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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Changing Face of Localization (Professional Translation)

I was at a party recently where somebody asked a Language Service Provider, what they did in their professional work. It was amazing to witness how completely mystified the questioner was by the response which included the word “localization” several times. It took several minutes of conversation before the person (who admittedly was a little slow) gathered that it involved translation for business purposes in some way. To my view “localization” is not a great word, to get the general-world-out-there, engaged and interested in, or even just understand what you do. Looking at the localization entry in Wikipedia explains the confusion felt by the average guy on the street; the word has different meanings in translation, psychology, medicine, physics, mathematics and more recently even in location based services like FourSquare and Facebook Places.

Does it really matter? (I think it does, especially in interactions with people outside the translation industry, = the real world?) I have always felt that it is important to be able to communicate what you do, quickly and easily in casual social settings to enhance your professional life. Good casual social interaction can often lead to useful professional references and interactions, but only if people actually understand what you do. It matters even more when you as an industry are trying to increase your visibility to the world out there. I think the word localization may have made sense when the focus was only “software and documentation localization” (SDL), but this view of what we do is increasingly being questioned in terms of overall value to generating and facilitating international business.(BTW the word “transcreation”, to my mind is even worse in terms of obfuscation and classic HUYA-ness.)

Ironically, I had a brief Twitter exchange with Ultan O’Broin (aka @localization) discussing this shift.

(Unfortunately the service I used to show the conversation is now defunct. And since Twitter makes it so hard to get old conversations it is pretty hard to retrieve those snippets.) 


We were basically discussing data interchange standards in the translation industry (TMX, XLIFF) and Ultan said something that I thought was very insightful about the old SDL view of the business:”people don't get "structure". Obsessed with formatting, still”. This helps to explain the relatively low status of localization professionals in most global enterprises. The view is that, the localizers handle the translation production of carefully formatted material that goes into product packaging, and some pro-corporate, self-congratulating, mostly irrelevant content on the corporate web site. Thus, it is not surprising that localization professionals have kind of a secretarial status in most internationally focused business groups. They provide basic services and assistance to international business initiatives. As Ultan said, they have an administrative assistant view rather than a system administrator view on information flows related to international business initiatives.

As I have stated in previous posts the world is changing, and to stay relevant we need to also change what we do, how we do it and why we do it. At the executive level of global enterprises, it is increasingly becoming clear that customer decision making processes have changed, largely due to open and free access to more information. This information is increasingly created outside the global enterprise and is not easily controlled by stakeholders within the global enterprise. In many industries global customer conversations are MORE influential in driving customer behavior (and corporate sales) than corporate content. To be relevant, we need a new mindset that looks at the flow from information creation (internal and external) to information consumption and has an honest and real focus on the final customer. Real conversations with real users matter more than corporate content and some are beginning to realize this. Value needs to be defined by how useful a customer finds the information, not by how many translation and formatting errors there are in a user manual that few are likely to read. Ultan is at the leading edge of this new focus in an area called User Experience (UX) and thus we should all be listening to what he and others like him have to say.

Here is a more detailed overview on these broad changes from my viewpoint at a recent Localization ;-) Technology Roundtable seminar in Palo Alto:


An interesting aside: I was informed by an SDL Plc marketing representative that I would not be welcome at their recent SDL Innovate  event in Palo Alto because of “my position at Asia Online”, however they did admit that, “we will look forward to seeing you at future industry events.” To be honest, I did apply as Kirti Vashee, CEO of Maya Acoustics (which I truly am involved with). But unfortunately the expert marketing department sleuths there tracked me down as the author of this blog post. (Hmm, could it have been my name?)  Or perhaps because I think that associating SDL with Innovation is oxymoronic, or perhaps because I represent competition that is feared and formidable. Apparently Renato and people from TermWiki were also denied admission into the compound.

Interestingly the keynotes brought forth new supporting data for many of the themes I have been writing about in the last year (I think so anyway): Openness, Customer Focus & Collaboration, Standards and Information Flow. Maybe I am biased, but do you really see these as themes that resonate and receive meaningful commitment at SDL?

