Is Translation Ready for a Digital Ecosystem?
by Rikkert Engels, on Dec 3, 2019 4:44:50 PM
At their annual IT expo last November, Gartner unequivocally told 7,000 CIOs to “never ever renew non-API-first software.” Fortunately, most top enterprise software vendors already offer API-first products. When we look at the translation industry, however, it is a different story.
Let's head back to the year 2000. Software vendors were happily selling enterprise suites using relationship tactics. This was a powerful and effective way to sell, often customized, software. This changed some ten years later as enterprise suites evolved into platform solutions. Platform selling shifted from relationship-driven to value-driven messaging.
As the size and complexity of the digital landscape expanded, API-first software solutions began to take the leading role. Today software solutions are sold with developers and system managers in mind. They are the key advocates and heavily influence decision makers’ in the company, not to mention the success of new system rollouts. Their world is vast and challenging, so solutions with open APIs are not only desired, but a key requirement. Already in many sectors, the leading software solutions are API-first by design.
In short, we are rapidly heading toward an integrated digital ecosystem economy. As McKinsey experts state in their 2018 Digital McKinsey Insights: “A world of ecosystems will be a highly customer centric model, where users can enjoy an end-to-end experience for a wide range of products and services through a single access gateway, without leaving the ecosystem.”
Many industries are already making the transition to this new reality. The translation industry, where fragmentation and few standards continue to be the norm, is not one of them. For players in the translation industry, the digital ecosystem economy means adapt or die. I expect there will be huge winners and many losers.
The top Language Service Providers (LSPs) built their success largely on enterprise suites and relationship-driven sales. This approach is faltering as clients both new and old transition to a completely different world.
So far, LSPs and translation tech providers have been trying to manage with custom connectors to connect to independent systems. I have seen many of the top LSPs’ connectors. They are most certainly not API-first, and they are totally inadequate for building seamless ecosystems.
It is also my observation that clients accept this connector approach as they mostly judge their LSP on other factors like account-level KPIs and translation quality, rather than technical skills. Is that maybe because the technical skills were simply not expected? Or is it because it did not really matter anyway? Whatever the reason, it leaves IT and project managers to battle in the trenches with finicky connectors that tend to remain minimum viable solutions throughout their lifespan.
Success in the digital ecosystem economy necessitates adopting open, API-first solutions in the translation industry that are headless and developer friendly. With that, seamless cooperation between enterprises, translation tech providers and LSPs can become a reality.
I firmly believe LSP clients would very much welcome innovations that allow translations to become part of their digital ecosystem. We at Xillio will do our best to play a facilitating role in this by making LocHub as open, TAPICC compliant and as standard as possible.
We learned that most content is not directly sent to the translation service provider. But most often it is converted into a format that can be processed by the translation service provider. This causes a bad client experience, higher costs and longer turnaround times. LocHub aims at solving that bottleneck by integrating directly from the content management system into the translation technology.
LocHub enables LSPs to automate their translation technology and backend processes, and at the same time gives enterprises the means to optimize their content and translation management processes. As an API-first middleware, LocHub forms the cornerstone of smooth digital cooperation between LSPs and clients.
The underlying principle of LocHub is to have a single source of truth across the entire content landscape of an ecosystem. It’s like the central nervous system of content management, connecting all sources of content with all sources of translations, and keeping each element up to date across the whole system.
Today LocHub comes with 26 integrations out-of-the-box, and we are constantly developing and adding more. We understand how essential multilingual content is for the customer experience. With LocHub, Xillio is committed to helping LSPs and their clients meet this goal in the new digital ecosystem economy.