Curated for content, computing, and digital experience professionals

Author: Karl Kadie (Page 1 of 2)

Using Technology to Improve the Quality of Source and Multilingual Content: An Interview with acrolinx

Sixth in a series of interviews with sponsors of Gilbane’s 2009 study on Multilingual Product Content: Transforming Traditional Practices into Global Content Value Chains.

We spoke with Kent Taylor, VP – Americas for acrolinx, a leader in quality assurance tools for professional information developers, The acrolinx information quality tools are used by thousands of writers in over 25 countries around the world. We talked with Kent about the growing importance of Natural Language Processing (NLP) technologies across the global content value chain (GCVC), as well as acrolinx’s interest in co-sponsoring the research and what he considers the most relevant findings.

Gilbane: How does your company support the value chain for global product support?

Taylor: Our information quality management software provides real-time feedback to authors and editors regarding the quality of their work, enabling quality assurance in terms of spelling, grammar, and conformance to their own style guide and terminology guidelines.  It also provides objective metrics and reports on over 90 aspects of content quality, therefore delivering quality control.  The value of formal information quality management across the information supply chain is reflected in reductions in translation cost and time of 10% to 30%, and reductions in editing time of 65% to 75%.

Gilbane: Why did you choose to sponsor the Gilbane research?

Taylor: To help build awareness of the contributions that Natural Language Processing technologies can bring to the global product content value chain.  Natural Language Processing is no longer just a laboratory curiosity; it is in daily use by many of the world’s most successful global enterprises.

Gilbane: What is the most interesting/compelling/relevant result reported in the study?

Taylor: The fact that "quality at the source" is now being recognized as a critical success factor in the global information supply chain.

For more insights into the link between authoring, quality assurance, and multilingual communications, see the section “Achieving Quality at the Source” that begins on page 28 of the report. You can also learn how acrolinx helped the Cisco Leaning Network with their quality assurance service, which now projects cost savings of 28% for Cisco certification, beginning on page 59 of the study.  Download the study for free.

 

Effective Authoring for Translation: An Interview with LinguaLinx

Fifth  in a series of interviews with sponsors of Gilbane’s 2009 study on Multilingual Product Content: Transforming Traditional Practices into Global Content Value Chains.

We spoke with David Smith, president of LinguaLinx Language Solutions, a full-service translation agency providing multilingual communication solutions in over 150 languages.  David talked with us about the evolving role of the language service provider across the global content value chain (GCVC), their rationale for co-sponsoring the research, and what findings they consider most relevant from the research.

Gilbane: How does your company support the value chain for global product support?

Smith: As a translation agency, we’ve realized that our involvement with global content should be much earlier in the supply chain. In addition to localization, we support clients in reducing costs and increasing efficiencies by providing consulting services that revolve around the content authoring process – from reuse strategies and structured authoring best practices to maximizing the inherent capabilities of content management and workflow systems. Rather than just adapting content into other languages, we assist with its creation so that it is concise, consistent and localization-friendly.

Gilbane: Why did you choose to sponsor the Gilbane research?

Smith: Of the many organizations and associations we belong to, we find that the research and topics of Gilbane studies and conferences alike most closely align with our interest and efforts to diversify our services and become a turn-key outsourced documentation consultancy as opposed to a traditional translation agency.

Gilbane: What is the most interesting/compelling/relevant result reported in the study?

Smith: The findings present two major points that we feel are relevant. First, there is definitely wide-ranging recognition of the benefits derived from the creation of standardized content in a content management system integrated with a localization workflow solution. 

Secondly, there are many, many different ways of approaching the creation, management, and publishing of global content.  There’s often a significant gap between the adoption of global content solutions – such as authoring software, translation management software, workflow linking different technologies – and the successful implementation of these solutions among those responsible for day-to-day content creation and delivery.  A major manufacturer of GPS technology is actually authoring directly in InDesign to a great extent even though it utilizes an industry-leading translation workflow tool – which provides an example of the lengths to which internal processes must be changed to realize truly efficient global content processes.

For more insights into the link between authoring and translation and localization, see the section “Achieving Quality at the Source” that begins on page 28 of the report. You can also learn how LinguaLinx helped New York City Department of Education communicate with 1.8 million families across 1,500 schools in which 43% of students speak a language other than English at home. Download the study for free.

