Watch the Videos from the Boston Localization Technology Round Table

The Boston Localization Technology Round Table event was a great success. Nearly 40 customer-side industry professionals registered for the live event, and 100+ people registered for viewing the live-stream from the event.

For each of us presenting, it was a great chance to offer something new for the industry—a way to bring the conference to the event attendees and feature best practices and efficiencies offered by five separate but complementary companies. We hope that the attendees learned something, met a colleague or two, and gained some valuable perspective. We all enjoyed the event too and are already planning our next Roundtable in the Bay Area this coming February.

The video recordings of each individual session from the Boston Localization Technology Round Table are now available for viewing on the Lingoport Website.

Click here to view the rest of the videos from the Boston Localization Technology Round Table event.

Don’t hesitate to contact the presenters directly if should you have any questions or if you would like to learn more about their services and tools:

Clay Tablet
Robinson Kelly
rkelly at clay-tablet.com
www.clay-tablet.com

Asia Online
Kirti Vashee
kirti.vashee at asiaonline.net
www.asiaonline.net

Milengo
Adam Blau
adam.blau at milengo.com
www.milengo.com

acrolinx
Kent Taylor
Kent.Taylor at acrolinx.com
www.acrolinx.com

Lingoport
Adam Asnes
aasnes at lingoport.com
www.lingoport.com

The Localization Technology Round Table: Boston October 2010

The Localization Technology Round Table, held on Tuesday, October 19th in Boston, Massachusetts in front of a live audience and streamed online to a worldwide audience, brought together 5 industry leaders to present an open technology framework that speeds up time to market and drastically reduces your localization and translation costs.

Together, Lingoport, acrolinx, Clay Tablet, Milengo and Asia Online showed how advanced, modular localization technology addresses the challenges faced when launching products or services to international markets in multiple languages.

Attendees were not only able to learn the key considerations when taking an international product from design to launch through, Internationalization, Information Authoring, Content Management, and Localization and Translation Automation but also learned how this is achievable quickly, and with fewer resources, while maintaining a consistent brand and user experience that builds value, saves time and reduces costs.

Simply click the below videos to view the sessions again in full length. The links to the presentations in PDF format can be found right below the videos.

Machine Translation Technology Integration by Kirti Vashee of Asia Online
A leader in Translation Technology shows how Machine Translation can make a huge impact on localization productivity delivering more words, faster and at a lower average cost.

You’ll learn:

  • How the real time content model is set to change the localization landscape and how MT is poised to address this challenge.
  • How MT can enable new kinds of projects never considered before, including those with millions of words.
  • How large volume MT projects can facilitate rapid market expansion

Download Kirti’s Machine Translation Technology Integration Presentation in PDF format

Lingoport, an Internationalization and Localization Company

Software Internationalization Best Practices by Adam Asnes of Lingoport
A leader in software internationalization solutions introduces the challenge of taking a complex software/hardware product to market in multiple languages. Lingoport will show how internationalization at the earliest stages of product design results in gains in efficiency and cost reductions further down the localization value chain.

You’ll learn:

  • How to make your software work in all languages
  • Why translation is crucial to sales success
  • How internationalization drives efficiency in the localization value chain

Download Adam’s Internationalization Presentation in PDF format.

acrolinx

Information Quality Management Solutions by Kent Taylor of acrolinx
The world’s leading provider of Information Quality Management Solutions will show how to deliver quality product and technical information faster and for less money, despite time-to-market pressures, insufficient editing staff, and rapidly changing technology.

You’ll learn:

  • How to save 15% – 25% on translation costs with quality source content
  • What you need to know to improve your processes today
  • Quality Management in the Information Development Environment

Download Kent’s Information Quality Management Solutions Presentation in PDF format

Clay Tablet

Content Management, Customer Relationship Management and Product Information Management System Integration by Robinson Kelly of Clay Tablet
A leader in localization efficiency solutions shows how automated translation processes make it simple to deliver product support and technical content from any Content Management, Customer Relationship Management or Product Information Management system and deliver significant reductions in localization costs and time to market.

You’ll learn:

  • How Business Information Systems can be leveraged to deliver multilingual content.
  • How sending content for translation is easy and hassle free
  • How an automated workflow improves time to market and reduces costs when launching international products.

Download Robinson’sContent Management, Customer Relationship Management and Product Information Management System IntegrationPresentation in PDF format.

Milengo

Localization and Translation Best Practices by Adam Blau of Milengo
A global provider of language services to Fortune 500 companies shows how multi-language vendors blend advanced localization workflows and technology to deliver multi-language translations quicker and, at a lower cost.

