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Smith's Blog



Posted Jun 28, 2010 at 7:49 AM by Smith Yewell

When I buy a product at Walmart it is scanned at the check-out counter. At that moment, the entire supply chain it took to produce that product is alerted; another product is moved into the assembly line, and the new product is on the shelf the next day. This is an enormous logistical challenge, and Walmart achieves success through very sophisticated automation systems and standard supply chain integration. Walmart is able to achieve such a high level of supply chain automation and integration, because very early in their history they convinced their suppliers to standardize the hand-offs in the supply chain around the most optimal way to produce what a customer wants, in the format they want, where they want it and at the best possible price. I am beginning to see clients in our industry requiring their translation vendors to do the very same thing.

Collaboration, integration, standardization and cooperation are all the hot buzzwords today. Why? Because clients are realizing that vendor silos are limiting their ability to achieve enterprise-wide objectives around time, cost and quality.


The Walmart supply chain is one built to support the movement of products, but what does the same set of challenges look like when it is a movement of digital information?

The translation industry is reliant upon a digital supply chain. We move words around, and the consumers of these words expect the latest and greatest instantly on the device of their choice in a simple and easy way. We can thank cloud computing, the iPhone, Google, Twitter and Facebook in large part for creating this new level of expectation.

This new expectation has a massive impact on our translation supply chain. The age of the “translation project” is waning and new age of the “translation utility” is waxing. Translation as a utility is a concept describing an always-on, on-demand, streaming translation service. Machine translation (MT) might come to mind first, but I see MT as just another important productivity tool in the translation supply chain. It is the configuration and integration of the supply chain tools and vendors to achieve “translation as a utility” which is the next frontier, where the biggest challenge lies and where the real value is created. Perhaps a Walmart of words or a FedEx of words will emerge?

Supply chain automation requires standard inputs and outputs. Otherwise, the systems and hand-offs between various vendors in the chain breakdown. The translation industry is suffering from this problem. The supply chain has not kept pace with the rapidly growing need for translation as a utility. Interoperability, extensibility and flexibility across systems and tools is currently limited. But this is beginning to change.

IBM announced today the formation of a partnership to work towards solving these challenges. In partnership with LISA (Localization Industry Standards Association), Welocalize, Cisco, and Linux Solution Group (LiSoG), IBM will offer an open source version of IBM’s TranslationManager/2 (TM2) to be called OpenTM2.

“There is a recognized and growing need for standards in the localization industry. However, despite our best intentions, standards themselves can often be vague and open to multiple interpretations. What is needed are reference implementations and reference platforms that serve as concrete and unambiguous models in support of the standard.” acknowledged Bill Sullivan, IBM Globalization Executive. Mr. Sullivan suggests, “Freelance translators are the backbone of the localization industry. These translators have longed for free and open translation tools to increase their productivity. Our expectation is that by providing OpenTM2 in the open source environment we can enlist the aid of this army of dedicated users to bring OpenTM2 even closer to the realization of a flexible open platform to mature data exchange standards our industry desperately needs." Please see Kirti Vashee’s blog for interesting read on this topic of standards.
IBM, Welocalize and the other partners are working to make this open platform a reality. Our first reference implementation will be a standard integration between a content management system (Joomla), a translation management system (GlobalSight) and a translators workbench (Open TM2). The Localization Industry Standards Association (LISA) plans to document and publicize the standard data exchange format to be utilized in the reference implementation, and these standard data exchange protocols will be expanded to include additional implementations until a standard, extensible and interoperable eco-system is formed. It is an ambitious goal, but market forces are driving the change, and I believe we will see the change through.

Smith

This is very encouraging (and I say this not only because a reference has been made to my blog.)

There are a few things that especially resonate with me:

"Collaboration, integration, standardization and cooperation are all the hot buzzwords today. Why? Because clients are realizing that vendor silos are limiting their ability to achieve enterprise-wide objectives around time, cost and quality."

This points to the concept of TCO that I think many in the translation industry are not familiar with as it helps make the case to move away from lock-in products like Trados even though there is a short-term higher cost to doing this. Open source reduces this initial cost and so I am happy to see this.

The other point that really resonates with me: “Freelance translators are the backbone of the localization industry. These translators have longed for free and open translation tools to increase their productivity."

We all have much to gain by TRULY empowering translators and really investing in their productivity.

Also standards are only standards if everybody uses them and it becomes a required and necessary means to regular business practice for all key stakeholders.

