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.