You’ll learn:

  • How rapid market expansion requires rapid translation results
  • Why human translation is important and the areas it really makes a difference
  • How machines and humans can work together to tackle large volume multi language projects

Download Adam’s Localization and Translation Best Practices Presentation in PDF format.

Speakers

Read more

Localization Technology Roundtable Event Series

Are you challenged with finding more efficient ways to launch your company’s solutions faster, with fewer resources, and less expensive in multiple languages? Are you faced with maintaining a consistent brand and user experience when entering new global markets?

Lingoport, a leading provider of software internationalization tools and services, acrolinx, the world’s leading provider of Information Quality Management software, Milengo, a global language service provider, Asia Online, a provider of near-human quality mass translations, and Clay Tablet, a provider of translation integration software systems, have joined forces  and will present how advanced, modular globalization, localization, and translation technologies simplify the process when launching products or services to international markets in multiple languages.

Event: “Localization Technology Roundtable”

Dates and Locations:

  • Tuesday, October 19th in Boston
  • Wednesday, October 20th in New York
  • Thursday, October 21st in Washington, DC.

Agenda and Registration: http://www.lingoport.com/localization-technology-roundtable

Cost: Complimentary

Presenters: Adam Asnes, Lingoport President and CEO, Kent Taylor, VP and General Manager at acrolinx, Robinson Kelly, Founder and CEO of Clay Tablet, Renato Beninatto, CEO of Milengo, and Kirti Vashee, Vice President of Sales, Americas and Europe of Asia Online

Who should attend: The Localization Technology Roundtable Event Series targets Senior Executives responsible for international market share, Technical/Engineering Managers, as well as professionals involved in helping their company succeed in international markets.

Why should you attend:

The Localization Technology Roundtable Event Series allows attendees to:

  • Access a wealth of information from globalization and localization industry experts.
  • Discover new technologies and techniques to launch products worldwide faster and cheaper.
  • Share information with industry leaders and network with their peers in an informal atmosphere.

Your company’s offerings for world markets are often critical factors for growth, profitability and long term value. This is a unique opportunity to learn from experienced industry veterans about practical ways to measurably improve what can easily be either one of the greatest strengths of your company, or a messy, delayed and expensive misadventure.

For additional information, please feel free to contact Chris Raulf by email at craulf@lingoport.com or call 303.444.8020 x705.

Not Just Software. Medical Device Software.

Guest Blog post by Andres Heuberger, CEO and Founder of ForeignExchange Translations.

While any software localization can be challenging, medical device software adds yet another layer of complexity to the equation. This complexity comes from the fact that software is so integral to the functioning and therapy of a device that is keeping a person alive. Regulators are acknowledging this and device companies have to deal with new rules and new challenges.

Software Localization, Internationalization, and TranslationWith the advent of the new Medical Device Directive (MDD) amended by Directive 2007/47/EC and implemented six months ago, software is now included in the definition of a medical device. It does not matter whether the software is integrated into the actual device or is a stand-alone product. Software validation will also be an Essential Requirement (ER 12.1a) under the MDD. Annex I, Essential Requirement 12.1 has been amended to include that software must be validated, taking into account the principles of development lifecycle, risk management, validation and verification. In this context, proper software internationalization is even more important.

Software code needs to be able to handle different characters such as diacritical marks, as well as user inputs. User prompts need to be unambiguous and clear, especially since the prompts can be presented at times of user stress and emergency situations. Some device companies have started to use cognitive debriefing techniques which were, until now, reserved for the validation of pharmaceutical patient-reported outcomes, in order to evaluate the effectiveness of software interfaces. Having to carry this out in multiple languages and geographies can complicate development projects, not to mention the costs involved. On the translation side of medical device software, there is a narrow skill set for linguists, who must be able to translate software strings out of context, understand medical terminology and, in many cases, be savvy enough to test localized software on different platforms.

All is not bleak though. The companies who are most successful with their software localization are the ones who build projects specifications with localization in mind from the start and who lean on their translation providers for support from project inception through to final testing. It’s a brave new world, and medical device companies have no choice but to embrace it and understand the regulations and implications while devising new ways of working.

ForeignExchange Translations provides specialized medical translation and localization solutions to pharmaceutical and medical device companies. For more information, visit www.fxtrans.com.

The Localization Technology Round Table Event Series

View all presentations here

The Localization Technology Round Table brings together five industry leaders to present an open technology framework that speeds up time to market and drastically reduces your localization and translation costs.

