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Eliminating Barriers to Web Globalization

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There’s a reason they call it the World Wide Web. Simply put, the web enables organizations to connect with a diverse audience—no matter where they’re located or what language they speak… That is, as long as you can speak their language.

William Rogers, Founder and CEO, Ektron Inc. As we enter 2005, more and more organizations understand the value of a global web strategy. And increasingly, they’re looking to content management solutions (CMS) that enable multilingual web sites and to the language service providers that support them in realizing that opportunity.

The U.S. now accounts for only 34% of internet users worldwide. (IDC)

There is solid evidence that organizations should give serious consideration to globalizing their web site, including new statistics that confirm the multitude of languages being “spoken” on the web. Recent research by IDC found that the United States accounted for only 34% of internet users worldwide, with the rest of the world’s web users spread across Europe (29%), Asia/Pacific (16%), Japan (10%) and rest of world (11%).

Despite the clear business benefits, organizations still face challenges in “going global.” In general, I believe this is because organizations have lacked truly effective and affordable technology to expand their sites beyond a single language.

A CMS is the bridge between those who want a multilingual site and those who can deliver one.

I see that changing in 2005. New developments in content management have set the stage for a significant growth year among organizations taking their message to new markets on the web – as well as opportunities for those professionals delivering language services. A CMS can bridge the gap between organizations that want a multilingual web site, and the providers that can deliver the language services to make it a reality.

2005: The Year of Going Global on the Web

As the founder of Ektron, a content management software company, I’m fortunate to speak daily to CEOs, marketing professionals, IT managers and web developers who are building and deploying results-driven web sites.

Ektron recently surveyed more than 100 businesses with single-language web sites. More than half responded that creating multilingual sites was among their top-tier web priorities for 2005. The organizations cited an array of goals:

  • Expand to new markets
  • Combat competitive challenges
  • Increase top-line and bottom-line revenues
  • Service their existing customers more effectively (wherever they’re located)
  • Meet multilingual compliance mandates (internal and/or external)

Most of these organizations have already embraced content management solutions (commercial and/or homegrown) to streamline their day-to-day publishing activities. Now, they’re coming to understand that the right CMS can help them more easily interact with their language service providers and automate previously complex processes.

Overcoming Barriers

Historically, CMS users have faced various shortcomings when it comes to managing and publishing multilingual content:

  • CMS products, in my opinion, have generally not managed translation or localization processes well. Commercial solutions have tended to be expensive and complex – and they’ve typically lacked robust localization support.

  • Many organizations have built, not bought, their CMS. This has often left them lacking key content management features and functions. Managing multilingual content, unfortunately, is not in the scope of most homegrown solutions.
  • Archaic approaches abound. Too many companies still email or FTP their content around for translation.

Today, the new reality for commercial content management solutions means web-based workflows, task management and real-time project reporting in affordable packages that are off-the-shelf and easy-to-integrate. Solutions also include built-in support for localization standards, such as XLIFF, as well as the ability to interact with translation memory tools. (An upcoming Ektron webcast on January 27, New Approaches for Web Content Globalization, will explore these options in detail.)

Ektron CMS: New Approaches to Globalization

Ektron is among the first CMS providers to deliver built-in XLIFF support.

Many companies now realize that it’s time to move to an automated, process-driven approach for multilingual content that will eliminate ad-hoc, wasteful methods. A CMS bridges the work of remote employees, offices, departments, and third-party “virtual” team members, acting as a complete framework to manage people, process and information on the web. Ektron goes to the next level by enabling organizations to manage all elements of site globalization (text, images, forms, calendars, navigation elements) in a single web-based application. Based on market feedback, we’ve built our CMS to meet the needs of global organizations and the agencies and freelancers that perform translation/localization services – at the same time, creating opportunities on both sides of the equation. In other words, an Ektron CMS enables organizations to capitalize on the business opportunities in going global.

What is Ektron doing differently than other content management solution providers with regards to content globalization?

  • First, an Ektron CMS tightly integrates source and multilingual content. Our built-in, automated workflow enables translators to be assigned a task and to access content via the web to produce their work. Simultaneously, managers can monitor projects in real-time. Each language can have separate workflow and approvals.

  • Second, Ektron is among the first content management solution providers to deliver built-in XLIFF support, an XML-based standard for localization. Content files can be extracted, converted to XLIFF, and sent to language service providers for translation/localization in a familiar format that’s easy to manipulate. On the return trip, translated files are automatically uploaded, routed through language-specific approval chains and then published.
  • Finally, an Ektron CMS offers basic machine translation for sites that want to accomplish basic content “gisting” or get a head-start on translation projects.

A globally aware CMS can speed up time-to-web for multilingual content.

At the end of the day, a content management solution has the power to automate web site globalization projects. A globally aware CMS can streamline processes by allowing content to be rapidly exchanged between clients and language service providers, thus speeding up the time-to-web for multilingual content. At the same time, a CMS can lower overall project costs.

We believe that the demand for sub-US $10,000 content management solutions that deliver ease of use, robust workflow with automation, collaboration tools, and support for localization standards will expand rapidly in 2005. In the end, it will open up opportunities both for organizations that need to go global and for the language service professionals who serve them.

William Rogers is founder and CEO of Ektron, Inc., a provider of content management tools and solutions. Ektron is based in Amherst, NH and is on the web at www.ektron.com.


Reprinted by permission from the Globalization Insider,
January 2005

Copyright the Localization Industry Standards Association
(Globalization Insider: www.localization.org, LISA:
and S.M.P. Marketing Sarl (SMP) 2005

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