An Interview About Improving L10n Quality in an Agile Environment with Jim Compton

As part of Lingoport and RWS Moravia’s webinar recording, A Proactive Approach to Global Release Quality, we interviewed Jim Compton, Technology Partnerships Manager at RWS to get some quick insights into the state of localization, building quality into each step of the process in alignment with sprints, and other topics he discusses in the webinar.

 

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Lingoport: Since the start of your career in the mid-90s, what have been the most significant changes to the localization industry over the years?

Jim Compton: Back when I started, the idea of content was pretty different. It was created, first of all, uni-directionally, so it would be created by a single entity and then deployed out into the world. There was a single direction of content creator and content customer. That’s really changed. The people who are consuming content are also creating content now, and I think that’s created altogether more pressure to be agile.

Previously, you might be able to plan with your product, releasing software documentation and help, let’s say as a package. You might say, “Oh, we’re going to release in Q2 of this year, and then we’ll release our localized version sometime after that.” Industry changes have made that a not very competitive or viable way of doing business anymore. You have to be in a state of constantly releasing and iterating.

That, of course, has put pressure on the concept of the localization project, this idea where you can wait for the customer to be done with what they’re building, and then start a localization project with a defined end date. That’s totally been displaced with this model where things are constantly being created and revised and need ongoing localization support.

 

Lingport: For a company new to localization and aligning with sprints … what is the top advice that you would give them?

Jim Compton: Quality is a layer; it’s not a step. If you have mistakes upstream in a process, those mistakes will end up compounding throughout the process, and if you’re waiting until the end of the process to identify them, it becomes exponentially more expensive and time consuming to correct them. In turn, you’re increasing your cycle time past the expectations of an agile production cycle.

So, the idea of trying to prevent the problems upstream, becomes really paramount. There are different ways that you can do this, but the practice of internationalization is really consistent with this idea. Make sure that before you go from a phase of development or authoring the software into the next big step of localization, you proactively take measures to prevent potential upstream errors.

Treating quality like a layer instead of a step means if you think of it like a layer, you actually add quality control in every step of the process.

 

Lingoport: Looking into the crystal ball, what new developments do you see in store for the localization industry in the coming two years?

Jim Compton: I think the big technological shift that I’m seeing right now is a change from the concept of localization to the idea of global content management. Instead of content being created with one market in mind and then adapting it to make it work in other languages, cultures, etc., you create content that is meant to be global from the start.

This, I believe, is fundamentally different than the current localization paradigm. The people who are designing/creating the global product must embrace localization best practices, rather than just viewing it as a next step activity

Another big shift is the definition of what content is. In the past, content was primarily considered something you read, however content now goes far beyond text, and even includes things such as voice data. I think the word content is evolving to mean data, and part of the value of the localization industry won’t be just providing translations but will be to provide global data.

Why is that useful? Data is the thing that can be applied to make intelligent decisions about big picture things like, “Should we double down in this market?” “Is what we’re doing in this market working for us?” “Do we need to do something else?” Having that data available when someone is managing their global content program will help them create content that’s likely to have the highest positive business impact.

 

Ready to learn more? Check out the webinar recording!

Date/Time

  • Date: June 13, 2019
  • Time: 9AM Pacific, Noon Eastern, 18:00 CEST
  • Duration: 40 minutes, plus audience Q&A

 

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Webinar: A Proactive Approach to Global Release Quality

Check out our webinar recording, “A Proactive Approach to Global Release Quality,” and learn how to increase speed while improving quality through technology, processes, and integrated QA.

 

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Bringing Quality and Speed Together

With Continuous I18n and L10n, there’s always pressure to deliver on speed, but it’s of equal importance to deliver exceptional quality. I18n issues, bad file formats, poor translations and a host of human errors consistently break the gains achieved through automation efforts.

Integrating QA to Deliver Superior Speed and Quality

In our June webinar recording, you’ll discover how to not only go faster, but how to deliver higher quality for software translation. We explore the benefits of technology and processes along with how to make QA an effective and continuous part of development, rather than something that happens after a sprint is complete.

We also look at ways to ease push back from developer teams and other stakeholders tasked with delivering new functionality on a tight schedule.

Featured Guest

The webinar recording features special guest, Jim Compton, Technology Program Manager at Moravia’s Language Technology Group. Jim is a localization-industry maven with over twenty-one years of multi-faceted experience. He’s created and implemented solutions to address growing global content needs and has developed a reputation as an innovator and passionate problem-solver.

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Date/Time

  • Date: June 13, 2019
  • Time: 9AM Pacific, Noon Eastern, 18:00 CEST
  • Duration: 40 minutes, plus audience Q&A

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Webinar: A 360 Degree View of Continuous Localization

Check out our webinar recording, “A 360 Degree View of Continuous Localization,” and learn how to achieve visibility between development and localization for faster, more accurate localization in alignment with your sprints.

It Takes Tech, Process and People

 

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Visibility’s Impact on Global Agility

When each contributor on your global team has visibility into project status and relevant metrics, your organization can be more globally nimble. During the webinar, hear success stories of effective coordination among software localization teams and developers and uncover the underlying drivers of such success.

Featured Guest

The webinar features special guest, Unn Villius, CSO at the localization and global content firm Vistatec. Unn brings 30 years of industry experience, having served roles ranging from Swedish localizer to engineering manager. Vistatec counts some of the largest organizations in the world among its clients.

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Date/Time

  • Date: May 16, 2019
  • Time: 9AM Pacific, Noon Eastern, 18:00 CEST
  • Duration: 45 minutes, plus audience Q&A

Who Should Attend

  • Development
  • Localization
  • QA
  • Vendor Partners
  • In-country Stakeholders

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Detect Software Issues Early Using Pseudo-localization

You’re releasing software in multiple languages for 6 markets. You get back your localized files and get ready for release. But now, at this late stage, you’ve discovered issues. Some of your interface is still in English. Perhaps dates are still showing up in a US-centric format? Perhaps the translations aren’t displaying properly because there isn’t enough space in the UI? Or, you’ve got square boxes and garbage characters that should be displaying in Japanese.

While you could find many of these issues during software development using Globalyzer (when it’s easy, fast and cheap to fix), it is still wise to have a global testing plan that includes pseudo-localization. You can test for localization support, and as a result, not have surprises after translation.

What is Pseudo-Localization?

Pseudo-localization is a technique that helps software development teams detect potential issues around user facing strings early on. Pseudo-localization transforms resource files written by developers and shows the transformed strings when a specific locale, the pseudo-locale, is passed to the application.

String Externalization

When developers write code for a global market, the strings need to be moved from the code into resource files. This process is called string externalization. If the strings are not externalized, they cannot be translated and a user looking at the application will always see the strings in the same way, with the locale set to German, French, or Japanese. Strings which are not externalized are called hard-coded strings.

For example, in some code using .ejs, if the string Family Tree is hard coded, setting the locale to French will still have “Family Tree” showing in the UI:

<span class=“visible-phone”>Family Tree</span>

Pseudo-Localization

If instead the string is externalized, it can be translated and setting the locale to French will show another string:

The .ejs file snippet:

<span class=“visible-phone”><%- i18n(‘FamilyTree’) %></span>

The corresponding .json resource file snippet in English:

FamilyTree: “Family Tree”,

The corresponding .json resource file snippet in French:

FamilyTree: “Arbre Familial”,

The UI set to French:

Pseudo-localization

Pseudo-Localization

When strings have been externalized into a resource file, they can be transformed for testing purposes independently of translation and that transformation can be shown in the UI using a pseudo-locale.

French is a typical ‘real’ locale: French users will most likely want to see the application in their language. The same is true for most regions, like Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, etc.