Together, Lingoport, Acrolinx, Clay Tablet, Milengo and Asia Online will show how advanced, modular localization technology addresses the challenges faced when launching products or services to international markets in multiple languages.

You’ll learn the key considerations when taking an international product from design to launch through, Internationalization, Information Authoring, Content Management, Localization and Translation Automation.

And you’ll learn how this is achievable quickly, and with fewer resources, while maintaining a consistent brand and user experience that builds value, saves time and reduces costs.

You will also:

  • Access a wealth of localization experience from industry experts
  • Discover new technologies and new ways of working that are already changing the localization landscape
  • Learn strategies that can streamline your localization efforts and help you quickly launch products worldwide
  • Share information with like-minded peers and learn proven practices that you’ll find nowhere else

The Localization Technology Round Table event is free of charge, space is limited, and scheduled to be held at the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel on Tuesday, October 19th in Boston.

Please note that the Wednesday, October 20th event in New York and the Thursday, October 21st event in Washington, DC will have to be rescheduled for 2011.

Agenda

8am – 9am: Continental Breakfast and Networking

9am: Introduction

Renato Beninatto from Milengo provides an introduction to the event, the speakers and an overview of the presentations.

9:05am: Software Internationalization Best Practices by Adam Asnes of Lingoport
A leader in software internationalization solutions introduces the challenge of taking a complex software/hardware product to market in multiple languages. Lingoport will show how internationalization at the earliest stages of product design results in gains in efficiency and cost reductions further down the localization value chain.

You’ll learn:

  • How to make your software work in all languages
  • Why translation is crucial to sales success
  • How internationalization drives efficiency in the localization value chain

Acrolinx - Technology for Information Quality

9:20am: Information Quality Management Solutions by Kent Taylor of acrolinx
The world’s leading provider of Information Quality Management Solutions will show how to deliver quality product and technical information faster and for less money, despite time-to-market pressures, insufficient editing staff, and rapidly changing technology.

You’ll learn:

  • How to save 15% – 25% on translation costs with quality source content
  • What you need to know to improve your processes today
  • Quality Management in the Information Development Environment

Clay Tablet Technologies

9:35am: Content Management, Customer Relationship Management and Product Information Management System Integration by Robinson Kelly of Clay Tablet
A leader in localization efficiency solutions shows how automated translation processes make it simple to deliver product support and technical content from any Content Management, Customer Relationship Management or Product Information Management system and deliver significant reductions in localization costs and time to market.

You’ll learn:

  • How Business Information Systems can be leveraged to deliver multilingual content.
  • How sending content for translation is easy and hassle free
  • How an automated workflow improves time to market and reduces costs when launching international products.

9:50am: Break and refreshments

Milengo

10:00am: Localization and Translation Best Practices by Renato Beninatto of Milengo
A global provider of language services to Fortune 500 companies shows how multi-language vendors blend advanced localization workflows and technology to deliver multi-language translations quicker and, at a lower cost.

You’ll learn:

  • How rapid market expansion requires rapid translation results
  • Why human translation is important and the areas it really makes a difference
  • How machines and humans can work together to tackle large volume multi language projects

Asia Online

10:15am: Machine Translation Technology Integration by Kirti Vashee of Asia Online
A leader in Translation Technology shows how Machine Translation can make a huge impact on localization productivity delivering more words, faster and at a lower average cost.

You’ll learn:

  • How the real time content model is set to change the localization landscape and how MT is poised to address this challenge.
  • How MT can enable new kinds of projects never considered before, including those with millions of words.
  • How large volume MT projects can facilitate rapid market expansion

10:30am: Q&A

10:50am: Break / Refreshments

11am – 2pm: Networking / Consultation / One-on-one Discussions

In the final part of the event you’ll have the opportunity to speak individually with any of the presenters to answer your questions and discuss how the concepts covered can benefit you.

Speakers

Renato Beninatto
CEO & Chief Instigator at Milengo

Renato BeninattoRenato is a corporate strategist and market research evangelist with nearly 30 years of executive-level leadership in the localization industry. A native of Brazil, Renato serves on the Advisory Board of Localization World and remains an active member of several industry groups worldwide, including the American Translators Association (ATA), the European Language Industry Association, the Association of Language Companies (ALC), and the Globalization and Localization Association (GALA).

Kent Taylor
General Manager at acrolinx

Kent TaylorKent Taylor defines himself as a Recovering Pubs Director and a 30-year enterprise publishing veteran, experienced in all aspects of information development and delivery, with a strong focus on people, process, technology, and quality.  And, he is always seeking the Holy Grail: cost, quality, and timeliness – all at the same time!

