I just talked to a reporter from eContent about content globalization and localization. After the usual questions about the challenges of localization and how technology can help, she asked an open ended question about whether I see anything on the horizon that would change the need for localization.
eContent is a magazine that is read by the publishing industry, so that got me thinking that the big technology trend in publishing is e-readers: iPads, Kindles, and the like. I hypothesized that the increase in e-readers might increase localization needs.
When calculating which locales a book or magazine is translated into (note: not just languages, but locales like Spain Spanish vs. Mexican Spanish) there are always a few just below the line that weren’t worth the cost of translation. But when distribution costs to countries far from the parent’s home base are eliminated, I’m betting a few of those now float above the line and are profitable to localize into.
The challenge is that this depends on how many people have e-readers in these “below the line” countries as well. Probably not many at the moment. But as they become cheaper and more prevalent that could change.
I wrote a blog posting over at the Collaboration and Content Strategies blog that answered the Global Watchtower’s pronouncement of “companies claiming that ‘it just isn’t worth it’ to have websites in other languages.” My response is that I suspect this is due to tighter economic conditions that require harder business cases coming up against web localization efforts that have easily quantified costs but benefits that are difficult to measure.
If you want more detail, you can read that blog post here. What I want to do here is provide this Wordle chart of my report “ECM for Translation and Localization: Raising IT’s Globalization Fluency“. This report is only available to clients, but I can boil down all 45 pages of it into one handy chart on “content globalization”. It’s like getting your knowledge in capsule form! Click for a larger view.
In a conversation with a major software vendor recently, a product manager got (very) touchy when I questioned a statement that the growth opportunity outside the G7 (top 7 industrialized nations) was much greater than inside. I hadn’t looked at these figures since the recession reared its ugly head, so I checked and it turns out I was indeed wrong to question it.
Overall GDP growth figures (I follow the IMF data) show that emerging countries are expected to grow faster than then G7, although the difference has shrunken from the previous eight years when emerging economies were strongly outpacing developed ones. Reduction in commodity prices, tightening of credit for growth, limits on growth due to carbon controls, and increasing protectionism are having a disproportionate depressing effect on emerging markets, shrinking the gap with G7 growth. IT spending figures show flat to slightly negative growth in developed countries compared to single-digit to 10% increases in emerging ones (see “2009 IT Spending“).
Still, I could tell I hit a nerve. It became obvious that a major part of the growth strategy for this large software unit was to count on sales in emerging markets to satisfy a substantial portion of 2009 growth. Indeed, examples of account wins were much more globetrotting than in recent years. One product slide listed accounts in China, India, Sri Lanka, and Brazil. Another product slide listed wins in China, India, Singapore, and Taiwan. It is not unusual for a large, worldwide software company to have so many accounts in emerging markets. And the BRIC countries have been reliably strong in this decade. But I’ve been an industry analyst for ten years and seen hundreds of these presentations and have never seen so many emerging market reference accounts (roughly half of those listed) from a global software firm. I think emerging market accounts existed before, but didn’t make the cut on the logo slide until the recent dearth of G2000 (the 2,000 largest global companies) wins let them surface.
I think shifting to or enhancing sales focus on emerging economies is a good growth strategy for a large software company in 2009. If I’m an investor I would be comforted by the efforts of this company to quickly adapt to the economic environment and use global channels to seek penetration in unsaturated markets. But I’m not a financial analyst – I’m an industry analyst representing the interests of my end user clients who happen to be in large G2000 organizations in developed countries. For one of my clients, how should I interpret growth figures I receive from a vendor as part of due diligence that show strong growth even in this recessionary period?
It is good practice to evaluate product and vendor growth during due diligence phases of software acquisition and during upgrade, migration, and sunset decisions. But evaluators now need to dig deeper into these growth figures during due diligence since some of the underlying assumptions have changed if a substantial part of this growth comes form geographic regions different than those of the evaluator. The evaluator should ask how much of that growth came from “my geographical region” and “organizations similar to mine”.
