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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The lure of the cloud (Part 3 of "Will technology save your company?")

There is also the irresistible lure of the “cloud.” Strapped vendors dream how high margins could be if they could get a cloud of super cheap (or even free) translators who would frantically collaborate on translation in real time in the same way as Wikipedia is edited.

Considering how even the best translation can be rubbished as garbage over minor style issues specific to a company or sub-market, it seems unlikely that a group of generic translators could produce material acceptable to most demanding corporate clients (and if you thought they could, would you risk your client on trying it?).

Is communicating with the client necessary?

One effect of these systems is to eliminate the need to communicate with the client. When we see this we have to wonder: Is a corporate buyer or executive really going to be comfortable putting their key project through a computer system designed to eliminate the need for the localization company to provide them personalized service, consultation, and feedback? And an inherent admission that this level of service is too expensive to provide?

How can localization sales executives sell systems for localization that cut out the technical feedback and support that localization companies used to crow about? It is a basic desire of a customer to have their own personal account executive taking care of them and communicating with them at all phases of their projects. They want someone to be there for them should they unexpectedly need to change the scope, modify a file, change the time frame, or even put the job on hold.

It must be acknowledged that the same false assumptions that call for systems to take over work can also seduce an end client. For some clients, the idea of them being able to log on to an online system and look over your shoulder while a project is being done has its appeal.

However, project managers end up artificially showing progress on jobs just to forestall the blizzard of frantic emails from the end client if the schedule is perceived to be slipping. Also, there is hardly a localization salesperson who does not recognize the value of offering a system he can offer to a client that will “automatically” solve their problems and help them reach their goals.

To be continued...

Next: The secret to satisfied clients

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