Kirti Vashee
Vice President of Enterprise Translation Sales at Asia Online

Kirti VasheeKirti Vashee is a seasoned sales and marketing executive of technology products who has built a reputation as an evangelist for SMT technology. He has been a prominent and accomplished speaker on automated translation technology in a variety of localization and globalization technology focused conferences around the world.

Robinson Kelly
CEO & Founder of Clay Tablet Technologies

Robinson KellyRobinson is a technology entrepreneur and business start-up veteran. Clay Tablet is the fourth start-up technology company he’s been involved with over the past 15 years, including, working in Silicon Valley launching a content management firm. Robinson is now responsible for the sustained growth of the company by driving strategy, managing major partnerships, setting goals and directing the team.


President & CEO of Lingoport

Adam Asnes founded Lingoport in 2001 after seeing firsthand that the niche for software globalization engineering products and services was underserved in the localization industry. Adam AsnesLingoport helps globally focused technology companies adapt their software for worldwide markets with expert internationalization and localization consulting and Globalyzer software. Globalyzer, a market leading software internationalization tool, helps entire enterprises and development teams to effectively internationalize existing and newly developed source code and to prepare their applications for localization.


The Pros and Cons of Simship

Today, most companies planning the worldwide release of a product will likely debate the merits of whether or not to “simship” (i.e. releasing a product worldwide all at once rather than in their home market first with localized versions available later). While companies new to global markets may shy away from “simship,” more established worldwide companies have embraced the “simship” strategy for several significant reasons. First, localizing and releasing their product in all markets at once allows these companies to generate global revenues faster (rather than just in their home market).  Second, delays can be costly. By making localization a tail-end process, companies are only deferring the work and, more important, missing the opportunity to trouble-shoot their product across all localized platforms before release.  Third, new internationalization technologies are making the process more agile, allowing more frequent product releases worldwide.

In short, while a “simship” approach may mean more up-front costs and more time required before a product is released, emerging companies new to the global marketplace should give “simship” serious consideration. As more established worldwide companies will attest to, the benefits of the “simship” approach far outweigh the initial sacrifices.

For additional information on this topic, please also refer to Adam Asnes’ article: The Business Why and How of Simship

Webinar Video: Internationalization in Action

It can be daunting to figure out how to best approach and perform an internationalization effort on a large source code base. Do it poorly and you’re stuck in an expensive cycle of delays and sub-par localization results. Consequently, you may also delay or miss out on budgeted revenue from foreign target markets.

As part of this webinar recording, Lingoport President and CEO Adam Asnes will use an open source code base as an example, and evaluate the programmatic elements of the application that are affected by locale requirements. Adam will comb through the code using Globalyzer, Lingoport’s software internationalization software, to find and externalize internationalization issues.

This interactive one-hour webinar recording covers a variety of topics, including:

  • A short primer on internationalization and localization basics
  • Considering locale and technology requirements
  • Analyzing your code base for internationalization issues
    • Identify and externalize embedded strings
    • Locale-sensitive methods/functions and classes
    • Programming patterns
    • Filtering your results
    • Integrating internationalization into your development teams
    • Questions and answers

Join us for a hands-on webinar featuring practical real world advice based on extensive software globalization experience over a wide breadth of technologies and applications. The information covered in this presentation is aimed toward professionals faced with ongoing internationalization issues, including:

  • Technical managers
  • Software developers
  • Localization engineers and managers
  • Internationalization engineers and managers
  • Product managers
  • And anyone wanting to increase and solidify their internationalization and localization knowledge


The Business Why and How of Simship

This article was originally featured in the July/August 2010 issue of MultiLingual Computing Magazine, in Adam Asnes’ Business Side column. 

The subject of managing releases over worldwide markets can be a contentious one, with pros and cons on either side of business and development cases. The concept of simship is that if you are releasing your product to worldwide markets, you do it all at once rather than first releasing to your home market and then following with localized versions later. I can’t say that any one approach is right for all organizations, business situations and products, but I can share with you some of the organizational, procedural and business issues that contribute to successful simship global releases.

When a company commits to product releases that serve a worldwide customer base, there’s a long shadow cast on revenue, marketing, sales teams and of course development practices and testing. It’s a challenging logistical undertaking to release software products in multiple markets, requiring well-integrated planning and practices. It’s no wonder simship is viewed alternatively as difficult and impractical to the best thing a company can do. Let’s consider a few of the issues within any organization, starting with the business case.

