In setting up the initial relationships it’s been great to encounter so many people who buy into the core belief that in order for the language & localization industry to meet the challenges ahead, and maximize their organization’s opportunity, it will be critical for everyone involved to take down the walls between the various technologies and platforms and actually begin to create (affordable) systems that allow content management and authoring systems and document submission portals to interact directly with a TSP’s workflow solution. Our initial program participants have all brought that mindset to the table and never fail to surprise me with the opportunities and ideas they’ve brought to the table.
The buzzword of the past year has definitely been “ecosystem”, the irony of course though is that some players in the industry have actually been taking steps backwards to enclose their systems, closing off APIs or modifying License agreements to make the APIs off limits. If there are APIs available they’re typically hidden away behind costly SDKs or connector applications that are financially out of reach for all but the largest companies.
It’s unfortunate because what really needs to happen is the exact opposite. As technologists in this industry we desperately need to take the walls down and look to see how we can make our applications work together. One company we spoke with has to interact with over 20 different systems between all of their customers – that just isn’t scalable.
The answer also isn’t one giant system that houses all of the various workflows (especially not when multiple companies/vendors are involved). Yes, the lifecycle of a document is one giant “workflow”, but off of that master workflow are smaller workflow “eddies” that encompass a specific process (i.e. authoring or translation). The master workflow should move files through the process, allowing users to either handle the content with built in tools, when available, or intelligently pass it out to an external application for additional processing if required (i.e. translation) and then retrieve the content when the process is complete. (I plan on doing a more detailed post specifically on the workflow interactions later)
So much effort is expended today manually removing content from one system, packaging it up, sending it to a vendor so they can then unpackage it and load it into their own system – only to have to reverse the process again when content is sent back. Not efficient, not scalable and not very cost effective.
As the industry gets pulled along by the momentum of globalization & the Internet’s ability to open up broader markets (and produce vast quantities of content) the critical bottleneck will be capacity and not just capacity on the part of the human translators but also on the ability of service providers and their project managers to receive, process and return content in an ever decreasing timeframe.
Obviously, as evidenced by the announcement today, we’re looking for additional partners. If you’re a service provider or a technology company (CMS, Workflow, Translation Memory, Machine Translation etc.) who shares our view of where this industry needs to go we’d be happy to hear from you.