Some highlights (gathered from Twitter, thank you @scottabel) from Toby Bell of the Gartner Group:
  • People are becoming brands
  • More stuff is uploaded to YouTube in 60 days than all television networks combined have created in 60 years (Yes indeed, UGC is for real)
  • Everything is interactive. If you're not polling or offering live interactive contact with customers, you're missing out on the engagement opportunity
  • Manufacturers, retailers now allow customers to create documentation and interestingly this content is often better than what their own employees create
  • You must tune the experience (with the "right" content and information about your products and services) to the users goals
  • Corporate leadership still views web content management as a publishing function. It's not. It's really about customer experience.
Some highlights from Marcia Metz, EMC on Information Liquidity:
  • Information is an asset that can be turned into revenue
  • We can't keep pace with the growth of the volume of information and speed and efficiency are becoming more critical to business success
  • We are working to provide information as a service. Content creators and consumers should be able to collaborate for best results
  • Information liquidity requires a comprehensive platform that is standards-based, organized and manages the full information life cycle from co-creation to consumption
There was also another interesting Twitter based discussion that focused on the dubious value of TMS systems. While I do understand that translation projects have been messy historically, and that some level of automation is required to make things more efficient, I have many doubts about the "solution" that many have chosen. Most of my doubts are about relative value not absolute value. Why are there so many TMS systems? Why do they all have such small installed bases? Why does every LSP and Corporate Localization department think that their translation project management process is so unique that it can only be properly automated by creating a new TMS system?  Could this not be better accomplished by using more mainstream (= installed base of hundreds or thousands) collaboration and database tools? Jaap van der Meer of TAUS stated at the now defunct LISA's final standards summit event: GMS/TMS will disappear over time, in favor of plug-ins to other systems. Adam Blau surprised me at our technology roundtable meeting in Palo Alto when he said that milengo does not use or believe in TMS systems. The reason: Too much investment for too little return and a reduction in overall flexibility. You can see him say it in his own words here. He also provides some interesting observations on best-of-breed tools that they use, and the issues related to developing a specific technology agnostic strategy in his talk.

Also, the future of translation I think will see more deployments of collaborative communities or crowdsourcing. The Monterey Institute of International Studies (MIIS), announced recently that they’re deploying Lingotek’s hosted Collaborative Translation Platform. As we head into more 10 million and 100 million+ word translation initiatives, this kind of collaboration facilitating infrastructure becomes more and more necessary. It is interesting to see that few if any universities ever adopted translation memory and TMS tools into their curriculum in the past. Tools that enable and facilitate open collaboration and easily integrate into mainstream content management software infrastructure become ever more important. The people that lead the charge in these new initiatives are often not from the localization community and they seem to understand that data must flow freely for the tools to be useful.


We are at a point in time where it can be recognized that professional translation efforts focused on customer conversations are actually impacting overall international business success. Quite possibly we are at a point where what we do (enable and facilitate global customer conversations), is seen as driving customer satisfaction and customer loyalty and thus international revenues across the globe.

And if there is somebody out there who could educate me about personalization, I would love to learn more, as I think that personalization and mobile will also grow in importance as drivers for building international business. The coming shift to mobile is hopefully obvious to everybody, there are already 4X as many mobile (cell phone) users in the world as there are online users and we should expect that a lot of information consumption will shift to these devices as they get more powerful. This does not mean that PCs go away, but rather, that the conversation becomes more mobile and free form.

So if the future is about more free flowing conversations with customers and much more dynamic internal and external content, we should be thinking about new ways to describe what we do. I think our new description will likely include terms like professional translation, collaboration, global customer engagement and effective use of translation technology. While traditional localization work is unlikely to disappear, I think the best is yet to come and some of us will be lucky enough to be involved with world changing initiatives.


For a cool response on "what do you do?" see what that other localization expert had to say: "We are building technology that facilitates serendipity." --Dennis Crowley, Foursquare co-founder, as quoted by the Los Angeles Times. For me personally, I like the sound of: "We develop technology that enables global enterprises to talk to their customers across the world and we also help to address and alleviate information poverty in South East Asia". 