Internationalization and localization are always in pursuit of a business case, and one exists both for and against simship. That said, the business cases tend to vary based on the global perspective and maturity of the company. The case for simship is strongest among experienced global companies. Their revenues are already global, so delaying releases for localized versions only serves to delay resulting new release revenues. There may be good reason for adding secondary tiers for some local release schedules, but products really should be internationalized, with a clear path for localization and testing within the development path. In practice this isn’t the reality, but there’s quite a bit of agreement and successful data on the business case existing for simship with this class of company.

When companies are relatively new to global markets, they generally tend to put less of an emphasis on simship with new releases, and more of an emphasis on market or business agreements as drivers for their efforts. Perhaps they have a new customer or distributor that must have a localized version. In that case, synchronizing new version development with localization is usually—but not always—an afterthought. This is because the company sees its prime revenues being driven by current product customers. New releases boost sales, renewals and competition, so that connection is strongest where the current customers are. We’d still argue that even under these circumstances, simship should not be pushed aside, as there are gains to be made both for revenues and operations.

Time and Revenue Projections

Attached to initial time to release and revenue opportunities are quarterly and annual growth numbers. If a product is expected to grow sales by percentages outlined and expected in a marketing plan over months, quarters and years, significant delays in turn make those projections difficult, if not impossible, to meet. Delays add up to real dollars. Now let’s leave the business case behind and look at software development organizations. It is extremely common among both development and localization teams to view localization as a tail-end process. But this is a critically limiting perception if your company is committing itself to serve global customers. Practically, a company shouldn’t build a product with a requirement as major as supporting multiple locales as a tail-end process. Even in cases where legacy code is now being first internationalized for global customers, once that adaptation is complete, from then on localization should be included as an expected part of the development process. That means including requirements for planning, architecture, development implementation, testing and release.

I asked my internationalization colleague Tex Texin to add some words about this. He seconded that as with many other aspects of globalizing applications, development organizations tend to see just the work and delay to releasing their product and not the benefits. And although we work to plan to minimize the pain, there is cost to achieving simship. However, exercising the localized versions often uncovers critical problems in the product core that can require urgent updates, recalls or even the creation of specialized tools to repair customer data in the field. In that context, simship is not only a requirement to be in the international markets and significantly enhance revenue, but is an important part of product testing preventing problems that are costly to repair and damaging to both reputation and future domestic sales.

Tactics

Simship nearly always seems to be the outcome of an internationalization implementation. So, we have some experience working with legacy code that we are internationalizing and then merging with concurrent new development, building localization proactively into the process.

We find and work with the localizable content embedded in the code first. We gain a clear estimate of localization costs by examining those strings, even while they are still embedded in the code using static source analysis. That’s important because it allows the budget and financing mechanisms of an organization more time to accurately fund the localization. Then we systematically provide externalized strings for localization as we go along in the project, rather than waiting until the end. We also perform static analysis on concurrent new feature development so that when we merge legacy and new code, we minimize the risk of expensive surprises. We build functional internationalization and localization test cases and execute both. The internationalization functional testing can be performed by testers regardless of linguistic proficiency. However, because we have been localizing all along, we are also quickly ready for linguistic testing. The combined processes are extremely effective in finding both functional and linguistic defects that may have passed through if performed as an afterthought.

Agile Development: It’s one thing to talk about including localization into your internationalization and development process on large-scale efforts, but what about smaller scale and rapid agile releases? Turns out it’s really no different. I talked to Mike McKenna, globalization manager at Yahoo!, to get some perspective. An extreme example is the release cycles for Flickr, Yahoo!’s photo sharing social network. Flickr sometimes rolls out four to six releases per day, holding the expectation that developers can get immediate access to translations they may need, likely to be small UI changes. Then they pride themselves with directly connecting their developers to users, without intermediaries, to fix issues that may arise from localization or functional changes.

Yahoo! has other software, such as its Open Strategy Platform or Yahoo! Application Platform, which typically have six-week release cycles. In this case, there is a UI freeze before the release sprint so that localization can be integrated into the final release sprint. Developers work with their localization managers and ensure any last-minute tweaks that may become necessary to the UI during the release sprint are well coordinated.

Security: Let’s go back using our timetunnel to the 1990s: Windows 95 was first released in August 1995, its first service pack was released in February 1996 and the second pack in 1998. The localized versions were always lagging behind: Microsoft first released the “Enabled“ version, which was not localized but could run software in your language. A few months later, Microsoft released the localized version. Today, Microsoft and other companies release security patches on a monthly basis if not on a weekly basis. Can you imagine releasing the patch in North America first and only a few months later in the rest of the world? Simship enables the release of security patches and other critical patches on a timely basis to all markets and prevents security glitches.