Why does that matter? The vendor will surely argue it doesn’t matter since, as a measure of vendor viability (or product viability), growth is growth. This is true – as far as viability, it doesn’t matter much where the growth is from. If I’m in France and most of the new revenue is coming from China, that’s still good. I can be reasonably assured the product isn’t going to be put on life support or have the plug pulled entirely since it’s making money.
But as a proxy for best practices or what my peers are doing, emerging market growth doesn’t suffice. If I use what my peers do I’m assured that, for technology that doesn’t differentiate my services, my competition doesn’t have a productivity edge. And we’re likely to be able to find employees, contractors, and ASPs from a shared pool of knowledgeable candidates. But if the growth is coming from a vastly different market (like Sri Lanka is to a U.S. conglomerate), those assumptions don’t apply.
Growth is also seen as an assurance that the product is likely to keep pace with the newest features. The assumption is that a vendor is not likely to let a growing product stagnate in light of trends towards web services, rich web-based interfaces, embedded presence, social computing, SaaS delivery models, or contextual collaboration. But if the growth comes from emerging markets, that assumption may not longer be true. Companies in emerging markets (often partially if not wholly controlled by the government) may be at very different spots on the technology maturity curve. The weighting for the newest technology on wish lists for the next version may start skewing towards other features.
In short, due diligence for software purchases will now require you to be even more diligent.
Note: This is a cross-posting from the Collaboration and Content Strategies blog.
I’ve heard marketing folks in the IT space use the term pain points for years. According to the Buzzword Compliant Dictionary “Business consultants use ‘pain points’ as a term to describe the places where a business feels the ‘pain’ due to poor operational structure, bad software or good, old-fashioned inefficiencies.” If you’re in marketing for a software, hardware, or services firm or in IT and trying to secure budget or resources to address a problem, it’s a good idea to isolate the pain points and then describe how your recommended solution will ease the pain.
But I noticed today that many of the IT issues I’ve been writing about lately don’t lend themselves to pain points. It’s more like they are numb points. Users don’t think day-to-day about the symptoms of the underlying problem because they’ve been there so long and are so difficult to put your finger on, that they have become numb to it and just treat any resulting inefficiency as business-as-usual. For example, in my report on Enterprise Attention Management I wrote:
Most people treat attention management problems like e-mail overload and interruptions from IM and phone calls like they do the weather. Everyone complains about it but no one does anything about it.
That’s what I mean by a numb point. A second example I’ve run across is the cost and expense of translating and localizing content that was created for one language without regard to how easy it will be to localize later. A third is collaborative authoring.
But trying to get people to address a numb point is not easy, despite the criticality of the issue. For a parallel, think about the human body. Both pain and numbness can indicate very serious problems. A host of dreaded conditions involving circulation or damaged nerves can lead to parts of the body going numb, signaling major trouble. While the human body is wired to respond instantly to pain and force you to attend to the problem, numbness is more sneaky. It can go unnoticed at first. And once it is noticed, the numbness can be scary and lead to dread, but doesn’t inspire the same quick reaction as pain.
To get someone to address a numb point you have to first make them aware of the numbness, the nature of the efficiency loss it is causing, and how it is a symptom that is likely to get worse. You have to tap that numb part, show how that isn’t normal, and shake them awake into dealing with it rather than accepting a slow decline in function. That’s what I and others in the attention management / information overload space are trying to do in different ways. That’s what I hope to do with collaborative authoring and other content authoring trends in my current research. And I hope that over time, IT and business executives become more sensitive and aware that sometimes numbness, not just pain, demands immediate attention.
I was having breakfast this morning before going to work to prepare for my telebriefing tomorrow on The Role of Enterprise Content Management in Content Globalization/Localization when I opened my Wall St. Journal (4/28/08 page A1; link) to read that nationalism may be thwarting globalization. The article by Bob Davis points out that while globalization was supposed to be inevitable (hence the WSJ’s reference to Thomas Friedman’s famous globalization manifesto), nationalism and protectionism seem to be on the rise.