 

Integrated Solutions for the Global Content Value Chain: An Interview with STAR Group

Fourth in a series of interviews with sponsors of Gilbane’s 2009 study on Multilingual Product Content: Transforming Traditional Practices into Global Content Value Chains.

We spoke with Karl Darr, an independent consultant working with STAR Group.  STAR Group is a leader in information management, localization, internationalization, and globalization solutions that address the entire lifecycle of technical communications. Karl talked with us about the importance of addressing the global content value chain (GCVC) in a comprehensive way, STAR Group’s role in delivering such solutions, and what he found compelling about the research.

Gilbane: How does your company support the value chain for global product content? (i.e., what does your company do?)

Darr: STAR Group’s mission has been to enable companies to build a single product that they can sell, ship and support anywhere in the world, along with all of the appropriate technical and end-user support literature in the native tongue for any target market. In every case, we find that the customer’s satisfaction and their perception of a quality purchase are directly related to understanding their new product in their native language. 

Early on, STAR understood that a comprehensive, integrated solution could increase efficiency, while improving data quality and consistency.  So, rather than acquire and integrate third party solutions that were not designed to work together, STAR Group developed a seamlessly integrated, end-to-end solution suite that included tools to accelerate SGML/XML authoring productivity with increased quality, integrated with Terminology Management, workflow, content management, Translation Memory, and publishing – all subject to monitoring and leaving a complete audit trail. 

All of STAR’s technologies can be purchased as stand-alone products. They integrate and interoperate very well with other vendors’ products to provide a complete solution in mixed technology environments.  However, as you might expect, STAR’s complete suite affords uncommon degrees of added efficiency, accuracy, quality and operational cost reductions.

Gilbane: Why did you choose to sponsor the Gilbane research?

Darr: STAR Group co-sponsored this research because the GCVC concept speaks directly to the sweet spot on which STAR has focused for 25 years. STAR Group has provided technologies and services to support every step along the GCVC, from information engineering, creation, and cross-functional synchronization to translation, localization, management, and static and dynamic publication along with dialog management and reporting. 

Gilbane: What, in your opinion, is the most relevant/compelling/interesting result reported in the study?

Darr: The most relevant/compelling/interesting result reported in the study is that 70% of respondents claimed that the process of integrating their GCVC technologies was difficult at best.  What is even more surprising is that, according to the research, only 20% of respondents claimed they had API-level integration between their translation management and CMS tools.

In other words, respondents are suffering from the fact that the people responsible for globalization efforts are dealing with limited vision, scope and fragmented tool sets.  This causes ambiguities, duplications and errors that unnecessarily waste time, energy, resources and corporate profitability – while damaging product and corporate images, and at the same time weakening customer affiliations with the company.

I believe that this situation can only happen when top corporate management is more focused on getting product out the door than they are on optimizing the customer experience, which is critical to increasing profits.  When customer experience is a top priority, these companies will recognize that globalization (or the GCVC) is a manufacturing process in its own right that needs to be prioritized right along with design, engineering, production and customer support. The GCVC is not a ‘bolt-on’ solution because it needs to be intimately involved in all of these processes. As such, GCVC efforts need to start as soon as the product planning process begins, be fully engaged as customer specifications become requirements, and continue in a collaborative manner throughout the process of a project becoming a product.  But, they don’t end there either.  Ongoing multilingual product support is critical for delivering an optimal customer experience, one that results in repeat or recurring business.  Because all GCVC solutions will require ongoing maintenance and support, end-user companies need to ensure that whoever is providing support can cover the full spectrum of GVCV functions. 

Often, our discussions with companies have only begun when organizations understand the depth and breadth of the GCVC. In some cases, they end up relying on us for nearly everything – from their technical writing to translation, workflow, content management and publishing, to spare parts order management with optimized diagnostics delivery and dialog management.  Many of these organizations – some among the most successful global companies – have relegated the notion of a “document” to be an artifact of a by-gone era. 

For insights into technology integration across the GCVC, see the section on “Content Management Integration” that begins on page 32 of the report. You can also learn how STAR Group helped BMW Motorrad implement an end-to-end infrastructure for global technical communication. Download the study for free.

