The Balancing Act: How to Ensure Interoperability in Complex Localization Workflows

Acolad Presentation SlatorCon Remote

It’s a familiar story: language service providers (LSPs) obtain a series of proprietary technologies through acquisitions but, at a certain point, need to winnow down their technological “assets” to prevent redundancy. 

Less can become more, in terms of technologies enabling content scalability for clients. 

Speaking at the panel moderated by Slator Commercial Director, Andrew Smart, on Scaling Content Through Technology Interoperability at SlatorCon Remote June 2022, longtime Strategic Adviser in Digital Globalization and Localization Bruno Herrmann identified three major criteria for successful content strategies for clients: scalability, flexibility, and usability.

“This is typically what I have as a skeleton for any accountant strategy, and specifically when it involves a number of languages and a number of markets,” Herrmann said. 

Herrmann also explained his preference for the term “partners” rather than “vendors,” noting that business and language partners can synchronize content and supply chains with customer experience chains. 

“When I look at where the industry is going now, I think working with business partners is really essential to help turn localization into a profit driver and not just a service,” Herrmann added.

Acolad’s VP of Products, Petra Angeli, described how an LSP can act as a partner for clients whose technological requirements are not yet set in stone.

“As professional language experts and providers, we have worked through supporting many clients and diverse requirements,” Angeli said. “We might be able to offer solutions that they haven’t been exposed to.” 

These solutions, of course, often include integrations, connectors, and plug-ins developed by third parties for various content management systems. 

Deepan Patel, Senior Solution Architect at Memsource, described the process of working with an LSP as entailing strong collaboration. Together, partners scope out the end-client’s requirements to decide which elements of their respective tech stacks will be most appropriate for the project at hand.

And how does Memsource gauge its success at integrating with a bespoke TMS at an LSP? One important aspect of performance, Patel explained, relates to the usability of the platform for a range of client stakeholders — in particular, what kind of data the platform provides that can help clients make informed business decisions related to localization.

Evaluating the success or quality of a partner’s deliverables depends on how KPIs are defined, Herrmann pointed out. 

“The challenge that I’ve seen many times is that it takes some time to agree on the KPIs that will need to be used during the measurement of performance,” he said. “Otherwise, performance measurement can be quite subjective.”

Having discussed the long-term product strategy behind technology R&D at LSPs, and the need for a transparent roadmap for clients, partners, and internal contributors, Angeli mused on the advisability of a major, multimillion-dollar LSP (hypothetically) operating with completely outsourced tech.

“[The third party] might be a partner, but you do not control their strategy, where they go with their innovation, or whether they want to innovate at all. You’re limiting your capability to innovate further, as well as introducing risk to your company,” Angeli said. “Maybe it’s possible, but is it ideal? Perhaps not, because it’s not serving your customers the best.”