A pseudo-locale is a locale that is not a going to have many, if any, users. A typical pseudo-locale is Esperanto. Very few if any users will want to see an application in Esperanto so it makes it a good candidate for a pseudo-locale.

Using the previous ‘Family Tree’ example, here is a possible corresponding snippet in Esperanto:

FamilyTree: “[Ƒåɱîļý Ţŕéé—- П國カ]”,

When viewing the application in Esperanto, the banner will now look like:

Pseudo-localization

Why Pseudo-Localize?

The benefits of pseudo-localization are many, including:

  1. If the strings are displayed in pseudo-localized form, they have been externalized and can be translated.
  2. If the strings do not have any mojibake (corrupt characters), the user interface displays Unicode characters correctly.
  3. If QA can see the start and end character (here “[“ and “]”), the layout takes care of strings which will be longer when translated, say, in German.
  4. Pseudo-localization may also help identify concatenation issues, for instance when in what should be the same resource, the end and start characters appear multiple times.

When to Pseudo-Localize?

Pseudo-localization should be part of localization (L10n) automation. For instance, Lingoport Resource Manager, or LRM, automatically pseudo-localizes all resource files as they are modified or based on a frequency, such as twice a day.

This means that ‘someone’ does not have to think about it, ‘someone’ who may have other things to do such as coding an application.

Both Lingoport’s Globalyzer and Resource Manager support pseudo-localization. The former, helping developers unit test their work, the latter, on a continuous basis so that QA can always use pseudo-localization in their test criteria. It should be noted that pseudo-localization is a testing procedure, while using Globalyzer, particularly when it’s implemented within an IDE, helps avoid internationalization (i18n) issues as software is developed (and when it’s most efficient to fix). This includes i18n bugs beyond string-related issues. Even so, we always recommend implementing pseudo-localization as part of your software development practice.

Webinar: The New Game Changer for Agile Localization – InContext

Check out the recording of our webinar, “The New Game Changer for Agile Localization – InContext,” and learn how to gain speed and accuracy using an innovative approach to context for software localization through Lingoport InContext.

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The Most Requested Feature is Now Here

A critical software challenge is that translators get lists of words in files, but must make assumptions of the context for their translation work. Glossaries and translation memory help, but a picture is worth a thousand words.

Context increases accuracy, lowers the QA burden and increases agility.

In this webinar, we demonstrate how we bring visual context from the source code to the translator’s TMS view, then deliver translations back to the code. This adds speed and accuracy, without impacting development efforts.

This is one of the most requested features from our software customers over the years, and we’re thrilled to deliver it to you now with InContext.

A Repo-aware Tracking System with Visual Context

InContext

In this webinar, learn how you can automate in-context translation updates, with a repo-aware system tracking localization changes and providing visual rendering of new strings to the translator.

We present this webinar in tandem with special guest Larry Furr, VP of Product at Lingotek, developers of a leading cloud-based translation management system. In the webinar, we feature how context is moved into a TMS environment including the translator workbench.

Solving the Speed Issue of Software Localization

The key issue that holds back localization from keeping up with development is speed. The leading benefit of continuous localization is moving projects faster, in alignment with agile development. But we still have to translate, and despite all our translator tools, when it comes to complex software, the context of the translation has been a problem.

In continuous localization, U/I strings are sent in small batches, leaving the translator little context for a word or message. The translator might receive 16 words in one file, 32 in another, 6 in yet another, and so on. With words having so much nuance per language, you can understand that this is a tough challenge and a solution creates opportunity for improved global user experiences plus cost, time and hassle savings.

But there is no magic in software and that’s why this challenge remained for so many years. We’ve come up with an elegant solution, and we’ll show you how it works.

Like people say, a picture tells a thousand words.

Webinar Date/Time

  • Date: April 18, 2019
  • Time: 9am Pacific Time | 12pm Eastern Time | 18:00 CEST
  • Duration: 45 minutes, plus audience Q&A

Who Should Attend

  • Localization Managers
  • Product Managers
  • Globalization Leads
  • Localization Team Members

 

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New Webinar: Measuring Your Software Localization Process ROI

Return on Investment (ROI) is critical for the justification of business initiatives, as it strengthens an organization’s financial health and ensures more sustainable business success. The gap between localization (L10n) and development has been an ongoing pernicious complaint in the software industry for many years, and this gap has continually eroded returns for software organizations. 

Emphasis on agile and continuous development brings software users new functionality quickly, with controlled risk, faster execution, feedback and adaptation. L10n is performed to raise the appeal and competitiveness of software in any particular market. There should be alignment between L10n and development to maximize business results, yet why is it that the majority of software organizations are lacking in sophisticated internationalization (i18n) and L10n practices, systems, and technology to bridge the gap?

View our webinar “Measuring Your Software Localization Process ROI” to help your organization understand the underlying causes of increased time/costs in the software L10n process. Uncover how your L10n can keep pace with software development and help you achieve greater efficiency, cost savings and business returns.

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Special Guest

Darin GobleOur special guest on the webinar will be Darin Goble, Director, Client Solutions at Welocalize. With 20 years of experience in the localization industry, Darin has worked in production, engineering, solutions and management roles in four different services organizations and held technical and finance roles at Hewlett Packard. He has also served on the Project Management Institute’s board of directors for the Portland Oregon Chapter.

Welocalize

ROI Calculator

All webinar attendees were provided with access to an interactive ROI calculator that enables you to see your potential ROI gains through available software L10n automation.

Webinar Date/Time

  • Date: Wednesday, January 30th
  • Time: 9AM Pacific, Noon Eastern, 18:00 CET
  • Duration: 45 minutes, plus audience Q&A

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Take the 2019 Survey! The State of Continuous Internationalization & Localization

Today’s software is built using agile methodology, which is superior at getting new features out fast, in contrast with waterfall. Many in the industry have talked about making Internationalization (i18n) and Localization (L10n) continuous, automated and in step with agile.

Yet, in a Lingoport survey last year, it was obvious that the industry still has a long way to go. For example, merely 8% of respondents thought they did an excellent job at measuring and managing i18n requirements. One respondent summed up the reality of the situation: “We do agile development but waterfall localization.”

Following up from last year’s effort, we are conducting a new 2019 industry survey. To that end, we invite you to take the survey and let us know your company’s level of adoption of continuous i18n and L10n.

Take the 2019 Survey

powered by Typeform

The survey takes only 3 minutes. If you enter your email address, we’ll email you the results upon conclusion of the survey.

Plus, for each entry received we’ll donate US$2 to Translators Without Borders. So, please help us in accurately capturing the state of the industry while helping a good cause.

Fearlessly Leading Global Expansion [Webinar Transcription]

Today’s economy is increasingly borderless. Global transformation and expansion have become a key driver to company growth. Many industries, however, are not accounting for differences in business practices, culture, and language as they branch outward to different regions and countries.

With this background, check out Lingoport’s interview of Anna Schlegel, Head of Globalization at NetApp and Co-Founder and President of the Board of Women in Localization (4,000+ members), exploring smarter ways to go global and enable your brand to connect more deeply with local users. 

In this webinar recording, you’ll not only uncover what you need for a successful software globalization effort, but also key strategies for effective communication involving global teams, including everyone from executive management to remote team members around the world. Learn to avoid common mistakes and pitfalls that besiege many companies, and so much more. 

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Interested in reading the transcription instead of watching the webinar? Say no more! Check out excerpts from the webinar below.

Excerpt 1: “A True Veteran of Internationalization Localization” [00:00:00-00:10:24]

Adam Asnes

We’re fearlessly leading global expansion, a behind-the-scenes discussion with Anna Schlegel and her strategies for global transformation at NetApp. [We’re] very pleased to have Anna with us.

She does… just a fabulous job of escalating localization from a checkmark in many organizations, and a reactive activity, to a true strategy for moving forward, and changing the company’s global footprint.