Trade talks are shelved. Barriers to foreign investment are rising around the world. State-owned companies are expanding, particularly in oil and gas. Public support of immigration restriction is growing in countries from the U.S. to India.
So what do I say tomorrow about the need for IT organizations to get involved in content globalization and localization efforts? I think I’m still on track in saying that there is a sharp increase in content globalization occurring and that IT can help. It’s possible that some expansion plans in industries that could be brought under state control (energy and foodstuffs in particular) could be put on hold. But for other industries, the drivers of IT involvement in globalization efforts that I discuss in my telebriefing are still very relevant. These include:
- Containing or reducing costs: Whatever degree of globalization occurs, there will be a need to contain globalization costs
- Clarification of central and local control through governance: If power shifts are occurring and barriers are rising between central and local branches, governance takes on increasing importance
- Timing/responsiveness: The uncertainty of the globalization landscape places even more emphasis on an organizations ability to react quickly to changes
- Safeguarding brand image: Increased nationalism means increased attention must be paid to local culture and customs, so proper translation and QA processes become more important for a deeper swath of content
- Improving consistency: As with safeguarding brand image, inconsistent translations will have increased risk of harming the brand
- Need to handle increased complexity: Potential increases in regulation will increase the need for complex workflow that can handle documents based upon content typing
I’m not a politician or economist, so I’m (way) out of my element in predicting what effecting nationalism, protectionism, and a global backlash may have on international relations. The article isn’t saying the slowdown is definite, but a possibility when certain threads in the news are connected. But from an enterprise content management perspective I think the globalization storm is looking even more vicious than before.
Note: This is a cross-posting from the Collaboration and Content Strategies blog
I have a telebriefing coming up on content globalization next week that I wanted to alert you to. I’m focusing mostly on the role of enterprise content management in globalization and have put in a slide on Web 2.0 impacts on globalization. It’s for clients only, but non-clients can get an introduction through my podcast series on this topic.
The Role of Enterprise Content Management in Content Globalization/Localization
Globalization is profound, it’s irrefutable, and it’s irreversible.” These words, spoken by General Electric CEO Jeffery Immelt, are a clear signal that the business world acknowledges a globalization wave that is unlikely to subside. But how has this wave impacted information technology (IT)? The authors and owners of content have often been insulated from this storm, but a stark increase in globalization demands is pulling IT in. In this TeleBriefing, Service Director Craig Roth describes how enterprise content management (ECM) processes and technology, from authoring to analytics, can reduce the cost, cycle times, and inconsistencies of localization efforts.
4/29/2008 at 2:00 PM EDT / 11:00 AM PDT / 18:00 UTC/GMT / 20:00 CEST
4/30/2008 at 9:00 AM EDT / 6:00 AM PDT / 13:00 UTC/GMT / 15:00 CEST
Here’s the link to register for this TeleBriefing.
I’m happy to report that response has been strong for my podcast series on content globalization (well over 600 downloads in less than 2 weeks!), which confirms for me that there is real interest in IT for learning more about the intersection of enterprise content management and globalization/localization.
There was also a curious finding in the download stats. I looked at downloads by part and had assumed part 1 would have the most downloads since people start there and then get distracted, busy, or bored and don’t continue. On the contrary, part 2 had the highest hit rate (about a third of all downloads). That’s the “globalization 101 in twenty minutes” one – kind of the quick primer without any real opinions thrown in. To me this shows the content globalization market is at a very early stage and IT folks are hungry just to get their hands around it and figure out what it is. And before you smart-aleks say it really shows that no one wants my opinion, the next most popular podcast was #4 (26% of downloads), which is “what IT can and should do …”.
If you didn’t see my previous posting about the podcast series, here’s a link to my blog entry that has links to the podcast pages that have links to the podcasts. Luckily I don’t pay by the link. Seriously though, sorry about all the linking but each step provides a bit of additional detail for you.