27 comments:

  1. Thank you for a thoughtful exploration of several issues here, Kirtee. I agree that there are communication issues in the localization world, so many I have observed that we could spend a week or more discussing them. But what's the point of trying to discuss such things with people who reflexively spew mixed letter/number abominations like "l10n"? Despite my technical background, I turn off instantly when I see such tripe. I suspect my reaction is minor compared to the average person in business or society at large.

    The tribalism you describe in tool use is also a significant hindrance to productivity. While you never will and never should get everyone to submit and use the One Tool (a good thing, as distributed development is likely more responsive to user needs), it is appalling that there is so little real commitment to the effective exchange of basic data. This was driven home in a workshop by Angelika Zerfass I attended last year, in which she provided a detailed look at the "TMX" generated by three leading CAT tools and showed how to minimize data losses when exchanging information. It was shocking to see how little uniformity there was in the application of this so-called standard.

    If you look at the emerging systems in the mobile environments the situation does not look better. There is, of course, a certain technical class which has always found lousy or absent interfaces to be a good thing, as these provide consulting income and security for the witch doctors performing the rituals of conversion. But I think we have better things to do with our lives than play hocus pocus games.

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  2. Thanks for the shout-out. Interesting parallels between L10n and UX worlds are everywhere.

    - Whereas "usability" was about "look and feel", about "UI" and "layout" -- an area dominated by narrowly defined professional titles such as designers, artists, and engineers -- "user experience" (UX) is a more user-centric, contextual endeavour, crossing many boundaries to deliver a complete user experience based on the goals of the community, such as convenience, intuition, and integration. Architects, ethnographers, behavioral research scientists, cognitive psychologists, product designers are added the usability professional roles. Fundamentally, the research and execution is performed based on watching, talking to, and studying the user community itself. Sounds familiar?

    - My own research shows a need for administrative assistant-type content tools in the hands of interested, motivated professionals that provide for contextual, well-structured, easily searched for and retrieved, and graceful transformation to whatever content required. Sys admin-type tools are not required even by geeks! All the evidence is that if you provide an easy-to-do user experience for content creators and customizers, then they will use the tool and create even more content that reflects their own needs while adding to the sum of knowledge in the community.

    That said, such shifts are not for everybody and if you're happy translating marketing brochures in Word doc format with embedded graphics, then as long as the check clears, continue.

    - Ultan

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  3. Here is a little bit of a Twitter chat between Chase Tingley and me about the demise of TMS systems that might be interesting to some readers

    http://bettween.com/kvashee/ctatwork/Mar-01-2011/Mar-09-2011/desc

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  4. Thanks for this post, Kirti. Very thought-provoking. I really enjoyed reading it.

    Posted by Tom Roland

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  5. "We are the architects of our own demise"

    What a great and loaded post. Working in translation and localization for more than a decade now I have never been able to bridge the gap between 'providing translated content' to 'doing business over there' for our clients.

    Simply providing well translated content for our clients to present in a relatively new market always seemed a bit like letting a child play with a knife. They could probably slice the apple, but more likely than not, they are going to lop off a finger instead. Most of the time the best translations still resulted in extremely poor 'doing business over there' because they never had the rest of the puzzle pieces in place. Unfortunately, only in hindsight do I see that now and your post knicked the scab off for me to realize it. Thanks for that.

    Don't even get me started on CAT tools and SDL....

    I look forward to discussing this with you.

    Thanks,
    Russell

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  6. Russell

    I think part of the problem is that very few localization people within global enterprises are actually the DRIVERS of international market initiatives. They are usually corporate support people whose role is seen as necessary but secondary.

    We all need to be talking to the real customer, both inside the global enterprise, and the customer in the actual target market to become more relevant.

    The real customer for the professional translation industry is the person held accountable for international market success and the quality of international market customer relations and support. I have almost never seen these people at any of the localization conferences that I have been to. We keep talking to internal versions of ourselves.

    Also, we should hopefully dump a lot of the crap proprietary technology we have in place and start afresh with a new view. One that enables us to tackle the emerging international business related problems and ever increasing data flows, where we can really add value.

    These things can only happen when we really do get executive sponsorship in global enterprises. I think this day is coming and as I said the best is yet to come.