So, a little bit about Anna. Anna, if you could just say hello, people will hear your voice.

Anna Schlegel

Hello everybody.

Adam Asnes

All right, good, good. Anna’s a true veteran of internationalization and localization. She has 20 years of experience in the industry in many different roles, at a lot of big companies you’ve heard of. She also authored the book, Truly Global: The Theory and Practice of Bringing Your Company to International Markets, and cofounded the 4,000 plus member association, Women in Localization.

A little bit about both: Anna’s book is short and to the point…it’s like a mini cheat sheet of everything she’s learned and concisely put together. So, I do invite you to go and get the book afterward.

Right, let’s get to the questions. The format of this webinar is I’m gonna ask a question, Anna’s gonna answer it and we’ll proceed. Each one of my slides has one to three questions. We’ll probably move ahead regularly, and then at the end, if you could submit your questions or even submit your questions during the webinar, I will take those questions at the end… we’re targeting to finish around half to the hour, whatever your timezone is, and then go into our Q&A period, which usually lasts about 10-15 minutes depending on how active.

So, we’re depending upon you to participate in that last section.

Right, Anna, let’s look at a now and then, kind of like a before and after. Can you describe for us the globalization perspective you see currently at NetApp compared to years ago?

Anna Schlegel

The globalization perspective of years ago… it’s night and day. The reason why I took the job is because I was the head of globalization at VMware at that time, and somebody…[asked] me, “You know what NetApp is?” I’m quite familiar with it, and I looked at the website… they wanted a French website, and I saw some Spanish on the French website…

[So I said,] “I’m taking the job.”

…[back then] there was very little thought on how NetApp was presenting itself or positioning itself globally. And today, it’s a sophisticated machine – one of the best teams in the world… it’s the dream, but it’s taken a long, long, long, long time. It’s night and day [from when I started there].

Adam Asnes

Anyway…so one of my favorite terms you have in your book is “Geo Alignment.” What do you mean by Geo Alignment?

Anna Schlegel

Geo Alignment is a term that we created in my team very quickly… 10 years ago.

So one of the first things that I noticed was… the headquarters. NetApp is a US company, thousands of employees… [I asked] “where are these thousands of employees? Who is driving the agenda here?” And I saw that most of the employees were in the United States, most of the employees driving the larger goals for the company were based in Sunnyvale at headquarters.

I did a mapping of…those goals that are coming about…themes or brand or marketing or product, [and asked] “How do they make it to the offices in Israel? Or the offices in Russia? Or the offices in Korea? How is that connection made?”

And I saw that it was broken at many stages.

And so we’re like, well, we have a Geo Alignment problem. We have a headquarter-to-country problem. And we started mapping how much information can you offer from an enterprise to the actual doers in the country offices, and we created a program we call Geo Alignment… we hired Geo Aligners. And so that right there made the localization team a globalization strategy team.

We opened so much business, we removed so many barriers, and then we tailored the amount of information that somebody at a small office would get, at a medium-sized office would get, or a large office would get.

You can’t treat every country the same; you have to treat them differently. There’s different team sizes; there’s different goals; some products do not resonate in a particular market; some products are encrypted; some products are not allowed; some products haven’t taken off.

When you map all of this, you run business really fast… you stop wasting your time in explaining things that do not resonate or are not relevant in the field. This is the concept of Geo Alignment.

Excerpt 2: “We hear everything. Everything.” [00:10:24-00:24:13]

Adam Asnes

Alright, very good. Moving ahead, what are the roles of key personnel on your team?

Anna Schlegel

We started with being a localization team, we moved to being a globalization team, and then we moved to being the global strategy for NetApp.

And so when you think about that, when you say, “I’m gonna form the global strategy for the company,” you don’t need project managers; you need strategies… and you need metrics people, and you need to dip into trends and analyses, and market trends, and country plans, and country managers…

And we don’t forget the fact that we are the translators, and we are the reviewers, and we are the internationalization engineers, and we are the machine translation experts. So, we have all those roles.

We have a small team of strategists. They’re the ones that look at the country plans for the country that we care about the most… they open up those country plans and they look at what are the products that these country managers want to sell, and that’s what we go and work on.

We have all the typical, traditional roles, from a product lead that does all the product globalization, where we do the internationalization of the product; the localization of the product; the technical publication… that’s one team. We do have a head of localization that: she manages the localization operation… [and] the large millions of volume that we pass as well.

We do have content strategists, because we are very concerned and very passionate about the health of content. [They ask,] “How was it authored? Are the taxonomies proper? “Is the search engine grabbing the right key words?”

So we participate a lot in content strategies. We… [also] have an operations team: we have a chief of staff that has a small team that does communications, that does all the invoicing, all the vendor relationship, all the QVR’s; and then we have a futurist… a globalization architect that roams around the country looking at…the data cloud services, data services bit. [This team asks,] “How are we going to be delivering our product: via the cloud, or more of the traditional storage security systems there?”

So those are some of the main leads. The other thing that we do that has been the best thing we’ve done in a long time is we united the globalization team with the content strategy team for the company – so now I’m very lucky to run globalization and content strategy. And once you have content strategy, you can influence… [the] content that we write…[the] types of content that we write…we influence that.

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Adam Asnes

Very good. So you’re proactive, not just reactively translating. Alright, very good. I’m gonna keep moving along: we could stay on this subject a long time.

How do you garner market information?

Anna Schlegel

We do a few things. So we read… papers, we open country plans, and we run anything that the company does to stay close to their customer…we’re there.

So if [for example] there’s a major… customer conference,… we have a booth there; we talk; we do surveys; we get a lot of responses through that process… [whether] online or in person, we are always there.

We’re constantly grabbing what the market needs, what the customer needs, and we rely a lot on the country managers. It’s that Geo Alignment…

Adam Asnes

That’s no shortage of work, to get worldwide opinion flowing towards you. That’s pretty cool.

Anna Schlegel

Yeah, it is very well organized, so there’s a process for that. It’s not that I pick up the phone whenever I feel like it, [like] “Hey, how’s it going in France?” No, we have the right team… we create small tiger teams that we call Champion teams that gather market information for every single department that we support.

Adam Asnes

Alright, very good. I’m gonna move on to the next slide which is a pretty loaded single question, right?

Let’s talk about the stakeholders at NetApp, and the objections you hear, and how you work with then.

Anna Schlegel

The objections I hear come from…up and down the chain, so it comes from the highest executives to individual contributors that are working at a project level. And the list is very long: there is no money; there is no mandate; how do you know; who are you; what’s your title; how long have you been at NetApp; people understand English in Japan; I don’t have money; my boss has never said anything about this; what is internationalization; or we are in other countries?

We hear everything. Everything.

So the way to confront these objections is: we are so well prepared. We’re so well prepared with the analysis and the data, and I don’t let just anybody represent the team. I mean we have very specific people in my team that go and fight those battles, and we preload and we train and we prepare…

Adam Asnes

Right. Well, I do wanna emphasize that in our position, we have seen that it’s one thing when a company has a commercial product… it’s sometimes a little easier to get a localization program in place. But when a product is technical, like NetApp products are, one of the pushbacks that we see in a lot of customers is, “We don’t have to translate because all of our customers speak English because they have to.” What would you say to that as a sample objection?

Anna Schlegel

Sure. So we have the data on English tolerance for our product type. We have a lot of competitive analysis also, so we know what are the equivalent products to ours. And we know if they’ve been globalized or not. We talk a lot with the channel also, so channel partners in Japan, China. We are a vendor. We are a vendor to major organizations like the Chinese government…

…So, we know the English tolerance, we know in what situations that’s true and what situations it’s not true, so we’re very careful… We study what products we need to globalize and what products we don’t need to globalize.