Internationalization as Enabler

The success of localization and the ability to coordinate simship processes are directly dependent upon the quality of a product’s internationalization as well as the development team’s ongoing internationalization practices. Internationalization is the software development enabler, and without it or without a consistent internationalization benchmark, localization and particularly simship get broken. As the saying goes, garbage in, garbage out. Simship takes a little more planning, time, tools and coordination, but it’s hardly an onerous process. Like a lot of things, your organization has to be aware of the benefits and just do it. Then the actual doing is clearly achievable.

About the Author

Adam Asnes is President and CEO at Lingoport and enjoys investigating how globalization technology affects businesses expanding their worldwide reach. Adam is a sought after speaker at industry events and a columnist on globalization technology as it affects businesses expanding their worldwide reach. He often writes articles for localization, internationalization and globalization industry publications and enjoys cycling and Colorado’s Rocky Mountains; he can be reached by clicking here.

Lingoport’s Internationalization (I18n) and Localization (L10n) Tools and Consulting Solutions

Founded in 2001, Lingoport provides extensive software localization and internationalization consulting services. Lingoport’s Globalyzer software, a market leading software internationalization tool, helps entire enterprises and development teams to effectively internationalize existing and newly developed source code and to prepare their applications for localization.

For more information on how Lingoport can assist you with all of your internationalization and localization needs, please contact us at info@lingoport.com, call 303.444.8020, or complete the quote request form.

What If Internationalization Expectations Exceed Your Budget? – Significantly

Note: This article is featured in the June 2010 issue
of MultiLingual Computing Magazine, in Adam Asnes’ Business Side column.

If you’re considering internationalizing a large and complex software product, there’s one thing you should be prepared for: it’s expensive. There’s just no way around it if you want an application that properly presents, inputs, transforms and reports complex data. I’m talking about applications measured in the hundreds of thousands to millions of lines of code. Seriously, you’re just not going to internationalize a sizeable application that you’ve taken years to develop with money just laying around – unless you have a lot of money laying around, which is pretty rare these days. But before we consider what to do about it, let’s consider the main reasons why you may need to internationalize:

Survival –

Your customers are increasingly global, and perhaps they use your product to reach their customers. If you’re not internationalized, you’re limiting their business. The competition and your customers will know this and will eventually eat your company alive. You’d better start finding some money.

A Sale –

There is nothing like an important customer to get an initiative moving. If this sale funds the internationalization effort, it makes things easier, though there will be commitment that will extend beyond any one customer. I’ve written before how changing your encoding will change your company. But if this sale doesn’t pay for the effort, corporate initiative will be needed.

Your company is global –

Perhaps your company is a global brand and you’ve quickly developed or acquired a product that isn’t internationalized. In this case, the decision to internationalize is usually simple. You do it because you already have a global reputation, sales and distribution. If you have to justify ROI, somebody is missing the point, there’s a temporary issue or the product isn’t showing promise.

Strategic Initiative –

This article isn’t going to be about all the strategic benefits of growing global revenues with products that leverage themselves worldwide, because you know all about that, right? But acting on strategy takes foresight, money, expertise and perseverance.

If you have any of the above situations except budget, this article is especially for you.

I’ll repeat a situation I’ve seen many times. My firm, Lingoport, will be called upon for initial consulting as a company is considering internationalization in reaction to a declared strategic objective to gain business outside a home market. They usually have one or two customers asking for just that, but perhaps there isn’t enough initial interest to finance the necessary development and localization. We go back and perform static analysis on the code using our Globalyzer software, counting the embedded strings, locale-limiting methods/functions/classes and programming patterns that will need attention and refactoring, combined with architectural changes to support locale and changes in processing.

Even with automating tasks for batch efforts like string externalization (after analysis), you still have design, engineering and testing cycles that add up to significant expense. At this point we find out just how strong corporate global resolve sits. And in some cases that resolve is just not quite ready. It’s not a lost cause by any means. In fact, almost always, it’s just a matter of time and resources and most come around in future quarters or fiscal years. But there lies the gap for development managers.

