Just as “time to market” has accelerated across all industries, so too has “translation to market.” After all, you can’t promote a new product globally if the marketing collateral and support materials aren’t available in the necessary languages.
When it comes to the Internet, the content management system (CMS) plays a critical role in accelerating (or decelerating) translation to market.
Up until recently, Briggs & Stratton was clearly suffering under the weight of its CMS. Briggs was using a now-defunct product called Eprise, from the now-defunct company Divine. Managing translation workflow through the software was cumbersome, time-intensive, and prone to error; translating a Web page into five languages could take a week or more, not because of the actual translation but because of the software overhead.
Briggs & Stratton turned to Northwoods Software Development for an XML-based software solution. Now, when a Web page is added or modified in the source language, Briggs’ translation agency (Cogen) is automatically notified. But that’s just for starters. Because the CMS is native XML, Cogen can export pre-translated text strings and re-import them when the job is complete. Only those text strings that need to be translated are exported saving a great deal of time; what used to take a week now can be managed in hours.
I spoke with Pat Bieser, CEO of Northwoods. He said that Briggs first looked at Vignette, Broadvision, Microsoft CMS, and a number of smaller vendors before selecting Northwoods. “They choose us because of our reasonable price and because our feature set compared well to the high end products,” he said. “It also didn’t hurt that we have had 300 installs in the past two years, including some big names like Snap-on, AIG, VISA, Time Warner, and the City of Milwaukee.”
Pat believes the translation workflow feature will become a critical feature of their CMS platform in the years ahead: “All of our clients who do business overseas have an interest in our translation process and multi-language CMS.” However, he does not believe that the feature alone will drive sales. Translation workflow support is well down the priority list with most companies: “Unfortunately, this feature is often a ‘next year’ or ‘next phase’ option.”
I found the Briggs & Stratton deployment interesting for three major reasons:
- For starters, Northwoods appears to be growing rapidly despite the presence of global heavyweights like Vignettes. This tells me that there is plenty of opportunity for smaller vendors to succeed and to conintue to exert pricing pressure on the large vendors, as well as the globalization management software vendors like Idiom and Globalsight.
- Translation services vendors have an opportunity to gain new business through these new developments. Although Cogen kept the Briggs account throughout this transition, they could have been unseated had Northwoods entered with a services partner. Cogen appears to have had a strong enough relationship that Briggs did not “throw out the baby with the bathwater.” Other agencies in this situation may not be so fortunate.
- Speed kills. Multinationals will â€œkillâ€ their existing software and service vendors if they cantt help them get translated content out to the Web sites as quickly as possible. Vendors would be wise to leverage speed as a marketing device to kill the competitioin.