Again, we are in the data storage business… we need to be very careful with language tolerance. We are dealing with highly trained engineers around the world. But it’s very different if you’re dealing with a business in Beijing than if you’re trying to sell something into a remote province of a third tier, fourth tier city, you do need to be localized.

And to that point, we just globalize the product, period. Because it’s just gonna reach a much larger pool of people…

Adam Asnes

Okay. So make sure the product is internationalized and you’re ready and, go ahead.

Anna Schlegel

Yeah, I mean product internationalization is just the most basic thing you have to do, so that’s number one. And then you do a study of language tolerance for your product, and then you pick your countries. And it’s very different, you need to have a language map for all these departments you’re supporting. It’s not the same language; it doesn’t have to be the same language.

Excerpt 3: “Luck Meets the Well Prepared”- [00:24:57-00:34:25]

Anna Schlegel

How do we target countries? So, we target countries by understanding their companies, so we are very well aligned with the general managers for APAC, for EMEA, for the Americas. And then we all have specific budgets, so you put your eggs in several areas and not in other places, right? So again, we target the country differently, we target the countries through a reciprocal process of annual grading plan, where we know exactly what are the countries where we’re gonna globalize for what languages.

The second question, “what local data do you measure for executive and stakeholder review” – so we have this mapping because we serve 14 departments and each department tackles different languages…we line up to 14 executives, and so we’re constantly presenting this to the 14 groups through these little champion teams or tiger teams that I was explaining before.

And so we talk about the good, the bad, the average, the opportunity, and that’s how we keep tracks with the executives.

Adam Asnes

Very good… now we get into helping people: the general attributes. What are some of the key personnel attributes you look for on your globalization team?

Anna Schlegel

Do you know the word “Grit”? Grit, G-R-I-T? That’s what we’re looking for. So it, it’s tough, right? I mean, we are in the Silicon Valley where many, many companies are offshoring, outsourcing, looking for lower cost solutions. And we, I think the globalization team were in 20 or 22 different countries. So the key attribute is patience, is continuous learning, is shake it out, don’t be afraid, you know, step up, lead.

We make everybody lead a major program or project, so we spend a lot of time training on how to lead something that they have in their head that will go to our mission. So trainable. I’m very passionate and very on top of some specific things, so people that don’t shy away from very open conversation; we do a lot of candor, we do a lot of, how are we gonna talk to each other, so we do a lot of values training also.

Teamwork. People that can work really well in a team, is very important-

Adam Asnes

Good. This is really great. I wrote down patience, continuous learning, shake it up, trainable, passionate, open conversations, values teamwork. Very good.

So looking back on your career, what might you have done a little differently knowing what you know now?

Anna Schlegel

I remember when I started, I was always the pain in the butt in the meetings, saying, well, “You haven’t thought about localization.” And I know that I used to be the pain in the room, like, “Well this doesn’t look like this is globalized or internationalized, or why haven’t you done this, or you don’t know better,” I used to be a bit of a smartass person years ago, and I don’t think that helped me.

What I learned was it was much better to listen and then go and ask after the meeting, or tackle this very difficult conversation, ’cause they’re usually about somebody wasn’t thinking in the proper, or somebody doesn’t know what they don’t know. So going after the meeting, maybe, to ask about globalization plans and sitting one-on-one, rather than putting people and evidence in big large rooms, because I think I made a lot of people feel very uncomfortable.

But that’s something I learned, and then, so having these more strategic conversations outside of the major forums is better, is much better. That way you create the relationship with the person to say, “Hey, you know, do you understand what localization is, what we do? Have you ever thought about how this will resonate in Korea?” You know, that.

View i18n Webinar Recording

Adam Asnes

Okay, very good. And any particular advice? I mean you’ve got this incredible machine going, but there’s people on this call that don’t, necessarily, and are just getting started. What advice might you give to people starting out in globalization leadership?

Anna Schlegel

So number one, be very patient. When I started at NetApp, I was one person. You need to be very patient, you need to be very brave; very brave. The way I went from one person to many is I decided to come up with the 12th session task force, I called it a task force, and I went to grab different people from different teams, I’m like, would you help me figure this globalization thing out?

…I would say ask your vendors for help, to strategize. You can have your vendors if you’re on your own or it’s a very small team, you can put a vendor day, you can put a globalization day, your vendors will help you. Even if you’re on your own.

There are people out there who can help you look bigger or amplify what you want to do. The other thing I would say: Join forums… If you don’t belong to a forum, you should join one, because you’re gonna find the people like the way I found Adam, right?

And so you start creating these networks, and Adam is who taught me about internationalization, so you need to network. Networking would be something very important.

And the other thing I would say if you’re a localization manager just with a band of one or two or three is to start creating some sort of awareness, so maybe you create a monthly newsletter or a quarterly newsletter. There’s so much information out there, that you can start parsing that out or mailing that out through the company as a subscription model and see who would be interested.

So thinking, what are the things that you can do, when you start moving those engines, things start to happen. Luck meets the well prepared, so sitting alone and just sending products to the localization vendor is not healthy if you wanna move from localization to globalization.

Adam Asnes

“Luck meets the well prepared”- very good.

Excerpt 4: Q/A Session [00:34:29-00:44:28]

Adam Asnes

Alright, so we’re into the QA part of our presentation. We have a couple of questions already, which is great, which I’ll read off, and we’ll continue on…

Our first question here is from Gary: what are the top three questions you ask a new product team or business unit?

Anna Schlegel

A new product team, I ask who’s the development manager, who’s the release manager, and who’s the executive.

And then you have a conversation with them, and some of the first questions can be, “Have you ever thought of going global?” Many, many times, the product teams are formed by excellent developers or QA leads that have done this in other companies, maybe they’re not doing this in your company, so one of the questions would be, “Did you do this at IBM? Did you do this at VMware?” One of the questions I ask is “Where did you work before?”

But you want to find the right people, and you want to start having the conversation. Some other way of looking at this is, can I look at the business requirements? Because many, many times, the product managers are working through business requirements, and so you need- it’s almost like pulling a thread of like, who didn’t put the right business requirement for the product to go global? Maybe it was product marketing, or there’s so many disconnects, again, that Geo Alignment of doing the detective work of who didn’t put the right requirements, why did they think that placing this product in Japan is not a good idea?

It might be because it is not a good idea, but you need to find out if the product is in the country manager’s plan.

And so that’s why you wanna prepare before you go to these product teams, just say like, “Hey, have you realized that there is a lot of action around this particular product in China, or in Japan, or in Italy, wherever.”

Adam Asnes

Really good. Alright, I should move us on to the next question, we have quite a few here: Jack…said globalization is going through growing pains…What is your take on this?

Anna Schlegel

It’s very true! So for example, Jack, I travel a lot to China, so many, many Chinese companies are trying to [go] global and they don’t know how to, so that would be one thing. The other thing that I would say is many are looking for US companies to help them with joint ventures or EM partnerships to get in to a particular country like the states. You have a lot of nationalistic spirit popping through, a lot of countries tightening borders, and so that’s part of what he’s talking about: entering countries is very complicated. You have the government in between, they might wanna tax you higher, they might wanna put impediments into the global trade compliance; I mean, there’s so many issues around global trade compliance, and you constantly need to be looking at new tax laws. Is it worth it to put a product in a country that’s gonna give you low revenue?

So that’s why you need to be very, very careful into where you’re putting your product. What are the countries, and you need your legal teams, and you need your global trade compliance teams lined up. Just localizing to localize is not a good strategy any more.

Adam Asnes

Right. Gotcha.

What do you say are your current biggest challenges when it comes to the way forward with globalization in the near future?