    Thank you for your comments

    Kirti

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  7. Great post Kirti! Interestingly, our vision is very similar to what we are striving for at the Centre for Next Generation Localisation (www.cngl.ie), with localisation/translation being driven by the interaction with the customer and being used to facilitate and understand the interactions between customers.

    We see personalisation as an integral part of that and are actively exploring the synergies between localisation and personalisation. To catch up with recent developments, there is a YouTube channel capturing CNGL demonstrators presented at a public showcase hosted by Microsoft Dublin in November 2010:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/nextgenlocalisation

    As Prof Vinny Wade has often pointed out about the relationship between localsiation and personalisation - personalisation is adapting to the individual as the locale. Language is just one of many aspects of our interaction with users that we must tune adaptively if we are to really engage with them. Others are: background/domain knowledge; task context; social context; domain/language preferences (for the growing population multi-lingual customers); presentation/navigation preferences; device constraints and interaction modalities (different combinations of speech, text, video).

    thanks,
    Dave

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  8. Hi Kirti,

    "It is interesting to see that few if any universities ever adopted translation memory and TMS tools into their curriculum in the past."

    This is not really an accurate reflection on translator training curricula. Many translator training programmes in Europe (especially in Ireland and the UK, but also in Germany, Spain, Belgium, etc.) include "translation technology" as a core component in the curriculum. "Translation technology" usually means TMs, their use, their pros/cons etc. but it can also include content about machine translation and localisation.

    Regards,
    Sharon

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  9. I have just discovered your blog. Very interesting points and also very deep... I think I need to read it again before I say my word ;)
    I will add your blog to my blogroll, so I can see your updates :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hello, Kirti,

    Thank you for posting this interesting article.

    Point 1: TMS will become obsolete:
    You wrote,
    "While I do understand that translation projects have been messy historically, and that some level of automation is required to make things more efficient, I have many doubts about the "solution" that many have chosen. Most of my doubts are about relative value not absolute value. Why are there so many TMS systems? Why do they all have such small installed bases? Why does every LSP and Corporate Localization department think that their translation project management process is so unique that it can only be properly automated by creating a new TMS system? Could this not be better accomplished by using more mainstream (= installed base of hundreds or thousands) collaboration and database tools? Jaap van der Meer of TAUS stated at the now defunct LISA's final standards summit event: GMS/TMS will disappear over time, in favor of plug-ins to other systems. Adam Blau surprised me at our technology roundtable meeting in Palo Alto when he said that milengo does not use or believe in TMS systems. The reason: Too much investment for too little return and a reduction in overall flexibility."

    Ayfer: One point is that the entire development of tools is a top-down process lead by the tools vendors. No one asks if the options make sense and if the tool is user-friendly. Therefore, I encourage the users to push and provide feedback.
    I have also observed that quite a few tools have been released in the past couple of weeks, but if they are more or less providing the same features, what's the point.
    Example: I took a look at CrowdSight, and I as a translator/PM would not want to use it. I really do not understand why in this day and age one would develop such a tool that throws us back by 10 years.

    Kirti: "Also, the future of translation I think will see more deployments of collaborative communities or crowdsourcing."

    Ayfer: I would want that we would drill down in this statement, because there are so many different formats, document types, and content for different audiences (IT software, financial software, life science software, project mgmt software, business intelligence software; textbooks, articles, books, proprietary documentation such as guidelines, standard operating procedures from different verticals, law text etc.) that we cannot generalize as such, unless you really restrict your statement to the localization industry (translation of software/web portal plus documentation and collateral and training material).

    Best,
    Ayfer
    Posted by Ayfer Bektas

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  11. Kirti, I have to thank you for this statement,
    "As I have stated in previous posts the world is changing, and to stay relevant we need to also change what we do, how we do it and why we do it."

    because I have been trying to say the same.

    I do not know if you have the seen the discussion in the Localization Professionals group where I stated that we needed to take our industry to the next level, that we had stagnated and that we were fragmented:

    http://alturl.com/cqpd4

    And I have presented a plan/model - a very high-level suggestion, and I am hoping that my peers will present their suggestions so that we can come up with a plan. -- I have to admit, I have to summarize my model, because it has been spread over many posts in the discussion mentioned. :-) A To Do for the weekend. :-)

    And I think the first thing we should do is come up with a glossary of terms from our industry so that we know what we are talking about and so that everyone is on the same page regarding terms such as "localization". -- Some peers might not agree on the definitions, but at least we know to what we are referring. :-)

    Localization is a subgroup of "translation".