Rarely do developers internationalize software just because it would be cool. You do see that kind of initiative for new features, where a developer might get an idea, work on it during odd or even personal time, and voila, present it to his or her company peers. I have yet to see that happen regarding internationalization (write me if you see otherwise). Still, developers and management often know the need to internationalize is there; ready to become a firm requirement any quarter now. They can go on continuing to develop new features and update current code and not go near internationalization, but actually increasing the scope of the internationalization effort as they grow the code base. Or they can take some simple steps to get ready. To use an expression, “When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.” Here’s a brief list of what you can do:

  • Gather requirements – new locale requirements will go much further than what languages will need to be supported. An architect can be tasked with learning about issues like character encoding and locale frameworks. A product marketing person can learn a bit about use cases and business logic that may alter how the product behaves in new countries. It is all too easy to underestimate the requirements phase. Locale behavior will involve quite a bit more than just string externalization. Start tallying and recording what is found in a centrally available resource, like the company wiki for all to build upon and learn about.
  • Prototype a string retrieval method. Learn about resource files and string ID’s and how to make them work. Again, list your results in the company wiki.
  • Do a little reading about Unicode and its various encodings, along with appropriate technologies for their use. It’s not enough to commit to using Unicode. You have to gain some understanding of just what that means.
  • Consider your database schema and how that might change for locale support along with likely changes to character encoding.
  • Consider any third party components or open source you use within your application. Start inquiring about their internationalization support.
  • Consider internationalizing a pilot effort or component of your software if your product architecture will permit it. There’s nothing like learning by doing. And if you decide to take a somewhat different approach later, it probably won’t be too difficult to alter what you’ve already done.
  • Refine your planning – as you learn more, your planning efforts are likely to get clearer. As plans get clearer, they seem less risky and large. You’ll be in a better position to defend expected costs, resources and schedules.
  • Consider application logic. Does your software manage a process that is performed differently around the world?
  • Talk with experts – It’s not prudent to try and reinvent the internationalization process. An experience expert, who’s really been through multiple implementations rather than just advising, can get you prepared faster and cheaper than the time it will take using your internal developers. I’ve seen companies create their own proprietary approaches that ultimately get in the way of a successful implementation. Initial consultation shouldn’t be a budget buster. Even so there are free internationalization webinars (we give them and others do too) and excellent conferences available (i.e. Worldware and the Unicode Conferences).
  • Start measuring toward your expected outcome – If you establish internationalization development practices and measure benchmarks, you are likely to see improvements to new development without significant cost in time and money. Static analysis tools like Globalyzer create a systematic approach, but if there’s no budget, then a simple and clear inclusion of practices and expectations can go a long way.

If you do at least some of this prior to any funded but highly likely internationalization requirement, you’ll be a tremendous asset to your firm’s globalization efforts. And globalization might just be one of the more significant and company-making undertakings that your firm can embark upon.

Innovation, Rejection and Overcoming Pitfalls

We pay a great deal of attention to innovation and sing its praises. But actually the road to creation, improvement and acceptance is messy and full of pitfalls. Innovation is often hard to recognize and to assign value, at first. More often than not, its introduction doesn’t live up to everyone’s expectations. But still it leaps forward, gracefully or not. I think it’s worth considering innovation more closely, given my own trials of bringing software to market, as well as watching the current industry public opinion mêlée regarding crowdsourcing.

Innovation promises great leaps forward. It offers hopeful and seemingly wondrous shortcuts and economies to everything it touches. It’s a new way, maybe audaciously conceived, and often tricky to execute. It’s also a fundamental pedestal for all we do. And many of us, if we are perseverant and lucky, are actually in the business of being innovative. But innovation always faces initial rejection. It’s just part of the deal.

There’s the promise of dramatic improvement, the skepticism, disappointment and persistence that we find so addicting. So I think it’s worth the time dissecting that process a bit, so we can all benefit a bit more from understanding the inventor, while bringing ourselves forward in ways we can apply to our professional and personal lives.

Great Leaps and Incremental Improvements

I recently read an article that proclaimed a requirement to call something an innovation is a 10x improvement in a process, expense or service. I rather like the idea of putting a numerical value on innovation, as it sets a target standard to be aiming for. I can ask, does my product provide that 10x improvement? That’s a demanding figure! However I don’t think you can discount innovation that isn’t as startling.

Some innovations, think of the printing press and more recently the internet, offer astronomical gains in productivity and information access across society. Going to the library to research has become a quaint activity, with power usurped from librarians everywhere. The internet becomes our personal assistant, advertising vehicle and even a translator. That doesn’t mean incremental improvements aren’t important either. Actually, I think the two are implicitly married, and that one doesn’t persist towards adoption without the other. Broadly applied innovation has an ecosystem of technologies, users and materials. For example, improvements in virus protection probably don’t have a 10x multiplier on internet use, but they do have a cumulative effect on browsing behavior of the people who adapt that protection. Think of the distinction in terms of game changing, and solving serious pitfalls. Both are important to success and adaptation.