Anna Schlegel

The rapid growth of data, the way that artificial intelligence is offering very quick response back into vertical access. So how are we gonna be able to keep up with the decision making process of, data’s coming in very quickly through artificial intelligence where you used to have dozens of analysts trying to figure a particular problem, you can figure it out in seconds with something like IBM Watson.

So how are you able to react to that is gonna be the advantage of any company. And so how fast you can globalize that, how fast can you put it on digital, you know the digital transformation, the access to data and information, that is, I think, the next frontier here.

Adam Asnes

Alright, so I’m gonna call it good here; we’re at the end of our time. Thank you very much, Anna, this was really a special webinar for me to hear this strategic view. I think this is really a beautiful thing, because we work with a lot of companies around the world, and they are really struggling to get where you are now.

So clearly you’ve had a vision for this that you’ve realized, but there’s as you’ve said, luck meets the well prepared, you’ve really done your work over the years. It hasn’t been instant. And I think that comes through. Again, everybody, if you don’t have it, go and buy a copy of Truly Global; it’s well worth the read, and find some people to network with and mentor and help you, whether you’re on top of the world or just getting into it, there’s always a place for that…

Again, thank you Anna, and to everyone who joined us, thank you for joining us; the recording will be available shortly, it usually just takes us a few days, and you’ll get a notice about it.

Take care everyone!

Anna Schlegel

And thank you, Adam! Thank you.

Adam Asnes

Alright, bye bye!

Anna Schlegel

Bye bye everybody.

Technology for Better Global Collaboration

 

The State of the Internationalization & Localization Industry [Webinar Transcription]

Globalization is becoming an integral part of how business gets done. So naturally, there’s been lots of talk of continuous globalization in software development. However, there’s a clear gap between what people say about the current state of continuous globalization, and where people would ideally like their organizations to be.

Lingoport wanted to uncover the reality and so launched The State of Continuous Internationalization and Localization Survey to identify the actual state of the industry.

Watch Lingoport’s Adam Asnes and Nimdzi’s Renato Beninatto webinar recording, sharing insights from the survey results on where the future is taking us.

In this recording you’ll not only uncover the leading globalization opportunities in the market today, but also effective approaches to leading globalization at a growing enterprise, the ideal role of globalization vendor partners, and much more.

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Interested in reading the transcription instead of watching the webinar? No problem, we’ve got you covered. Check out excerpts from the webinar below.

Excerpt 1: Introduction [00:00:00 – 10:00:00]

Adam Asnes: 

This is Adam Asnes at Lingoport… with Renato Beninatto. We’re going to be discussing a survey that we gave, briefly, and then we will also be getting into ten questions with Renato. I’ll be making all introductions and going through this.

…Renato Beninatto has really had quite a career within the industry and it’s very exciting. He’s been on the executive teams; [like] many of you … of many large localization companies. He’s run his own localization company, he’s been a consultant in the industry, he’s been a marketing executive, he’s been a sales executive… [Renato] specializes in making companies successful in global markets, and in starting businesses that span across boards.

…So, we had this survey in December and January of this year to look and find out, what is the state of continuous globalization? There’s been lots of talk of continuous globalization, and honestly there’s a gap between what people say about the current vision of continuous globalization, and where people would like to be. And we wanted to really focus on that in our survey, to understand that.

[We found there]… is a very commonly reported disconnect with developers, management, and localization teams. There is a leadership recognition issue of getting management to understand, and perhaps a leadership gap within the localization industry itself… Very clearly there were budget woes reported in terms of getting enough money to do what people wanted to do…

So, there’s kind of good news and bad news. The bad news is there’s a long way to go, the good news is people are really interested in going there.

Alright now, on to our live guest. I don’t want to short change Renato with time. Renato!

Excerpt 2: Localization and Company Success Predictors [00:10:00-00:20:00]

Renato Beninatto:

Hi!

Adam Asnes:

Hi! Alright, very good. Tell us about your latest venture, Nimdzi. What is it, who are you serving, and how are you helping? That’s a big single question.

Renato Beninatto:

Yeah, well then I’ll keep it short. We are doing market research and analysis in this space. It’s my second venture in this area. I started a company called Common Sense Advisory, that some of you know, and… after going through ten years away from this space, I thought that there was room for a new look at how you share information and you gather information about the space.

The work that you did, the kind of survey that you did, is a fantastic job and actually I went through the analysis that was done, and I’m not surprised. I mean, one of the conclusions that you can take from the study that you have is that there’s a lot of room for growth, improvement, and development. The thing that has changed is that, with the proliferation of technologies and the changes in processes that have happened, you have created more confusion and decision making becomes harder. So, there is a role for independent consultants, independent analysts in this space to help organizations run and make decisions that are not only based on marketing materials from the suppliers…

So, I wrote this book, The General Theory of the Translation Company, which looks at how LSP’s provide their services and how they create value for the clients. The key, the central theme of the book is the value creation: what are the activities inside an organization that create value for the final client? It’s a book that is designed for everybody in the industry. If buyers, publishers, end users of translation optimization want to understand how the process works, they have that formally there. If translators who are at the other end of the process want to know how the sausage factory works, that’s what the book provides.

So, we work mostly with end clients, providing them guidance and helping their decision process.

Adam Asnes:

[Is there] a common theme in localization [that] involves justifying the business case to upper management?

Renato Beninatto:

The answer is no… the reality is that unless the organization, the upper management as you call [it], has decided to go global and have an international presence, making the case and building it from the bottom up is still very hard. And there is one reason for that: it’s that translation and localization are afterthoughts. They are really something that is seldom designed into the product or the service, and usually the person… and we have organizations here at different levels of experience and maturity. But in a traditional organization, somebody is picked.

I like to tell this story. When I was a tax consultant at Arthur Anderson in one of my first jobs in my career, very early on, my boss came to me one day and asked, Renato, how do you come to work? I said, I take the bus. Good, [he said], you’re a transportation expert. Maybe localization people in the industry aren’t just people that speak a foreign language; they are part of the organization and they take upon themselves this initiative to build a globalization practice in their organization, or somebody tells them, oh because you speak a foreign language, you are the expert in this space.

Adam Asnes:

What are some of the success predictors for companies entering new markets?

Renato Beninatto:

Okay, this is an interesting conversation point. Everybody wants to have a secret recipe of how do I become successful going into a new market. And this is case by case, product by product. It’s very different if you are a consumer product [or] if you are an enterprise product and there are many facets to that process. But, some things that all successful companies have in common is, first, they literally speak the language of the local market. Having a local partner or a local consultant or somebody that gives you local insights about the country that you’re trying to enter will always give you an advantage, [even] for the silliest things…

One of the studies that we have done recently is about global payments: getting paid in different markets is an issue for almost every company. How do people prefer to pay for goods and services. A credit card is not as widespread outside of the United States as it is in the United States. So even though eCommerce is present everywhere, if you’re in China, if you’re going to China and you don’t have an Alipay, you’re probably not going to be successful in selling your product online. So a partnership with a local expert or a local insider is always good. Another predictor is using research, understanding what is the landscape in the market, if there are products that are similar to yours and how do you stack against those products. This is also an important thing. We’re going to talk later about the risk of copycats and things like that.

Excerpt 3: Localization Opportunities and Globalization Initiatives [00:20:00-00:32:00]

Adam Asnes:

What are some of the leading localization opportunities that you are hearing about?

Renato Beninatto:

[The] market of language services is pervasive. Every human activity, every business activity in the world requires some sort of translation or localization. People prefer to consume their products in their local language. That’s an axiom, it goes without saying. So the opportunities that are growing have to do with areas of the economy that have growth because translation and localization is not an end activity in itself, it follows other business activities and it’s a consequential activity, not an end activity. So I would say the areas that you would see this in the performance of the LSPs in certain verticals, there are certain areas that have much higher growth than others. So if you look at things like entertainment, gaming, multi-media, and regulated industries like life sciences, the financial sector, now there is a big boom… These regulated areas are huge opportunities for growth. This is where growth is happening.

