Shrinking the Software Development Triangle by Lingoport


									Shrinking the Triangle
This article was originally featured in the Oct./Nov. 2010 issue of MultiLingual Computing Magazine, in
Adam Asnes’ Business Side column. Read the article “Shrinking the Triangle” on MultiLingual’s Website or

Good, Quick, and Cheap?
Good, quick, cheap – pick any two. Project managers will tell you this project triangle is the way it has to
be. Fair enough in the short run, but there is a dynamic perspective to this particular triangle that static
view will ignore.

Fulfilling New Market Vistas and Adaptation
                                A truism of technology is that it serves as a great flattener, ultimately
                                destroying pricing and economies in one area, only to give rise to new and
                                hopefully broadening opportunities. The rise and effect of communication
                                technologies that join markets, customers and workers are a remarkable
                                example accelerating change in the speed of fulfilling new market vistas
                                and adaptation. Our industry thrives in this, connecting products,
                                messages, vendors, clients and communities in far flung cultures. Yet, the
                                barrier to entering the localization industry is really not so tough. You need
                                a bit of expertise, contacts, some sales savvy and you’re in business. No
expensive machinery or large capitalization needed. But at some point, you are going to need something
to help you shrink the distances separating good, quick and cheap.

So how’s business? And if you’re on the client side, how are your budgets? It seems our industry hasn’t
seen the brunt of revenue devastation that many others have in the current economic slowdown. And as
some measure of that, recent vendor and buyer surveys from Common Sense Advisory have provided
more than anecdotal support for relative industry strength and confidence – even if vendors seem to be
more optimistic than clients. On a personal level, this in turn feeds my confidence as a business owner to
expand offerings, spend more on R&D, marketing, and (gasp), even hire new employees.

On Internationalization
Software internationalization, which is what my firm concentrates on, is actually a pretty good harbinger
of the mood of the tech industry. That’s because internationalization requires a fresh and significant
investment in future revenues, rather than maintaining localization on an existing product distribution
                                              release schedule. In fact, internationalization can stick out as
                                              a pretty large budget item at a time when tech companies
                                              have done well to minimize expenses and maximize profits on
                                              less to flat revenues. And while you never want to believe too
                                              deeply in generalized economic trajectories when getting
                                              specific about company forecasts, the investors’ expression
                                              “the trend is your friend” comes to mind. This means the
                                              onus has never been stronger on emphasizing the business
                                              case for internationalization and ultimately succeeding in new
                                              markets, while also finding new ways to bring together best
  Watch as Industry professionals discuss
 shrinking the good, quick & cheap triangle   of breed technology and people to make the work cost less
                                              with more predictability. It’s a great story, but the pressure
                                              remains on to tighten that triangle. Internationalization and
localization must compete with any number of other potential revenue opportunities, strategic initiatives
and cost pressures.
        I don’t want to imply that there isn’t a great deal of truth behind the good, quick or cheap
triangle, but we are especially pressed to tighten the space between those choices. Whenever I hear
someone use that saying (it’s usually when someone is trying to sell me something) I’m always looking
for a way out. How do we continuously find ways to produce better things, faster and for a lower cost?
That’s what the promise of technology, combined with improved people processes and greater access to
knowledge all have to offer. But particularly in the localization industry, at some point, it’s challenging to
get around human processes that don’t scale so well, so we are back to good, quick, cheap – pick any
two. Yet we all chip away at this, finding ways to move code or words along faster, better, cheaper. This
is basic principle of technical advancement, but often in the throw of daily work, do we give ourselves the
time to map out and affect these three competing attributes at once? When we talk with our managers
and clients, are we given the latitude, time and budget to change processes and technologies even in the
face of competing budget demands?

Tightening the Triangle
In many cases, the methods of tightening the triangle may not even reside within your firm, or your
vendor’s firm. In fact, it may be healthier to look beyond any all-in-one offering. For instance, my firm
has been partnering with many vendors right from its inception. We focus on
providing internationalization tools and development services, a software development endeavor.
Software development is a highly different skill set than managing words for localization, so a natural
partnership opportunity arises, as does the potential for misunderstandings (see: Bridging the Gap
between Software Development and Localization). We also just began a partnership with a company with
a product that supports internationalized documentation writing. That’s a natural fit that only benefits
customers. So it makes sense to partner companies, and then take it one step further by integrating
processes and services together for an outcome that reduces the size of the triangle. Note that I’m not
just referring about trading logo’s on websites, which is partnering in name only.
Exports to from Germany to China are up by almost 60% this year. No other segment of German foreign
trade is growing as quickly. It follows that this kind of economic relationship ties nations, politics,
workforces, just as much as goods and services. We are seeing the triangle getting smaller in action.
Though China rightfully gets lots of press, there are other places having very exciting growing trends. In
fact, the fastest forecasted economic GDP growth rate for 2010 is actually from Qatar (16.4% – 2010 to 2020 has been predicted to be the African decade, with rapid growth
forecast for many nations on that continent. How will this affect our triangle and our industry? Probably
quite nicely!

There Will Be Winners and Losers
                                                 But there’s more to this equation. With these trends for
                                                 global markets gaining purchasing power, there is also
                                                 ample opportunity for the flow of technology to go the
                                                 other way. All that market diversity, along with developing
                                                 labor shakes things up. One would hope that the
                                                 opportunities make up for the commercial pricing stress
                                                 that could accompany expansion, but there will be winners
                                                 and losers. Additionally, we can expect new opportunities
                                                 from untraditional channels. For example, we currently
From Worldware Localization Conference:
                                                 have a new client which is essentially a financial group that
The Rise of Chindia – Opportunity or Threat?
                                                 purchased Chinese technology and is remarketing it
elsewhere. In this case, they are not considering entering the US market just yet, but starting in places
like India where competition is not so dense. So they are buying good technology for less money, to sell
to new markets with lower barriers to entry. I’d call that a creative way to tighten the triangle.

About Lingoport
Founded in 2001, Lingoport provides extensive software localization and internationalization consulting
services. Lingoport’s Globalyzer software, a market leading software internationalization tool, helps entire
enterprises and development teams to effectively internationalize existing and newly developed source
code and to prepare their applications for localization.

                                    An Introduction to Lingoport’s Globalyzer:

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