Delivering a Global Customer Experience: An Interview with Jonckers Translation & Engineering

Third in a series of interviews with sponsors of Gilbane’s 2009 study on Multilingual Product Content: Transforming Traditional Practices into Global Content Value Chains.

We spoke with Kelli Kohout, global marketing manager for Jonckers Translation & Engineering.  Jonckers is a global provider of localization, translation, and multilingual testing services, with operations across the U.S., Europe, and Asia. Kelli talked with us about Jonckers’ role in the global content value chain, why they supported the research, and what she found compelling about the results.

Gilbane: How does your company support the value chain for global product content? (i.e., what does your company do?) 

Kohout: Ultimately, Jonckers is helping clients develop content that earns understanding, adoption and loyalty from global customers.

Sometimes clients come to us with original content that will not localize well – in other words, that is not easy to turn into localized versions that achieve the desired response from audiences.  We provide best practices for improving the quality of their source content, asking additional questions regarding their organizations’ goals for their global clients, in order to improve the success of global adoption.  In doing so, we prove Jonckers’ philosophy that resulting translations can even improve on the source (in-country translators with longevity, institutional knowledge, up-to-date cultural knowledge, commitment).  We also help clients save time and money by delivering content that is flexible enough to be used for more than one purpose.

Gilbane: Why did you choose to sponsor the Gilbane research? 

Kohout: Our clients no longer compete solely on the basis of a better product or service – it’s about customer experience.  And in today’s economic environment, our clients are struggling with how to generate revenue by increasing innovation and global reach, which means increasing the amount and accessibility of multilingual content.  Simultaneously, they need to decrease expenses, like the costs associated with providing customer service.

This all points to the increasing need to localize effectively and efficiently.  Jonckers sponsored this study for the common good – the more we share trends, best practices and lessons learned, and the more we know what challenges our clients are facing, the more effective and valued localization services will be.

We also hope this study will raise awareness of some important localization best practices that will make companies more successful.  For instance, we see clients beginning to realize the importance of involving localization planning early in the product development lifecycle, but there’s still room for improvement there.  When localization is an afterthought, the outcome is not as good, there are extra costs, and bigger picture timelines can be adversely affected.

Similarly, more clients are recognizing the value of integrating the localization effort more closely with other functions.  As the study points out, there are more cross-functional champions within organizations who understand the big picture and have the mindshare with executives.  These champions can advocate for the needs of the localization function and help demonstrate its value.

Gilbane: What, in your opinion, is the most relevant/compelling/interesting result reported in the study?

Kohout: We’re seeing an increase in our clients’ global business objectives, but the study confirms that – on the whole – we’re still in the early stages of understanding the global content value chain.  For example, one of the top corporate objectives related to localization is customer satisfaction, which is important, but few are fully utilizing localization to manage their brand globally.  So there’s still room to evolve.  In addition, there’s a focus on generating revenues from emerging markets, but very few have yet tapped the potential from established geographies.

For insights into customer experience as a new basis for competitive advantage, see “Content Utility as the Value Proposition” on page 15 of the report.  You can also learn how Jonckers contributed to Adobe’s effort to build a globalization infrastructure that improves customer satisfaction, raises quality, and saves costs.  Download the study for free.

Unifying the Global Content Value Chain: An Interview with Lasselle Ramsay

Second in a series of interviews with sponsors of Gilbane’s 2009 study on Multilingual Product Content: Transforming Traditional Practices into Global Content Value Chains.

We spoke with Joan Lasselle, President of Lasselle Ramsay. Lasselle Ramsay is a service provider that designs solutions for content and learning that align how users work with the information needed to achieve business results. We talked with Joan about her company, why they supported the research, and what surprised her about the results.

Gilbane: How does your company support the value chain for global product content? (i.e., what does your company do?) 

Lasselle: Lasselle Ramsay is a professional service provider, not a reseller or technology integrator. We focus on helping companies develop new product content. Our work spans the value chain, ranging from engineering (at the point of origin), to technical marketing and technical documentation, to learning organizations and support teams. We also look at the extended value chain, which includes partners, suppliers (like translation service providers), and customers.

