The localization community is a relatively small one. Many of us talk to each other regularly about current challenges. Recently, a number of customers of a well-known globalization management system (GMS) provider got together at a user meeting. Based on our estimated 300 collective years of experience in GMS software, we compiled our common wish list for most-desperately-needed GMS features and futures. We weren’t quite in time to send Santa our list, but we channeled our wishes straight to Saint Sylvester, patron saint of the New Year, to intercede on our behalf in 2011!
Ensure interoperability among different system components by real support for open standards and industry collaboration: Please! We are tearing our hair out over products bought from the same provider that do not work together or that need better integration — for example, desktop tools and workflow tools. Even more of us are seeking to manage each stage of production using best-of-breed tools from a variety of suppliers, and we need them to plug and play so that we can move data among systems to support simple and complex needs. Truly open application programming interfaces are sorely needed.
Deliver on roadmap promises: As client users of GMSs, to run our localization businesses, we have to be able to depend on suppliers for accurate and reliable roadmaps, with delivery timeframes that are reasonable to enterprise customers. Living with the unfulfilled promise of tools integration keeps us in business planning limbo — or, worse, keeps us in a precarious support situation between deprecated tools and newer versions that have not been fully developed to meet our needs.
Easier migration/upgrades to newer versions: Nothing is more frustrating than to be unable to use the newest version of a GMS to get all those good bug fixes and new features. This is really irksome if you are a software-as-a-service (SaaS) subscriber, since by definition you signed up for not having to worry about this. Unfortunately, the more we have to customize, the more testing is required, and the more challenging it is to upgrade. Please see the next point for how the need to customize kicks off this complexity.
Configurable filters supporting a broad variety of file formats and content repository interfaces: We need a GMS to offer a wider range of built-in features that are configurable via the user interface, without customizations. Having to customize filters rather than configure them is really a pain in the neck. It introduces significant time delays into projects and is costly. While filters may be nicely configurable on the documentation side, our experience with GMS software filters is that a lot of customization is always required, even though the software file types are very standard. Ka-ching!
Enterprise-quality customer support and professional services: Our main request here is — wait for it — test thoroughly before you deliver us a fix or a solution! Hours, days and weeks have been lost from software that was released without the right quality. Not only does it cost us in time, but with professional services we’re actually paying for it. Another enterprise-strength need on the SaaS side is for reliable fail-over systems and backup. Tears have been shed over this!
SaaS “sandbox” for try and buy, and integration testing: This would go a long way toward easing the frustration evoked in the above items — especially for SaaS users who don’t have access to an SDK. Even on-premise customers who still need and want an SDK would be very interested in having, as part of their license, an SaaS connection to the “sandbox” to facilitate planning future development.
True integration with MT enabled processes, not just standalone MT: Remember TAUS at Taos? Who would have guessed that since then we’d come so far, so fast with machine translation (MT) adoption, after decades of waiting for it to fulfill its potential. This is one of the truly thrilling stories of our industry, with some true heroes behind it. But standalone MT is not good enough. We need it to plug and play with any GMS, not a giant integration effort. Out-of-the-box connectors with a variety of leading MT systems are needed. This includes for rule-based and hybrid MT systems. Many of us are experiencing issues with incompatible segmentation between the MT and GMS. Out-of-the-box connectors thoroughly tested before delivery would greatly improve the situation.
Connector for other industry-wide linguistic resources including TDA: Further helping the remarkable recent growth of MT, we need for ourselves and our language service providers to have easy access to the massive amounts of quality translation data provided by industry resources such as the TAUS Data Association (TDA). Many of us are deeply involved in pooling data with TDA and other resources, and the companies that provide easy access to that data really facilitate our work.
As we look forward to a busy 2011, we need our GMS automation to help us stay lean, fast, efficient, reliable and as stress-free as possible. Thanks in advance, dear GMS provider, for taking this list to heart — and into your development plans!