.” The person demonstrating was very soon off script and doing nothing more than answering questions and demonstrating completely ad hoc searches and with excellent results.

The second impressive aspect was that the entire corpus of content was company information for the vendor. It was not everything they have on their intranet for this public view but enough to see that this is a company that actually uses its own technology throughout the enterprise for all of its divisions. Content from Lotus Notes, SharePoint, Documentum, an employee gallery, emails and files were all there and presented in a clear format for the audience to see and understand.

Finally, what impressed me was the extent to which their content reflected how their search engine was being used as a platform for doing business and working collaboratively, internally. This caused me to reflect back to a presentation for an analyst group earlier in this year by another search company. That company was rolling out a number of features in the business intelligence (BI) space. So, I asked them a couple of questions, “How are you using these tools to manage your own enterprise, doing business intelligence? How are you exploiting internal content to understand the dynamics of a rapidly growing company?” There was a long silence but the answer was along the lines of, we aren’t but we should probably consider it and it takes time to think through a strategy for deploying a good BI solution.

In my experience, if everyone in a company with an enterprise search technology product does not find a use for and evolve with its own offerings, then there is a missed opportunity and a flawed business strategy. This missed opportunity is the terrific feedback the developers will get from that internal use and the evangelism that can come from enthusiastic employees. The flawed business strategy is the huge disconnect that develops between customers and suppliers when supplier employees just never have a customer experience themselves. Search and BI are two functions that every company can benefit from using; why on earth wouldn’t every search vendor be aggressively seeking opportunities to apply its own tools.

So, buyers be aware – look for evidence that the purveyors of search actually have their own experiences to talk about and demonstrate. That can tell you a whole lot about how you will be treated as a customer because they are one, too.

Become a Technology Acquisition Star

We’re moderating a session entitled Successful Processes for Selecting a Content Management System: How to Become an Expert in Technology Acquisition at DocTrain East 2007, Thursday, Oct 18, 3:30 pm to 5:00 pm.

The session begins with a discussion of why technology acquisition is not about tools, but about assembling capabilities that lead to competitive advantage for your organization. We walk through two scenarios that draw on our recent experience helping users acquire XML publishing and web content management technologies. The fun begins when we turn to a panel of experts who will share what they’ve learned about making a business case, distilling requirements, crafting great RFIs and RFPs, developing the short list of suppliers, and scoping a successful proof-of-concept. We’ll also look at acquiring software as a service and how the acquisition process is different from acquiring licensed software solutions.

The goal of the sesson is show attendees how to develop the skills to lead a successful technology acquisition process. If you’re interested in the topic but can’t make it to the conference in Boston this week, send us email and ask for our presentation materials. We also welcome comments from readers who’d like us to address a specific question during the session.

Webinar: Do You Know Your Quality Quotient?

Multilingual business communication keeps the wheels of global commerce spinning. High quality content drives us forward, while poorly translated content can bring business to a halt. What’s the “quality quotient” of your multilingual content? How can you measure it? More importantly, how can you use it to bring continuous improvement to your global content life cycle?
Learn more about quality strategies for multilingual content in an upcoming webinar featuring Gilbane’s Leonor Ciarlone and Shannon Zimmerman, founder and president, Sajan, Inc. In this interactive online panel discussion, Leonor and Shannon present the multilingual quality quotient principle and show you how to incorporate it into an enterprise global content lifecycle strategy.
Register Today
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
11:00 AM – 12:15 PM EST
Attendees and registrants will receive an advance copy of the new Gilbane Group white paper, Quality In, Quality Out: The Role of Technology in the Global Content Lifecycle.

Collaboration and Expertise Bring Focus to Enterprise Search

The topic of the month seems to be “social search;” I confess to being a willing participant in this new semantic framing of a rash of innovative new tools for enterprise search products. I would, however, defer to the professional intent of some great new features by stressing that this is really a next step in bringing collaboration closer to where expert knowledge workers do their work. As I view enterprises with a heavy research component, 10 – 30% of the average professional’s time is spent in a search environment. In other words, we all spend a lot of our day just looking for “stuff.” We also spend a significant amount of time in meetings, exchanging emails, and making presentations. More and more of us contribute to collaboration spaces where we work together on various types of document production.

Putting together the work habits and needs of a time-poor and information-rich community of knowledge workers in a post-processing environment where they can “mash up,” tag and commentate their search discoveries is a natural evolution of search technology. It is remarkable to see how search companies that are serious about the enterprise market (search within and for the enterprise) are rapidly turning out enhancements for their audiences, now that they are convinced that “Enterprise 2.0” has a boatload of early adopters in the wings. Search should always be about connecting experts and their content. Add collaboration and the ability to enrich search results by searchers for the benefit of their colleagues and you have a model for, soon-to-be, heavily adopted products.