We encourage our clients to operate in both the strategic and tactical domains, providing them with a strategic vision, and helping implement an infrastructure that can deliver structured and unstructured multilingual content.

Gilbane: Why did you choose to sponsor the Gilbane research?

Lasselle: One of our goals as a service provider is to add value at each stage across the chain. This research study enables us to discover and share the experience and perspective of industry leaders with Lasselle Ramsay clients. We chose this particular study because of the in-depth research, as well as Gilbane’s domain expertise and independence.

Gilbane: What, in your opinion, is the most relevant/compelling/interesting result reported in the study?

Lasselle: Gilbane’s report sheds light on two key issues that our clients face: the need to address content within the context of larger business trends [referred to as megatrends in the study], and the importance of process improvements. First, companies today are challenged repeatedly to address adverse economic pressures at the same time they respond to the megatrends, such as the evolving basis of competitive advantage. The report makes clear that companies must take measures to address these megatrends in their content practices, or risk being left behind. Even in the face of negative economics and an endless and escalating flood of new data, they cannot sit back and wait. Second, the report illustrates how organizations can benefit from improving cross-functional processes. In many companies, for example, engineering and tech pubs each have their own authoring, content management, translation, and publishing, and neither group shares any processes or tools. What a lost opportunity! Just think of how much they could lower costs and speed time to market if they coordinated processes and collaborated on process improvements.

For insights into the megatrends that are shaping content globalization practices, see “Market Context” on page 9 of the report. You can also read about how Lasselle Ramsay contributed to global content value chain development at Hewlett-Packard. Download the study for free.

Component Content Management and the Global Content Value Chain: An Interview with Suzanne Mescan of Vasont

First in a series of interviews with sponsors of Gilbane’s 2009 study on Multilingual Product Content: Transforming Traditional Practices into Global Content Value Chains.

Recently we had an opportunity to catch up with Suzanne Mescan, Vice President of Marketing for Vasont Systems. Vasont is a leading provider of component content management systems built upon XML standards. Suzanne spoke with us about the global content value chain (GCVC) and important findings from the research.

 Gilbane: How does your company support the value chain for global product content? (i.e., what does your company do?)  
 
Mescan: We are the “manage” phase of the GCVC, providing component content management solutions that include multiple automatic and user-defined content reuse capabilities, project management, built-in workflow, integrated collaborative review, translation management, support for any DTD, and much more.
 
Gilbane: Why did you choose to sponsor the Gilbane research? 
 
Mescan: As part of the GCVC, we felt it was important for us and for those organizations looking to change and enhance their product content strategies to understand the positive trends and direction of the industry from beginning to end. Being a sponsor enabled this research to take place through The Gilbane Group, a group who has the pulse of this space in the industry.
 
Gilbane: What, in your opinion, is the most relevant/compelling/interesting result reported in the study?
 
Mescan: The most interesting result in the report was that terminology management ranked highest in the approach to standardization of content creation and that this terminology management is still a manual process based on a spreadsheet for half of the respondents. Yet “paper-based style guidelines and glossaries did little to encourage real adoption.” Being a key to global customer experience, brand management, and quality and consistency to 80% of the respondents, it is surprising that terminology management, as well as other content creation standardization practices, is still such a manual process.
 
For more about current terminology management practices, see “Achieving Quality at the Source” on page 28 of the Gilbane report. You can also read about how Vasont customer Mercury Marine is deploying content management as part of its global content value chain. Download the study for free.  

Second Life Gets an International Life: An Interview with Danica Brinton of Linden Lab

At the recent Worldware Conference in Santa Clara, California, I was delighted to learn about how a high-tech company was achieving great success in internationalizing their software through crowdsourcing. The story gets more interesting. This was not back-room software plumbing but an innovative application, none other than Second Life, a virtual world and a social-networking MMORG (Massive Multi-Player Online Role-Playing Game).  Launched by Linden Lab in 2003, Second Life enables its users, called residents, to interoperate with a virtual world  through software called a Second Life Viewer. Residents can socialize, participate in group activities, and create and trade virtual property.  According to Google, there are over 9 million residents currently on Second Life.

I attended the presentation, “Brave New (Virtual) World,” and had an opportunity to catch up with Danica Brinton, Director of International Strategies and Localization at Linden Lab.  Here’s what she had to say.