The localization industry doesn’t grow in a uniform way. It grows at different speeds in different markets at different times. So if you look at, for example, eCommerce, that’s a segment that is pretty much stagnant and it’s very prone to automation. So there is an increasing volume of it but not necessarily an increasing revenue in that area. So I would say all the big areas where you see manufacturing in other areas that is not taking off, it’s essentially a stagnant market. If you look at the cost of goods in the economy, they tend to be flat or actually going down. And that reflects in the expenditure that companies have for their translations and localizations. So I think that the leading areas are the ones related to entertainment. I like to call one of the big shocks that we have in the last two years in the language business is the Netflix affect. The fact that Netflix decided overnight to go into 100 countries and you started to have a shortage of translators for video subtitling and dubbing in 26 languages that they started using. Look where the economy is going and the growing companies in the space, and this is where opportunity lies.

Adam Asnes:

I’m gonna add that we’ve seen an uptick in companies engaging with us and our software not in the U.S., writing software in their own, for instance, Chinese – all their strings are in Chinese, but now they’re looking to reach other markets which aren’t just the U.S. So we’re seeing it go the other way.

Renato Beninatto:

Absolutely… I actually go frequently to China, I love that country, and I love the market. I was there recently in October of last year with a friend, and she was saying that she thought that the West was more advanced than Asia and when she arrived in Shanghai said, “Oh my god, I’m living in the future. This is the future.” China in many aspects is much, much ahead of the United States and even Europe in many, many areas. But the thing about China is that the Chinese large organizations, Ali Baba, Baidu, and companies like that, they still have so much room for growth in their local market that they are not necessarily focusing on growing into the international markets. Their international expansion is very small compared to the giants here in the United States and Europe. When they decide to go internationally, then we’re going to see a really, really big uptake in this business. Tell your kids to learn Chinese!

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Adam Asnes:

All right. Are companies taking global user experience for granted or are they understanding it’s not only about translating?

Renato Beninatto:

It’s very hard to answer a question that starts with “are companies” because companies are very different. What I can say is that user experience has been a topic that has gained traction in the last, I don’t know, eight, nine, 10 years. Mostly because of the development of mobile technologies. So user experience, it used to be an after thought and it’s become really an important part of software design and development. Companies… [generally] have a chief user experience officer and are really looking at how customers interact with their technology. But the key element driving this is the mobile revolution. As they say, the future is mobile, the future is Android, IOS has a very small percentage of the market besides the North Atlantic area. In the case of mobile, text comes less important and it’s all about motions and minimal viable content. You can say a lot more with a button then you would say with words.

I think that it’s become very important but that depends a lot of the maturity of the company that depends a lot on how the relationship goes. One of the things that I would say is that user experience is very, very different in [inaudible 00:27:19] markets. If you look at Japan, China, and Holland for example, you can launch a product in Holland or in Scandinavia in English and you wouldn’t notice much loss in opportunity there. But if you go to China where more than 90 percent … It’s a mono legal country, more than 90 percent of the country doesn’t speak English. You need to have a unique experience there. You need to understand that everything goes through WeChat, everything goes through search environment, Baidu and Ali Baba and all those big environments there. If you go to Japan, most of the world uses WhatsApp, China uses WeChat, Japan uses Line and Korea also uses Line. These are … Business environments that are not even taken into consideration in many cases… It’s not only about translating, it’s definitely understanding how people consume information in the local markets and what are the platforms that they prefer and your user experience needs to match that experience.

Adam Asnes:

…If you were leading globalization at an enterprise that is expanding it’s globalization emphasis, what sort of initiatives would you consider?

Renato Beninatto:

First of all, I would be aware of the copycat effect. If you launch a business or a product in the United States, you don’t have the privilege of having a captive market and waiting until your product is mature to go to other markets. There are businesses in Europe, a company Rocket Internet and plenty of businesses in Asia whose business model is essentially “Look what is going on in the United States, what new products are taking off, let’s copy that model and launch it here locally and create our brand before this American brand comes over”. And this is a real threat. This is something that you need to be aware of. If you don’t globalize from the beginning, if you don’t launch your product locally, you will suffer from the copycat effect.

The other initiative that companies should consider involves diversity – having diverse leadership and input from executive level staff from different areas of the world. They say one of the sins of diversity is that a diverse group is smarter than a smart group because diversity brings different insights and brings different outlooks on things. And I think that GE and Cisco have led with initiatives like this where they have appointed chief globalization officers from different countries, living in different countries to participate at board level and top management levels in their companies. So these are the things that if you really want to, there is a big different between being a multi-national company, being an international company, and being a global company. If you really want to be global, you have to act as a global company.

Excerpt 4: Globalization Vendors and Vendor Services [00:32:00-00:42:30]

Adam Asnes:

What is the ideal role of globalization vendor partners?

Renato Beninatto:

I think that what a globalization partner, and partner is the key word here, the biggest value that a partner gives to a client is allowing their buyer to have a good night’s sleep. The role of the globalization vendor is to deal with everything that is transactional, that is operational, that is procedural, and let the client representative, their direct contact on the client’s side deal with strategic and internal elements of the globalization process. Today, there are very mature suppliers that can handle all the needs of a big organization. One of the trends that I’ve seen in the last four, five years is for the very mature companies, the top companies in the world, they have realized that the traditional approach of working with two, three, four vendors at the same time and splitting work among them by language or by volume was actually creating a backlash. And companies are moving more to a single-sourcing model because the vendors are financially stable, and organizationally mature enough to be ready to deliver all the activities related to globalization as an outsource service.

So at a very high end, the size of internal departments is shrinking, and more is being outsourced just as in other areas that are not core competencies in organizations… like customer support and first level support. Things that can be outsourced are outsourced so that companies can focus on the things that really generate revenue for them. So the ideal role of a good globalization partner is not to surprise their clients, is to give them, like I said, a good night’s sleep and take all the monkeys off their shoulders so that they can focus on things and grow internally as executives in the organization.

Adam Asnes:

You’ve acknowledged that Translation Memory is old technology at this point. What do you see as up and coming?

Renato Beninatto:

Okay, it’s so funny that about 10 years ago I said that Translation Memory in five years, Translation Memory was going to become free or irrelevant. And I think that we’re there. You have tools online, you have Omega T, which is open source, you have MateCat, another open source tool. You can even use Google Translator Tool Kit as a free translation memory tool that anybody can use in the market. The big topic in our industry is neuro machine translation but I don’t think that that is the most relevant thing from a localization process point of view. What is up and coming are solutions similar to what Lingoport provides, and there are other providers in the marketplace that do that. What is up and coming and what differentiates companies is the ability to integrate with any other tool that affects the localization process.

The technology today, as always, the role of technology is to automate repetitive manual tasks. You will hear people saying, “Well, but when will this stop?”. It will never stop because every automation creates a new process and that new process after a few months or years is ready for being automated also. And I’ve been seeing this happen over and over and over again. So Translation Memory today is a feature. It’s something that is there. I wouldn’t be surprised if in a few more years Translation Memory is not even mentioned, [or] taken for granted. I think it’s old and what is up and coming is processed more than language processing.

Adam Asnes:

There’s been an emphasis on TMS and CAT tools being synonymous with technology in our industry. I always look at that and say this requires expertise on the part of the customer. When should customers actually consider such technologies versus vendor services?