That pretty much sums up how we should be thinking about “social search” in the enterprise. You can hear more of my views in a KMWorld Webinar, Using Social Search to Drive Innovation through Collaboration next Tuesday in a presentation sponsored by Vivisimo, one of the leaders in this area.

The week had plenty of virtual ink devoted this topic so you might want to check out these two articles with more commentary. The first was in eWeek, by Clint Boulton, Vivisimo Marries Search, Social Networking. The second shows that Google is on the bandwagon, as well, Google Enterprise Search gets social, a blog entry at C|Net News.com by Rafe Needleman.

Submitting Proposal Requests to Vendors

While WCM needs-analysis and generation of a master requirements document (MRD) usually prove to be quite in-depth undertakings for most clients, the RFP submitted to vendors should aim to be as simple and concise as possible. Here’s why.

When vendors receive a very long, nuanced description of a functional requirement, it becomes easier for them to craft a response that technically satisfies the requirement and simultaneously to withhold other relevant and more meaningful detail. On the other hand, when vendors receive a brief description of a functional requirement or category, along with specific instructions to provide as much detail as possible (at risk of not receiving credit if enough detail is not provided), they often feel compelled to write as much they can. The abundance of information found in such responses usually allows the customer to discern just how well a vendor’s products or solutions match line items in the MRD.

Recommendation to Gilbane clients: After detailed needs analysis and creation of an MRD, pare the language for each functional criterion in the RFP to a somewhat general level. For example, rather than inquiring specifically about content locking models (along with the other 20-30 minute components within library services) ask instead for a complete description of what the vendor’s solution provides in the library services category. It is essential to state that more detail in the response is better than less, and that if a vendor omits relevant information, they may not receive full marks for that category. Following this suggestion, you will be surprised at how much more insight you gain from vendors RFP responses.

Trust is a Pact between a Vendor and Its Customer

There is nothing more disappointing to a consultant than to learn that a project in which you gave significant guidance to a client is experiencing a project meltdown…except maybe having everything get off to a positive start only to falter due to problems with the technologies being implemented. I have been burned several times lately and that surprises me because, as a former software vendor myself, I have pretty deep skepticism when it comes to overblown claims and can usually spot the companies I wouldn’t want my clients to trust. This was not one of them.

It is hard to deal with situations that you didn’t consider likely. A big one is a broken promise, even if it is implicit, not explicit. For a vendor to deliver a solid CMS product with a buggy search interface to toggle between keyword and metadata search is one thing. My client spent months getting it to work so that users could seek by keyword or on explicit metadata fields. They rolled it out and it was “OK,” if not great. But after much discussion with the vendor about the bugs, my client was pressured into adopting an upgrade to “solve the problem.” Unfortunately, the upgrade was an experience from hell, but worse was the fact that the old search controls no longer worked and there was no way to search metadata any longer. Having predicated the procurement on being able to search metadata… well, you get the picture.

What happened to the old motto of “first do no harm?” In my world that means you never release an “upgrade” that subtracts functionality. In the words of my client, “we consider this a major regression.” I consider it a serious breach of trust between them and the supplier but also between me and my client. Why would they ever trust my guidance about the solidness of a vendor again? Guess I have my work cut out for me to find some recourse for my client.

On a much more positive note, I will be offering commentary on the subject of trust and technology solutions when I participate in my first Gilbane Webinar with Oracle’s Brian Dirking, Wednesday, October 10th. The title is The Trust Factor: Secure Enterprise Search for High-Value Content and it will include some key considerations when considering your path to a successful search implementation. I’m still optimistic and enthusiastic that you can implement an excellent search solution for your organization if you really chose your strategy, your technology and your business partners carefully and I’m teaming with Oracle to reinforce that message.

It is free, so click on the title to sign up, even if you are in the beginning stages of your quest for a search product. I hope you will join us for the discussion.

Translations.com and Adams Globalization Announce Merger

Translations.com, a leading provider of technology-enabled language solutions, announced that it has completed a merger with Adams Globalization, a localization service provider with over 25 years’ experience. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Austin-based Adams Globalization will become a division of Translations.com and will continue to be led by current President Bernd Cafulli, a veteran of the localization industry. Cafulli will join the senior management team of the combined companies and report to Translations.com Vice President, Hans Fenstermacher. Fenstermacher joined Translations.com as the result of a merger in May 2006. Allan Adams, Founder and Chairman of Adams Globalization, will be retiring from the business. Adams’s localization services team will remain in place and continue to serve their clients going forward.

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