Kadie:  When did Linden Lab realize the importance of internationalization?

Brinton: Around the middle of 2008, Linden Lab realized some discrepancies between U.S. and international business.  While 60% of the residents and twice the new registrations were from outside the U.S., revenue and retention numbers, while still healthy, indicated a gap in the localized  user experience.

Kadie: What happened when you entered the scene?

Brinton: I joined the company in June.  When I checked things out, I was stunned.  I discovered that we were paying $40,000 per quarter to LSPs.  What were we getting?  The viewer was translated only partially into 3 languages, and was nearly incomprehensible.  The website was translated partially into 2 key languages.  In both cases there were a lot of localization bugs.  On the flip side, hundreds of wiki-based Help pages were translated quite well into 8 languages, which was pretty darn good.  An interesting trend…

Kadie: So what did you do?

Brinton: Although we were a small company, when I showed my management the opportunity they were very supportive…but with limited funding.  So we had to get creative.  We enlisted the help of power users to translate the application and website.  To ensure quality control, we set up a repeatable localization framework, with translation, editing, testing, and end user review.  We established a tier system of resident translators, drawing on our super-users.   We built and acquired localization tools to manage translation memories and the localization process, and installed a locale-based ROI calculator to manage costs.  Finally, we hired 3 in-house linguists.  So you can see, it was a hybrid of crowdsourcing from the Second Life community on the one hand, and our in-house linguists and contracted translation agencies on the other.

Kadie: How did you divide up the work?

Brinton:  Who did what depended on the language tier.  Let’s look at the viewer, for example.  For tier-1 languages, we developed the glossary, did the translation, and collaborated with the Second Life community on the editing, QA, and some of the glossary.  For tier-2 languages, the Second Life community did nearly everything.

Kadie: What kind of results did you achieve?

Brinton: Less than a year later, I can truthfully say that we achieved some dramatic results.  We now translate the viewer and the website into 10 languages, and expect to reach 16 in May.  The active residents from outside the U.S. grew to 64% of the user base, and new registrations are now more than 2.5 times the U.S.  Even better, international revenues have surpassed U.S. domestic revenues.  Between the Viewer, the website, and the knowledge base, we now regularly localize over 150,000 words per language.

Kadie: What’s next for localization at Linden Lab?

Brinton: Strangely enough, past is prologue.  This new localization program is helping to increase customer satisfaction and bolster an affinity group.  You can even say that community-driven translation is building brand advocacy.  Some of the elite power users are evolving into business partners.  Localization is not only supporting our business, it’s helping to grow it.

The Content Globalization practice at the Gilbane Group closely follows and  blogs on the role of multilingual communication in social networking (see interview with Plaxo).

Ready for Open Source Translation?

In July of this year, WeLocalize launched the GlobalSight Open Source Initiative, offering the industry’s first open source version of enterprise translation management software. WeLocalize plans to release open source GlobalSight in January, 2009, and is committed to supporting LISA standards Translation Memory eXchange (TMX) and Segmentation Rules eXchange 2.0 (SRX). GlobalSight also recently announced a partnership with ClayTablet Technologies to enable connectivity with content management systems.
Is this just another marketing initiative searching for a way to differentiate common technology? Early indications are that there’s a real movement afoot. Over 200 people from 147 companies have joined this open source community, and the steering committee contains many high-tech leaders, including Cisco, EMC, IBM, Autodesk, NetApp, and Sun Microsystems. Sun, for example, has a long history of embracing open standards and open source. Sun has staked its future repeatedly on open standards and open sources, ranging from the early days of UNIX and Java to today’s OpenSolaris, OpenOffice, Java, and, now, Open Translation centering on XLIFF standards.
To be sure, this is an impressive list of companies. But the basis of these companies’ interest is not entirely clear, and the adoption history for open source solutions across the value chain of content technologies has been fragmented at best. Open source content management software is still in the early stages of acceptance and open source authoring software has yet to take significant market share.
In the end, global corporations and organizations determine value and standards. So we put the question to you: WOULD YOU CONSIDER ADOPTING OPEN SOURCE TRANSLATION, AND WHY? Please comment on this blog or send me email with your ideas. Let’s continue this conversation…

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