Renato Beninatto:

I think that this is a great question, Adam, because this talks to the total cost of ownership aspect… how many companies and many of the participants in this webinar are certainly still working on Idiom platforms. Idiom was a decision that was made 15, 20 years ago. This was implemented, it was integrated, it’s part of the development process, and it’s very hard to break away from that. I see in the engagements that I have with clients that many of them are trying to get out of that technology that was developed in, I don’t know, Windows XP environment or Vista. I don’t know what it was, to something that is more agile and flexible. Because all the other technologies are changing.

Like I said before, I think that the winning companies and the winning technologies moving forward will be the ones that can easily integrate into processes. It’s this API economy concept that allows organizations on the go to switch technologies easily based on their ease of integration with other tools.

We need to be realistic and understand that globalization technology is not a top priority for any CIO. They are not going to stop selecting an ERP system or a content management system for the whole enterprise because it doesn’t have localization features. It’s always going to be an afterthought. And the few times when that happens it’s a long process and takes a long time.

I personally believe that because I am a service kind of person and I believe more in service than technology because technology will change. I mean, the technology that we will be using and talking about 10 years from now has nothing to do with the technologies that we’re dealing with today. I mean, Google didn’t exist 15 years ago when we were working in translation and localization, and today it’s an integral part of anything that we do… it’s better to select in an enterprise environment, to select a vendor that can solve the localization problem to the client as a black box. What is the technology that they use in the background doesn’t really matter as long as the process is transparent? I know that you have a solution at Lingoport and there are many suppliers in the industry that have this solution that detects changes in the source content and triggers a localization process when the change happens. And that automation based on machine learning and monitoring will win over time.

So if I had to choose what technology or TMS … and the point is and it’s part of your question, very seldom people consider that to make a decision based on the technology will require somebody to manage and to be trained and to be involved in that technology on a regular basis. So this is more staff, this is more people to manage when you really want to have this process as automated and as carefree as possible.

I like to say as long as we have control of your content and you manage the transition. It’s like they say, you have to talk about divorce before you get married. If you secure that you can move and change vendors seamlessly from the beginning of your relationship, you will be safe engaging in a relationship with a stable supplier.

…If I were going to buy a localization today, I would buy it as a service, not as a product.

Excerpt 5: Business Models and The Voice Experience [00:43:00-56:17]

Adam Asnes:

How do you see using technology to connect all developers, marketing teams, localization teams, in country offices and even vendors in globalization teamwork?

Renato Beninatto:

I think that that’s the role of technology in our space. That’s really the value that technology brings. It’s essentially automating processes in making it seamless inside the organization. A global organization will be working in 10 different time zones and you cannot have a single point of failure in an individual in one location. [If] that person is not there to send the email… everything will be delayed.

Like you mentioned in your survey, the majority of companies are… not working in an automated way. So I think that using good technology, using cloud-based solutions that integrate all the different functions that are involved in localization is the way to go. Talk to the people that are doing that kind of stuff because ultimately, what you want … and this would be my last comment. I think that the trend that we want to see is for companies to move from managing activities to managing exceptions.

Once everything that is repetitive is automated, you start being responsible only for looking at the thing that didn’t work. You only look at the things that are outside of the traditional process. Tasks that are repetitive and predictable, they can totally be automated. Your span of control and your capacity of managing automated processes increases significantly because you only work at that flashing red light or yellow light, “Hey, we have a problem here. We have somebody that hasn’t picked up this project in half an hour. Maybe we need a human to interfere here.” And you take away the traditional. There are some areas that are very prone to this type of automation like vendor management, like content detection, and things like that.

Adam Asnes:

Right. Right. Right… All right. So I’m going to open this up for questions from the audiences… I’m going to start with our friend, Alexander. Both of us know him very well.

All right. In software development and continuous delivery, it just doesn’t make sense both for the buyer and for the provider to pay the fixed per-word rate for translating only a handful of words at every spread. How will translations earn money and add value in the future? What do you think about the per-word rates versus per-hourly rates of flat fees and minimum fees?

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Renato Beninatto:

This is a business negotiation discussion. The per-word rate is a very simple traditional way that we have been using in this space. And at the end of the day, everybody’s going to convert that to a certain metric and to define, oh, is this good enough or not enough for me.

The reality is that per word, per hour, per minute, per comma, per paragraph, per line as in German, these are ways to measure effort. I’ve seen multiple attempts and models to solve this discussion. I think there is a right way. There is the way that to negotiate and whatever you negotiate that is accepted by the parties is a good deal. The moment it starts being a good deal, you will start seeing a decrease in the performance and it’s time to negotiate again. I think that in the sprint and agile model a per-hour rate or a weekly metric you decide to use to pay for the availability of the resources is fair.

Adam Asnes:

All right, other questions here. You mentioned single sourcing. That seems like both a sales challenge for vendors to break in in large companies as well as a vulnerability on the vendor side because if the vendor is wrapped around say two or three customers that end up making up most of their company business, that actually destabilizes those vendors a little bit. What do you have to say about that situation?

Renato Beninatto:

So I’ve been involved in three situations where clients have moved from multiple vendors to single vendors. And the points that are raised are fair but they’re no different and maybe even easier than to… three or four different vendors. Now, some organization will have eight vendors but they will single source certain areas of the business. So one company will give all the consumer products to one vendor and all the enterprise products to other vendors. Another company will have three or four divisions and they will work with two vendors and split the process because these are divisions that have different processes and different ways to address the problem.

Definitely and what we have seen is that the risk, there is a risk, but it’s lower than having to handle [multiple vendors]. So, in one of the organizations that I was involved, the internal organization had over 100 employees in the localization department. And after the single sourcing decision, this group went down to five people because all those other 95 functions were handled by the single vendor that was doing that. So that single sourcing approach makes the vendor become like a department of the client.

There’s always risks, and you have to evaluate what they are, but you need to have a certain level of maturity from the vendor and the buyer, also.

Adam Asnes:

All right. I have a question here. [As a] leading opportunity, you mentioned the voice experience. What are the challenges that you see or how you think it can affect the industry?

Renato Beninatto:

The voice space is very interesting because that’s the hardest one to automate. There are attempts and there is a lot of pretty good artificial voice that’s available in the market but for the entertainment market, it’s still the artistic element is the one that is hardest to automate. So some companies in this space, the ones that are working with the film distributors, with Netflix, with Disney, Pixar and so on, they are actually investing in this high margin niche of voiceovers. Because of this, they believe are the ones that are going to be the last frontier in automation, that the content can be machine translated but the interpretation needs to be human. That’s another dimension that you can look at as part of the opportunity. It’s a kind of a protection from automation.

The State of Continuous i18n & L10n Survey Results

Phasing Software i18n and L10n: What’s Right for Your Company?

Going global is a big step. Moving from the massive challenge of getting a company off the ground and past the initial challenge of proving that your idea can work has already put your company in a league beyond most.

Aside from incidental web traffic and interest from new countries and regions, for many companies, going global means setting up partnerships, offices and agents. For software, it also means internationalizing and localizing software so that it’s competitive and meets sales requirements. Internationalization (i18n) of your software is a business case driven undertaking, in response to opportunities and strategy. It is not like a feature that you might add in a sprint or two.

That said, all global targets are not equal in terms of technical requirements. This post gives you a brief overview of stages of software i18n and localization (L10n) and what opportunities each may open for your company. It’s not intended as a technical resource, but more as a primer for product and localization managers.

The Basics

Venice, Italy

  • Internationalization, often abbreviated as i18n (i – then 18 letters – n), is the process of making a single code base locale-independent so the application can be easily localized to other locales with no source code changes.
  • Localization, often abbreviated as L10n (L– then 10 letters– n), is the translation and application of locale-specific terms and style so that a product is locale-specific – that is, it looks and reads like a product native to the market in which it is being sold.
  • Globalization, sometimes abbreviated as g11n (g– then 11 letters– n), includes both internationalization and localization together and often refers to the entire process of supporting other locales.
  • A locale in computing is a set of parameters that defines the user’s language, region and any special variant preferences that the user wants to see in their user interface. Usually a locale identifier consists of at least a language identifier and a region identifier. Consider that in both the US and the UK, the typical language is English, but other parameters such as date format, temperature and even some spelling is different.

