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Month: August 2008 (Page 2 of 3)

Gilbane Group Releases New Report on Multilingual Communications

For Immediate Release

Pioneering research combines content and localization/translation management market perspectives to present unique insight into current state of content globalization

Cambridge MA, August 20. Gilbane Group, Inc., the analyst and consulting firm focused on content technologies and their application to high-value business solutions, today announced the publication of its latest research report, Multilingual Communications as a Business Imperative: Why Companies Need to Optimize the Global Content Value Chain.

The study is backed by in-depth qualitative research on how global businesses are creating, managing, and publishing multilingual content. Given that many companies expect growth from multinational revenues, 92% of respondents are concerned about the risks of not improving content globalization processes. The research identifies key challenges, including a gap between strategic business goals and investments in multilingual communications, difficulties in balancing centralized and regional operations, and the lack of integration and interoperability across authoring, content management, localization/translation management, and publishing components. Moreover, the study reveals how industry leaders are addressing these challenges, and provides Gilbane’s recommendations on best practices.

“Global businesses recognize the need to address localization and translation in tandem with content creation and management, but they are often stymied, even overwhelmed, by how to achieve this,” commented Leonor Ciarlone, Senior Analyst, Gilbane Group, and study director for Multilingual Communications. “Our research points to the emergence of what we define as the Global Content Value Chain, a strategy for meeting these challenges. Organizations embracing this strategy are leading the development of much-needed best practices, as we describe in the report.”

Gilbane’s study methodology included in-depth interviews with 40 content and localization/translation management practitioners in multinational organizations. The result is a unified perspective on the full spectrum of multilingual content processes, previously viewed as isolated activities. “Gilbane’s study will educate both language professionals as well as content management professionals,” said Donna Parrish, editor, MultiLingual magazine. “The report should be required reading for any company needing to integrate, automate, and streamline domain-specific processes that are often self-contained today.”

Multilingual Communications as a Business Imperative: Why Companies Need to Optimize the Global Content Value Chain is available as a free download from the Gilbane Group website. The report is also available from study sponsors Jahia; Jonckers; RedDot, the Open Text Web Solutions Group; Sajan, Inc.; SDL Tridion; Sitecore; and Systran.

About Gilbane Group, Inc.
Gilbane Group, Inc., is an analyst and consulting firm that has been writing and consulting about the strategic use of content and information technologies since 1987. Clients include organizations of all sizes from a wide variety of industries and governments. Gilbane works with the entire community of stakeholders including investors, enterprise buyers of IT, technology suppliers, and other consultant and analyst firms. The firm has organized over 50 educational conferences in North America and Europe. Its widely read newsletter, reports, white papers, case studies and analyst blogs are available at

For More Information
Leonor Ciarlone, Senior Analyst

Welcome Fred Dalrymple

Fred is our newest contributor, and has already posted his first blog entry. Fred pokes at the challenging tension in search between intent and context, especially over time as context (or intent) changes. Lynda has also posted about intent, and the subject also came up in discussions of search quality around Udi Manber’s talk at our conference in this past June.

Fred brings the welcome perspective of a serious software developer, and will be blogging on a few different topics, so he may be posting here on on one of our other blogs. Welcome Fred!

Researching Search with Intent Firmly in Control

I have hit on intent before and our latest member of the Gilbane blog team, Fred Dalrymple has joined the theme with his entry this week. Welcome Fred! You have given me an opening for an already planned topic, how to conduct research for enterprise search tools, those that go beyond the search box. Actually, this guidance is appropriate for the selection of any technology applications.

Getting intent solidly defined is important for so many reasons, many of them relating to solving a business problem and the expected outcomes. Knowing what these are will give you the framework for isolating likely candidates, efficiently. A second critical reason for having strong intent is to stave off project scope creep. As a former vendor, and now consultant, I see this play out repeatedly as product research ensues. Weak backbones in selection team members or flimsiness of their business case leaves openings for vendors to promote additional features, which often distracts from what is really needed.

So, armed with the right skeleton, a strong framework, a core scaffolding you are ready to approach your research systematically. Four paths are open to a study team; I recommend using all of them, in overlapping passes. Discovery about products, product performance in real-world scenarios, vendor business relationships with their clients, and the user community you will be joining are all targets that need to be exploited.

Discovering a user community on-line that might have expressed a potential problem with a vendor or product, should drive you back to do more research to discover potential limitations or why a user might be having a problem that they brought on through inappropriate implementation. Iteration in research for technology requires perseverance and patience. A comment on each path to research might be helpful:

  • Online research – This requires creativity and the most persistence to verify and validate what you find. I am amazed at how superficially many people read any content. We may be taught that good business writing requires a clear statement in the first paragraph of what follows with a solid summary at the end, but most content does not follow “good” business writing practices. You need to read between the lines, think about what is not being said and ask yourself why, follow every link on the sites of vendors under serious consideration. Look at vendor news notes and press releases to see how much activity is going on with product advances or new installations, and read descriptions of customer implementations to see how closely those deployments match your business need. Finally, search those customer names on the Internet in conjunction with the product name. This may retrieve public content that sheds more light on user experiences.
  • Professional groups – Professional organizations in which you participate are fertile ground for asking about what others in similar situations to yours are using. As you get closer to a final choice, go back to others you know personally or professionally to get answers to the direct question, “have you had any problems with this product or vendor?” and “what is the benefit of this product for you?”
  • Societies and academic institutions – These organizations publish content that may have a cost associated. When you consider thousands your organization spends on a selection process (in people time), contracting, licensing, implementation and deployment, it is wise to have a budget of several hundred dollars for reports that give detailed product evaluations. Get recommendations of librarians and peers as to publications’ authoritativeness.
  • User and analyst blogs and industry publications – The same guidance holds for industry publications as for societies and academic publishers but you will also want to pursue blogs of users and analysts. Users are a great source of discovering tidbits about products and vendors but continue beyond what you discover to see if the comments are isolated or follow a pattern.