I’m happy to say that after a whole lot of interviewing, writing, and document reviews in the fall/winter of 2007 my report ECM for Translation and Localization: Raising IT’s Globalization Fluency was finally published at the end of January. I’d like to thank all the clients and vendors that gave me their time to tell me about what they are seeing from their vantage point on the globalization market and, along with my teammates, gave me their comments during peer review.
The report is only available to clients of the Collaboration and Content Strategies service, but I’ve also done a series of podcasts and accompanying blog entries that summarize the report. The podcasts/blog is available for free. I’ve attached the details and links below. Please let me know what you think by commenting here or in the blog companion entries. Enjoy!
What IT needs to know about content globalization, localization, and translation
Part 1: Repeatable content globalization: Ignore it at your peril
The first part of this podcast series describes why globalization, and in particular its impact on content management, is going to be so important for organizations and why information technology and IT departments have a role to play.
Part 2: Content Globalization 101 in twenty minutes
In part 2 Craig Roth discusses background information on globalization to assist people coming up to speed on globalization or looking for rationale for our analysis. Part 2 gives a quick overview of topics such as globalization terms, where to find linguistic trend data for a particular region, some important standards for content globalization, and a brief overview of code internationalization.
Part 3: Content globalization: Do the big vendors care?
In part 3, Craig Roth dives into what big vendors are doing concerning content globalization and where they really care. And what does vendor support mean to the software market and how will buyers be impacted.
Part 4: What IT can and should do
Part 4 describes five things that IT can do about content globalization.
CMS Watch reported that
Translation and Content Management vendor SDL has taken a minority stake in privately held Trisoft N.V., a Belgian-based vendor of InfoShare, a component content management system (CCM). There was no fanfare, and in fact no announcement; evidently because it wasn’t a full acquisition, the two companies dispensed with any press release. However, I think it’s a significant move. When it comes to translation information management, XML; and in this case DITA-based XML, can matter. SDL had previously acquired Tridion, a Web CMS that can be used for component content management, early last year.
I think this is a good move by SDL, which has become quite a consolidator of globalization technology. I haven’t looked at InfoShare before, but buying into the XML-based content management market is prescient of SDL since component-oriented content is very useful for creating content that is going to be translated.
Four factors are compounded to increase the value of component-oriented content:
1. The number of localized variants that the content will be translated into
2. The number of formats that the content will be distributed in
3. The locality of the translation (e.g., needing to retranslate only one section of a document)
4. The frequency with which the content will be changed (thus necessitating retranslation)
When any of these four factors increase, component-oriented content creation starts looking better for any organization creating content that will be localized. That means translation activities will be easier to track, take less time, make better use of translation memory, and be more consistent.
Can I Catch the 2:05 Technology Train at the Globalization Station? Sorry, You Just Missed Constant Partial Attention …January 9, 2008 at 5:02 pm | Posted in Attention Management, Globalization, portals, virtual worlds | Leave a comment
For the end of the year, Ross Dawson published a map of trends across society in 2007, based on a train system map. I find Ross’s map of trends to be very interesting for what it says (and doesn’t say) about the areas I cover as an industry analyst: globalization, attention management, and portals.
Globalization is dead center in the middle of the trend graph. It has 3 lines connecting it to anxiety compared to only 2 lines to happiness (or does the yellow train stop there?). From my point of view though (content globalization) I noticed that the technology line does not connect to globalization. But the core thesis of my research into content globalization is that the trend is for information technology’s intersection with globalization is rising rapidly due to enabling technology in the form of enterprise content management, XML standards, and component-oriented content.
Attention management is on the chart in the form of “too much information”. It is shown as tantalizingly close to “resource scarcity”, which would have formed an interesting parallel to water scarcity and to the orange line below (constant partial attention, slowing down). I happen to think those are inexorably connected to “too much information”.
Portals get interesting placement in the “personalization” hub in the lower left of the chart. No less than 7 trains run through that hub including on-demand, fragmentation, wisdom of crowds, constant partial attention, and online medical records.
A fourth area I cover, virtual worlds, didn’t seem to get placement. Unless it’s counted under “escapism”. Or “boredom” …