    Thanks.

    Best,
    Ayfer
    Posted by Ayfer Bektas

    ReplyDelete
  12. Christopher HugheyMarch 18, 2011 at 1:37 PM

    I think many TMS systems are moving towards extinction, but not because they are irrelevant; rather, it's because they are too rigid and are failing to adapt to clients' needs. There are many issues here: the workflow creation and management, the rigidity of the functionalities and the fact that few TMS-producers seem to solicit (never mind act on) input from real translators, to name but a few.

    I used to see this all the time in my former life as a manager and consultant in the supply chain management (SCM) software world: people take a top-down approach, spend vast sums of moneys, then are shocked when the actual, real-world users resist using the system in the (supposedly) optimal, most automated way. Why? Because the people designing, selling, buying and implementing never bothered to see how the theory would work in practice. Same issue here: TMS-producers create systems and workflows that in *theory* and *on paper* are great and will show amazing ROI, but *in practice* are so inflexible and user-unfriendly that the ROI simply never materializes, because the ROI is choked to death in work-arounds, exceptions, break-downs, functionality limitations, drawn-out implementations, costly support, etc.

    Bottom line: TMS products that adapt to their clients needs v forcing clients to adapt to their rigidity, short-comings and limited functionalities, do indeed face extinction. And rightly so! But companies that can make and market more flexible systems designed with real-world users (PMs, translators, etc.) in mind will thrive, as long as they realize that they must in turn integrate into the bigger picture of 'global content readiness' v just the narrow, provincial and traditional tranche we call 'localization'.

    That last comment brings me to the point made above about TMS going away in favor of plug-ins from other products. I think this and the issue I discuss above are linked: they wouldn't be losing ground to such solutions if they weren't so rigid!

    Ultimately, I think the key to success in this industry in the long term will depend on us vendors realizing that we can't operate in the cozy isolation in which we used to operate. We can't be black-box anymore: we have to be a fully integrated, seamless part of the entire content creation and globalization supply chain. That's why I look back to my days in SCM: in successful SCM, you simply can't afford to allow any part of a supply chain be so disconnected and 'un-integrated' with the rest!

    Posted by Christopher Hughey

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  13. well put together blog Kirti. I agree that the technology is still very young, modern man is still young, so the future of translation technology is really as endless as our imagination and resources will allow. It is just a matter of time before star trek type translation is available. Science fiction is quite often right!
    Posted by Elliot Nedas

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  14. Chris,

    I agree with you. I have the same feeling, but I thought I was the only one. :-)

    Exactly, most of it is top-down which I also mentioned elsewhere ( http://alturl.com/cqpd4 ). Your post confirms that is time to take a top-down and bottom-up approach addressing the translation and localization issues (balanced view and approach). So stay tuned, I will create a new LinkedIn group with a different discussion format. Just working on it...

    The strange thing is that none of the TMS vendors has so far commented on this discussion. :-)

    Best,
    Ayfer

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  15. Christopher HugheyMarch 29, 2011 at 11:35 AM

    Hi Ayfer,

    Yes, they are oddly muted on this subject. I suspect the truth is a bit painful. ;-)

    And I think we are far from the only ones; on the contrary, I think we are part of a silent majority. With your help, I hope we can remove the 'silent' from that majority and make our voices heard by 'Big TMS' (to paraphrase from Infor's campaign!). ;-)

    Cheers,
    C
    Posted by Christopher Hughey

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  16. The TMS folks I know are nice people. :-) But if we the users do not provide feedback then how should they know that something is wrong?! It works both ways.

    We'll see. I guess we need to start collaborating and see each other as peers instead of opponents:

    -- translator vs. vendor
    -- vendor vs. client
    -- translator vs. client

    etc.