Now it also seems that with innovation, you also necessarily encounter a sociological refusal that I’m saying you must overcome to be optimally successful. An example from my mid 90’s past we’d consider small minded now is needing to lobby a particular VP to grant internet access to sales people to help them research customers sites. The establishment fear was that people would spend all day surfing inappropriate sites that would take away from productivity. I can’t imagine an information technology company in that science-focused business applying that same reasoning any longer.

People, particularly from my generation or older, discount social media and blogging, but it’s actually a fairly effective and potent form of circulating news – yes many may not want all the minutia that comes with it, but it can be used quite powerfully and personally when used well.

In a more pedestrian example, I often hear about how code analysis tools won’t work, particularly applied to internationalization, even when there’s apparent proof in project and customer success that they do. I consider it a badge of honor that a leading localization company featured in their blog how internationalization tools are a myth. They all but called out my company’s product by name.  Yet an open mind and some actual research or even a phone call would have shown more of an embrace of the possibility of improvements that actually help the whole industry. People are all too happy to kill off innovation without a serious thought or investigation based on their experiences in the past. In other words, past attempts were unsuccessful before, so we’ll assume nothing could have changed. The blog post even sited products that have been extinct for years as evidence. Small example but this is how reactionary thinking plays out in management efforts that can potentially be damaging in an information industry routed in advancing technologies and development methods.

Where Innovation Comes From

I haven’t noticed a clear path to an innovation process, but what I do know is that ideas are common, good ideas are rare and good ideas followed with action are rarer still. A dynamic individual may have or come across what many would feel is a good idea, about 4 to 8 times per year – some people much more, some less. Ideas are always fun and exciting to me, but I confess to only following up on a few. The rest of creativity goes into tweaking current projects, or reading and learning and bringing those ideas into everyday activities.

Since there isn’t really any value in a creative or innovative idea without follow-through, there is nothing wrong and everything to gain by running with someone else’s innovative idea or improvement. You just have to keep an open mind to where it may come from.

Big ideas can come from the top down or bottom up. But incremental improvements more typically come from your everyday users or developers living with a product every day.

For instance, an ongoing challenge for us in our Globalyzer product, is that when our clients first apply it to perform static analysis on their code, they often end up with what we refer to as false positive results. That is, the product will flag internationalization errors, and in particular embedded strings, which may be programmatic elements such as debug statements or database queries. We developed rules based filters and a back end database to minimize, catch and tag them, but they typically need some adaptation and customization for each code base. That’s fine and to be expected and managed, and even a strength of the system, but what if there was another way?

And in fact a Jr. Programmer/intern working at my company doing a lot of code scanning for service projects made a simple remark, “what if we compared those strings to an actual dictionary? That would tell us quite a bit about the nature of the string just based on content, rather than programmatic rules.” It was a very good idea and one of our architects adapted it to make it real. By the time you are reading this, this improvement will have been released in our software. The young programmer is back in school and has moved on, but his good idea is about to become a real part of our product.

Innovation Devalues Everything it Touches

By its very nature, innovation puts either a person or process out of work. It wouldn’t be worth anything if it didn’t make someone more productive with less. At the same time, the first rounds of innovation are typically full of pitfalls that need to be overcome.

The immediate case that comes to mind is the current brouhaha over crowdsourcing. In case you haven’t attended LocalizationWorld,  read up on industry happenings, or participated in numerous LinkedIn discussions, Crowdsourcing is either a great evil or the most innovative thing that’s happened in our industry in a while, or something in between. There are complaints about the very concept, the devaluing of translator expertise and what some people feel is an inferior end result produced by enthusiastic, but naive, volunteers willing to work for accolades alone. Others, notably at Facebook, feel it’s a process that results in faster, cheaper translations at a higher quality. It’s not hard to find evidence supporting both sides, and I suppose at the moment final judgment on immediate results may not be the relevant criteria. More likely the industry could potentially have something to gain using the technologies for rendering translations in context with application pages, rather than the contextless traditional table view. These tools can be applied to more traditional translation resources, while also gaining a better linguistic review platform and buy-in from in-country clients and employees – who are after all, the real stakeholders and judges in a localization effort. But that’s just my understanding of it, and I may be overlooking something. Certainly there’s a long way to go, but I wouldn’t be caught on the side of belittling the persistent follow-through of dedicated people bringing ideas into reality and adding enhancements to overcome pitfalls.