This is a longer commentary than I intended but the core of my intent needed flesh, so there it is.

On Crowdsourcing and Social Media: An Interview with Plaxo’s Regina Bustamante

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Regina Bustamante, Director of Globalization with Plaxo, to discuss the company’s content globalization strategy and how Plaxo users are integral to its success. Plaxo offers a suite of online solutions for social networking. Top services are the address book and calendar applications in addition to Pulse, a sharing and networking tool.

KK: How has the growth of global web access affected the adoption and development of your social networking solutions?
RB: Plaxo’s user base continues to grow steadily since we reached the 15 million user mark back in October 2006. As a result, our product release cycles have accelerated from two or three months to just one week. At the same time, Plaxo’s non-English base of users and users with international connections is growing rapidly. Shorter product cycles coupled with user demand for multilingual products made it necessary for us to explore new ways to release products to major markets in local languages.

KK: What model did Plaxo use for its initial localization/translation efforts?
RB: We localized our address book and calendar tools into French, German, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish and Simplified Chinese over a year ago, using LSPs for the initial translations. We then provided early release versions to specific “power users” in each international market who reviewed everything, including the UI and suitability to local cultures.

KK: So Plaxo users provided quality assurance in this effort?
RB: Yes, users were even willing to test and report on features such as sorting, name and address formatting, etc. When Pulse was released with localizations into the same languages, non-English users continued to send suggestions, comments, and to act as informal quality control agents. The involvement of the user community improved the quality of local versions of our software.

KK: The Dutch version, released in July, increased the role of longtime power users, correct?
RB: Absolutely. The Netherlands has quickly become one of the largest markets for Pulse and we expanded the involvement of the user community, relying on a group of long-time Plaxo members for the development of the Dutch glossary.

KK: What’s in store for the future of Plaxo’s localization/translation efforts?
RB: For future product releases, we will move to a crowdsourcing model based on a translation portal we are developing that will enable any Plaxo community user to submit and comment on translations. To ensure high levels of quality, this portal includes separate roles for a language moderator and project manager.

KK: What will be the key to success for this model?
RB: Plaxo’s position as a provider of no-charge consumer software helps us to engage users for localization/translation assistance. The key is to only ask users to help with things that directly benefit them. Our crowdsourcing model is not intended to entirely replace LSPs. For example, we have no plans to use crowdsourcing to translate the corporate website or documents such as the Terms of Service or Privacy Policy.

Citigroup is Bullish on the Kindle

We’ve all wondered about how many Kindle units have sold. One Wall Street analyst is willing to make an estimate:

And Kindle could sell 380,000 units in 2008, more than double what a Citigroup Global Markets research analyst had expected, he wrote yesterday in a research report.
“In its first year, that’s exactly how many iPods were sold,” analyst Mark Mahaney wrote. “Turns out the Kindle is becoming the iPod of the book world.”

Beyond Intent

Intent, hidden within a search click, lies at the intersection of Search and Business, as in “let’s do some business”. That search click has extra-ordinary value because of the intent to buy — that’s why we’re searching, right?

Perhaps, or maybe we’re just browsing, or surfing, and we’re not in the mood for advertisements. It could be more militant than that; perhaps we’re still trying to research our choices and would see a sales pitch as tainting the honesty of the information. At least that’s what the founders of Google originally believed.

Although the model of the web was a set of stateless pages, and a Google search box certainly fits that appearance, people’s intent is not stateless. It ebbs and flows, from entertaining looking around, to researching choices and comparing possibilities, through sourcing a chosen product (now we’re talking about a qualified buyer), to selecting fulfillment options, and possibly all the way to figuring out how to return a product that we’re dissatisfied with. That last one is probably not the best time to present an ad claiming how wonderful that product is.

This is a “long running transaction,” a series of steps that fit together and flow towards (and past) a purchasing decision, but with back-currents and eddies. And it really is a transaction in the database sense where a failure during one step can cause the entire sequence to be discarded as if it never happened. Though if you believe Sergey and Larry, it will be worse than never happening, you may lose trust in your guide through that transaction.

Has the intent changed? Depends on what that means. On one hand, what has changed across those steps is the mode of the intent. If the intent was to purchase a product, then the research, comparison, purchase, and fulfillment were clearly pieces of that intent, though they call for different approaches: organic search for the research, product focused responses for the purchase, perhaps service-oriented for the fulfillment, and some combination for the comparison.

But what about that “I need to return this product because I hate it” step? The intent has clearly changed, but it is more necessary than ever to connect this new intent to the previous steps. If not, perhaps the search engine will continue to suggest that product to a disgruntled customer with very counter-productive results.

So, what is the unifying concept? Is it intent, organized by modes? Not if what is being unified is a complete user’s story about their purchasing experience.

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