    Best,
    Ayfer
    Posted by Ayfer Bektas

    ReplyDelete
  17. Christopher HugheyMarch 29, 2011 at 12:39 PM

    Oh, I wouldn't say they are bad people: I have worked for two and at my current employer we are launching our own, so I would be calling myself a bad person. :) I just want to see bottom-up feedback actually making its way into products, and there seems to be some resistance to that, mainly just due to inertia, I think; certainly not due to ill will.

    Posted by Christopher Hughey

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  18. Perhaps you are interested in visiting Transopedia, a collection of translation industry related terms. This glossary provides an explanation of many of the terms frequently used in connection with translation and other linguistic services. Please click the link below

    English Hungarian translator

    ReplyDelete
  19. From what I have heard and seen for myself, the computer assisted translation related feature sets of most TMS are years behind the traditional computer assisted translation tools. I can perfectly understand the desperation of translators who are used to work with CAT tools when some TMS are forced onto them. Instead of trying to emulate CAT tools, TMS should rather concentrate on business management, workflow and CRM and be open to interface with already existing TenTs.

    Posted by Michael Scholand

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  20. Hi everyone - I found this conversation very interesting. The way I see it (and the way we try to implement things at Lingo24) is to accept that the translation workflow has to be extremely flexible from a client perspective. And this is why the plug-in route will likely be the most successful one.

    In this day and age of plentiful, free, easy-to-use software, you can't expect people to change the way they do things. As an example of how not to do it, I saw some marketing material from a content management system which has multilingual capabilities. The marketing material said something like: "It is easy to translate your content in the modern age. Step 1: stop using your current systems and move to ours. Step 2: [well these are irrelevant as Step 1 is crazy for most companies]"

    So - translation/localisation/localization is very complicated - but LSPs have to fit in with client workflows and not impose rigid inflexible workflows on buyers. This is why the plug-in solution will work, as a well designed plug-in can slot the translation phase into the existing workflow of a client and then it becomes the LSPs task to manipulate the workflow at their end and not muck around with the client workflow.

    I just can't see a future for big complex enterprise level TMS systems, because there are altenratives which are quicker, easier, cheaper, and don't force buyers of translation to make significant changes to the way they do things.

    At Lingo24, we have several clients who have gone down the plug-in route with us (we've worked with them to build a plug-in for their CMS for example) and everything works very very smoothly, and it is seamless for our clients. In contrast, we have customers who use a platform which we have built which forces them into a necessarily limited set of workflows (our workflows, not theirs)
    and everything is messy.

    Hope I've made some sense with my perspective from a tech-ambitious medium sized translation company!

    Jack

    Posted by Jack Waley-Cohen

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  21. To state ones "disbelief in TMS systems" is like denying the Apollo moon landings. TMS are all around us, helping to translate billions of words every year. Computer assisted translation technology has revolutionized the industry by automating parts of the translation process that lend itself to automation. TMS do the same with the management processes around translation. Condemning certain technologies to celebrate other solutions in return does not help the translation industry. "The condemned live longer" and so will TMS. Flexible and open TMS will enjoy many years of good health before extinction, as will CAT tools.

    Posted by Michael Scholand

    ReplyDelete
  22. Vladimir PedchenkoApril 12, 2011 at 12:21 PM

    Kirti, I would be pleased to provide you real example with analysis
    “Why are there so many TMS systems? Why do they all have such small installed bases?”

    We have big installed base - more than 700 translation agencies. You can look at hundred something agencies who submitted their descriptions to our Web-site at http://projetex.com/powered-by-projetex

    “Why does every LSP and Corporate Localization department think that their translation project management process is so unique that it can only be properly automated by creating a new TMS system? Could this not be better accomplished by using more mainstream (= installed base of hundreds or thousands) collaboration and database tools?”

    We had some of the translation agencies go through the process of developing in-house tool or trying to adapt some other tool to fit their needs. Finally, they have switched to Projetex. I will mention only few key facts which make translation management within translation agencies unique, here just a few:

    1. Mixed teams: In-house plus freelancers.
    2. Flat projects, not deep one. It means that you need to get translation done, proofread and delivered, with some quality and other updates. Not that you have 5 months to deliver a final product and time for meetings.
    3. 2 stages is a must, translation and proofreading.
    4. 1 project manager is in charge of multiple projects.
    5. A lot of small projects.
    6. Multi-currency support is a must. That’s where 70% of existing tools fail.
    7. Support of workflow is more important than support of project management.