I hope that somebody who understands the issues provides a clear outline and guide for anybody who wants to take all their Trados data and move it to this new platform. This could be done either by the community or this open source alliance to encourage widespread migration.

If a number of large customer organizations and their vendors move to this and are willing to share experience on how to get the data moved over I am sure this can build momentum.

Translation utilities will not happen until a really trusted and widely used standard becomes available.

We should now be asking why have previous open source initiatives not succeeded and addressing these issues. This will happen with widespread community support if TRUST is established early on.

Yes, TCO vs. the cost of a project is a topic that is beginning to replace the cost/word discussion, and this creates more value for clients and vendors alike.

I agree that investing in translator productivity will benefit the supply chain on the whole. Recruiting, empowering and rewarding translators in a better way is necessary to make any breakthrough in time, cost and quality (TCO).

No doubt, we need to build trust and a business case of benefits in order to make standard data exchange formats a reality in the translation industry.

Great post, Smith!

I welcome the initiative and pledge to support it in any way I can. I agree with Bill Sullivan's quote that the ultimate producers in the supply chain - the translators - need and want a free TM tool. At least a baseline tool.

The challenge for an initiative like this is adoption. I recommend that the steering committee set up a big booth at the ATA Conference in Denver and give away OpenTM2 CDs and do live demos of the product (à la SDL), so that attendees are motivated to work with it.

I also recommend you engage opinion makers like Jost Zetzsche and Danilo Nogueira.

Renato Beninatto
Milengo Ltd.

This is definitely a great news for our industry. In our opinion this is the first logical step towards the right direction, compared to some other initiatives, where proprietary stranglehold is thought to have a future. We will gladly support this initiative.

Regards

Sultan Ghaznawi
YYZ Translations

This is great news! With all the initiatives that have been happening lately, looks like we may finally stop reinventing the wheel over and over again.

We are working on integrating GlobalSight with Drupal and things are looking good; can't wait for this integration to be available with all popular CMSs.

Yes, increased productivity (less reinventing the wheel) is necessary and will be generated by increased collaboration. For more on the collaboration topic, see Kirti's blog entry: http://kv-emptypages.blogspot.com/2010/04/collaboration-and-localization.html

Increased collaboration by companies such as YYZ, Milengo, Asia Online and others will drive the adoption Renato correctly cites as necessary.

Not meaning to rain on the parade but some initial feedback from people who are taking a closer look is not that great.

Apparently very few file formats are supported and thus the utility of this product are very limited for most people.


"One of the major strengths of the internal IBM Translation Manager is its support for an incredible variety of file formats – with no pre- or post-processing needed.

That last point is the key, since that is, IMHO, one of the weaknesses of other TM tools (the need to transform files, and the resulting errors).

File formats are supported via markup tables, and unfortunately only 4 file formats are supported as of now:

* HTML
* Plain text
* Double quote files (translatable text contained in double quotes)
* Single quote files (translatable text contained in single quotes)"

You can see the gory details at:
http://globalizer.wordpress.com/2010/06/30/opentm2-yes-i-was-overly-optimistic/

I think we need something a bit more basic than collaboration to get adoption: function.

As far as I can tell the current set of markup tables available render the tool almost useless - see more detail here: http://globalizer.wordpress.com/2010/06/30/opentm2-yes-i-was-overly-optimistic/

And I forgot to add that import/export of TMS in TMX format also does not seem to work (see support forum and TRAC system for bug report on that).

This is only an initial release of the product. To start, I expect current users of TM2 will collaborate to to fix the most pressing issues. From there, I expect a larger community will grow around the product making it a viable alternative to the Trados workbench. To be clear though, what one puts into it - will determine what one can gain from it. The opportunity is there.

hi
collaboration, integration, standardization and cooperation are all the hot buzzwords today. Why? Because clients are realizing that vendor silos are limiting their ability to achieve enterprise-wide objectives around time, cost and quality.

nice article about translation I have found a best site about translations. http://www.translation.pk

I welcome the initiative and pledge to support it in any way I can. I agree with Bill Sullivan's quote that the ultimate producers in the supply chain - the translators - need and want a free TM tool. At least a baseline tool. The challenge for an initiative like this is adoption. I recommend that the steering committee set up a big booth at the ATA Conference in Denver and give away OpenTM2 CDs and do live demos of the product (à la SDL), so that attendees are motivated to work with it.

ite a very nice article about the product of ibm welconize and From there, I expect a larger community will grow around the product making it a viable alternative to the Trados workbench.

This is amazing blog. great efforts.

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