Why Wasn’t It Internationalized in the First Place?

Venice, Italy

In a perfect world, all products would be created with i18n as a fundamental requirement from the start. But often with new product development, teams are just trying to make a product work and see if there’s a response. The initial focus is on relevance and acceptance of the application. Follow-on efforts are feature focused. I18n isn’t really like a feature, as its requirements underpin an entire application.

As mentioned above, going back and internationalizing code requires a business case. It takes time and will distract the development team from new features. There are times when products are rewritten, which is an excellent window to spend some effort on internationalization. In many cases i18n is a good opportunity for outsourcing, bringing in i18n expertise that allows your team to focus elsewhere, while still learning from the experts to ensure that future development will be internationalized. Expert help enables you to implement i18n faster with greater quality and less project risk.

Although people often think i18n is just about string externalization and the resulting localization, there is much more involved. There are locale frameworks that will govern locale behavior, methods/functions/classes that may need to be changed, static files to alter, and even hard coded patterns (e.g. a hard coded font) that may need fixing. Issues like date/time, address, phone number, numerical and measurement formats will have to adapt to local preferences. You’ll need character support, sorting changes and more. String externalization is like the visible part of an iceberg. You see it, but there’s much more below the surface.

Consumer Facing Software

Vernazza, Italy

It’s easy to see how consumer facing software has a higher requirement for i18n and L10n if it’s to gain broad acceptance, even in markets where English is more common.

That said, we do hear the argument that English is commonly used and understood in many places. Remember, if you travel to major cities in Europe, you’ll find that you can get along with English pretty well. But in terms of product preferences, people typically prefer engaging in their own languages. As you get out of major cities, you’ll find less English proficiency. Even with English (which English?) you still have formatting issues as mentioned, like decimal and comma placement in numbers.

Technical Software

Internationalization Phases

We see the “English everywhere” argument even more with technical software. To an extent, if your users are technical (i.e., system administrators), you can use English in more markets. But you’ll fall flat in Asia Pacific countries, such as Japan, Korea and China.

Below is a broad summary of i18n phases or levels which can be applied depending upon the business case. The best is to be global ready for everywhere of course.

Unicode

If your targets are in Western European languages (i.e. French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese and more), you won’t need Unicode support in your application. That said, if you’re working on i18n, I like to recommend that people take on Unicode as early as possible. Most every modern database and programming language offers Unicode support, but you have to enable it. In our experience, Unicode support can be about 25% more work on an i18n implementation (there are exceptions), but remember that if you’re already in the code making i18n changes, it’s more efficient to do it now than restart the process later. This is a generalization, and there are plenty of specific application, business case and market driven exceptions. For example, somebody sold something and you have to deliver your product in Brazilian Portuguese in three months (true story!).

Unicode support will need to be a prerequisite if you have plans for markets/languages with complex scripts such as Japanese, Simplified and Traditional Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Hebrew, Arabic and Cyrillic based languages (i.e., Russian).

I18n Phase 1: Data

Internationalization

The very first internationalization priority should be the ability to input, process and transform customer data. In my opinion, this should be a benchmark requirement for any software that could have global customers or enterprise customers, whether or not localization is considered to be in the future. Note that the U/I is not changing in this phase. There is no U/I localization yet.

Even if you are actively selling only in your home country, it’s likely that you will run into customers in other countries, or your customers will have customers in other countries. At least let people enter data in multiple languages and formats. Store it, transform it and retrieve it without corrupting it.

Minimally, accents and diacritics shouldn’t cause character corruption (those square boxes and odd shapes you’ve probably seen). Better yet, add unicode support in the database and source code.  Character corruption shouldn’t be caused via issues in the various components of your product source code.

Character corruption example:

Character Corruption Example

Better if data can be stored and managed in variable formats for information such as date/time, numerical units, addresses, phone numbers and currencies.

Automation is the best approach to achieving this in a seamless, efficient and scalable manner. To that end, Lingoport’s Globalyzer can be used to scan your source code and database scripts to find these issues and guide developers to fix them. Our services team can perform refactoring work, as well.

I18n Phase 1.5: Locale Frameworks

You’ll need a locale framework for each programming language within your source code.

This paves the way for string externalization and presentation which will be needed for localization. Presentation of formats for date/time, numerical units, addresses, phone numbers, collation, currencies and more are also controlled by locale frameworks.

Lingoport’s services teams can help you make the right choices and even implement them for you.

I18n Phase 2: Language and Localization

Italy

String externalization is often what most people think of as the critical i18n and L10n step. User-facing words or strings are removed from being embedded in the source code and replaced with a function call typically to a resource file where the strings will now reside. This way, if the user selects a locale preference (remember those locale frameworks), French in France for example, the code will retrieve the French strings in the resource file for presentation.

String externalization can be tedious and time consuming. The issue is that lots of things may look like strings at the source code level that aren’t actually user-facing strings. Examples are named variables, debug statements and internal queries. Lingoport’s Globalyzer has default and extendable capabilities to aid these distinctions. Globalyzer Workbench enables an i18n engineer to assemble strings, walk through them and then externalize them in bulk.

You’ll also want to test your work. Lingoport’s Resource Manager will automatically generate a pseudo-locale that will help your team functionally test how the software will behave in another language, without the testers needing to understand that target language. Pad characters are added around the original English strings with expansion automatically set based on typical U/I requirements in the target languages. Alternatively, the expansion can be configured manually. This way, testers can immediately see any missed strings or U/I elements that won’t properly expand for likely longer words and changes in fonts in other languages (i.e., German, Chinese).

Pseudo localized page for a family tree application:

Pseudo-localization

I18n Phase 2.5: Workflow

With some software, workflow and processes are different depending on market requirements. This takes market research and coordination with in-country representation. For instance, tax management, or medical administrative software is likely to have different requirements and steps in most markets.

I18n Phase 3: Bidi Support

i18n Phases

If your product is being sold in places using bi-directional languages such as Hebrew or Arabic, you’ll need to enable and test your pages to support U/I mirroring and the bi-directional nature of text that goes right to left, but with left to right elements within. Unicode support is a prerequisite.

Ongoing i18n and L10n

Fight Mojibake!Now that you’ve internationalized and localized your software, your work isn’t over. Your teams will be steadily releasing new features and functionality. I18n surprises can arise down the line that cost time and iterations to fix. It’s not hard for a developer to make a mistake. Just as your teams may continuously measure for coding quality issues and security, i18n quality now becomes another metric.

Localization for every sprint, branch and repository makes for tedious and error prone work that slows agile progress. That process can be automated, taking your developers out of the resource file update nanny business.

Lingoport Suite’s Globalyzer continuously supports i18n from the developer IDE to source repositories. Lingoport’s Resource Manager automates resource file updates from source to translation and back again, with quality checks in each direction. QA is supported as well.

Lingoport Dashboard lets teams see and manage i18n & L10n status and process, supporting i18n issue drill downs to associated source code, issue assignment and completion. Similarly, Localization resource file issues can be itemized and examined.

We’ve seen teams go from 5-week localization update cycles to under 3-days over hundreds of repositories. Our services teams have internationalized many well known applications ranging from small to millions of lines of code, and you would be surprised to see the efficiency gains that are achievable in the development process.

We hope that you find this primer useful as you look to address i18n and L10n of your own software products. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out and a Lingoport team member will be happy to talk through the issues with you.

Other resources:


The State of Continuous i18n & L10n Survey Results