    Posted by Vladimir Pedchenko

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  23. Hi Kirti - interesting topics you've raised here and at http://www.linkedin.com/groupItem?view=&gid=1933380&type=member&item=47046826&qid=091e0486-2430-4fea-98ac-f6a9ffaf002c&goback=.gde_1933380_member_47046826.gmp_1933380

    The viewpoint given by Blau in his talk is typical of a vendor type that we call "Assiduous Assemblers," one of five types we described last year "Tech-Savvy LSPs" report ( http://www.commonsenseadvisory.com/AbstractView.aspx?ArticleID=780 ). But that is a minority position and few LSPs can compete in that space. VistaTech in Ireland and Moravia in Czecho are well-known examples of this type - it requires a lot of know how and a willingness to buy, configure, and integrate software for any compelling client opportunity - and love it. These companies will tell you that every client is unique and they pride themselves on building custom solutions. There's a lot more business out there that does not require custom solutions, but the assemblers don't like it because it's "commoditized" and they can't charge more for it -- but mostly because there's no fun in it. A lot of what we found was that it comes down to the mindset and preferences of the founders, combined with the industry focus of an LSP - early customers and first hires leave a lasting imprint on the technology approach taken by an LSP.

    TMS is not going anywhere, I think, but up. A lot of software being sold. But it's starting from a small number, yes, so in the next few years it's still a small segment, as is MT. Hard to predict more than a few years though. One scenario is that language asset management becomes a core component of enterprise content management. With one difference: whereas there are compelling reasons for multiple CMSes in the enterprise, no such argument can be made for multiple TMSes. That's because TM, term and MT stores are core assets that must feed all and any CMS. TMS should be the hub, and CMS and UX applications feed off of it. Hard to imagine that happening, except that that is what's required. So we'll see.

    Posted by Ben Sargent

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  24. Mmh, if going nowhere means going up I prefer that direction than going down and somewhere. We started implementing our home-grown TMS 3 years ago and going for it (and developing it ourselves) was one of the best business decisions ever. We have gained transparency, control, UNE 15038 and ISO 9001 compliance, process efficiency and huge productivity gains. Here are some examples. 1. A while ago, we have implemented what I have heard recently being termed as "deep CAT tool integration". It means that by receiving client CMS generated work packages, we create a project in our TMS which then defines a project in our CAT tool (automatically selecting the appropriate TM and dictionaries), kicks off the import of the files to be translated and creates the project statistics which are then imported into our TMS. Workflows that previously took several hours are now carried out in a matter of minutes. 2. Quote creation. Whereas in 2009 we sent out 191 quotes, in 2010 this figure grew to 462. In the first quarter of 2011, we have created 194 quotes, giving us a projected figure of almost 800 quotes per year. We managed this increase with basically the same team of 2 sales and 8 project managers. Unthinkable without TMS. TMS are dedicated ERPs, ie. ERPs for translation vendors and IMHO, ERPs have sufficiently proved there raison d'ĂȘtre. I think I am one of the "Assiduous Assemblers" :-) and yes, it is fun.

    Posted by Michael Scholand

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  25. Hi Michael - actually if you've built "a" TMS and run most of your projects on that core platform in one way or another - with occasional exceptions for special customers and little jobs - I am guessing you are a "Super Servicer" rather than the assiduous type. Fun with names ;-) but the typology is informative - we should talk offline if you want to learn more.
    Posted by Ben Sargent

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  26. Yes, of course, every single project runs through our "one and only" TMS, except those little favours we are quite often asked (could you please translate one / two / three lines...). Makes more sense to process and deliver these by return of mail, without TMS and even without invoicing them. Following your TMS sub-type definition from your MLC March 2007 article, our TMS focusses on business and process management. Since our CAT tool is Transit and we interface with it through its API, we leave the Translation Management part to Transit. We only create and manage some part of the TM and terminology metadata in the TMS.

    Posted by Michael Scholand

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  27. This is one of the best posts I read about localization. Thanks for sharing!

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