Boston Broadside
March/April 2002
Vol. 59,  No. 4
    Newsletter of the Boston Chapter of the Society for Technical Communication


Copyright © STC Boston 2002

Program Report

Developing Successful Global Products:
Special Technical Communication Issues

By Anne Louiselle

  Robert Sprung
  Robert Sprung describes his book Translating into Success: Cutting-Edge Strategies for Going Multilingual in a Global Age
  Photo by Anne Louiselle
The STC Boston's Globalization Talk Show was held on January 23, 2002, at the Sheraton-Lexington Inn. The panel, moderated by Hans Fenstermacher, featured four panel speakers: Dori Hale, Don DePalma, Robert Sprung, and Bonnie Jo Collins.

Hans Fenstermacher, ArchiText Inc.

Hans Fenstermacher is President and founder of ArchiText Inc., a localization and globalization services provider. He defined these services in greater detail.

"Localization is the process of modifying a product for a specific local market. This primarily involves translation into that market's language, but may also involve format and layout changes, legal and regulatory adjustments, and local branding issues. Localization projects include, for example, the translation of a software UI into French for Canada, translation of product documentation into German, or creation of a print ad for Latin America."

Globalization (sometimes used synonymously with internationalization) is the process of designing and structuring a product so it can be localized as quickly and easily as possible. Globalization includes writing a software product from scratch so it does not need to be recoded for other languages (for example, double-byte languages like Japanese), creating content that maximizes reuse or single-sourcing (ArchiText's ABREVE process addresses this objective), and structuring a product so it can be adapted easily to the preferences of local markets around the world (for example, writing software code that detects the local OS and brings up the corresponding UI automatically), Fenstermacher said.

  Globalization Talk Show panelists
  Globalization Talk Show panelists Dori Hale of Eastman Kodak, Don DePalma of Common Sense Advisory, Hans Fenstermacher of ArchiText, Robert Sprung of Lionbridge Technologies, and Bonnie Jo Collins of 3Com
  Photo by Anne Louiselle

Change as Challenge:
Dori Hale, Eastman Kodak

Dori Hale has been managing localization projects in software, documentation, and Web sites for Eastman Kodak Company since 1994. Hale's responsibilities have touched on nearly every facet of the client side of the business.

"Kodak has international recognition. The challenge is not creating a global presence, but rather preserving it in a changing environment," said Hale. "Kodak is evolving from a chemical-based business to a digital-based business. The goals are to make money, gain market share, and preserve a brand that already has cachet around the world."

"Because the Kodak brand is based on 'touchy-feely' concepts like 'the Kodak moment,' it requires a particularly careful understanding of languages and cultures when localizing it. Many colloquialisms that we use such as the phrase 'share moments, share life' are hard to translate in other cultures. The challenge is to be sensitive with regard to different cultures, relationships, and languages."

Choose International Markets for Real Business Reasons:
Don DePalma, Common Sense Advisory, Inc.

Donald A. DePalma, Ph.D., is president of Common Sense Advisory, Inc., a Chelmsford-based consultancy specializing in the business- and marketing-focused application of technology.

Don DePalma focused his comments on the business and strategic aspects of globalization, noting that "many planners become overwhelmed when they realize there are around 190 countries in the world." However, he asserted that "if you focus on the business reasons for globalizing your business or your Web site, only about a dozen countries in the world truly matter. The challenge for most executives is to figure out which matter most to your company. And in this down market, making a strong case for any international activity will be the most critical element of any globalization plan."

  Linda Hocker, Maryjane Long, Arline Stith
  Sara Matousek of Cisco and Colleen Strahs of Divine
  Photo by Anne Louiselle
He said many firms start their analysis with the traditional four P's of marketing: product, price, promotion, and place. "In my conversations with many early adopters," DePalma noted, "I have isolated three more P's that dictate how they should think about new markets. First, they should survey the 'portability' or suitability of their products for international markets. In other words, is there are need or demand for what they sell? Second, they must consider the online 'penetration' of a given market. If they rely on the Web to describe their value proposition, they will need a big-enough target population to have access to it. Finally, they have to bear in mind the "polity"that is, the national, church, or non-governmental bodies that have some legal or moral authority over business conducted in target markets. Once you combine these considerations with corporate revenue targets, market share goals, and other critical business objectives, which markets you should focus on should be quite clear."

A former principal analyst at Forrester Research, DePalma lectures and writes frequently on the topics of online marketing technologies, content management, high-end application development, knowledge management and globalization. His book, Business Without Borders: A Strategic Guide to Global Marketing, will be published in May by John Wiley & Sons.

For more information about his book, visit or your favorite online bookseller and search for "Business without Borders." For information about Don's globalization consulting practice, visit

Keys to Translation Success:
Robert Sprung, Lionbridge Technologies

  Katie McIndoo, Trang Dao
  Katie McIndoo and Trang Dao, Business Development Managers for Bowne Global Solutions
  Photo by Anne Louiselle
Robert Sprung is Vice President of Business Development for regulated industries at Lionbridge Technologies. Sprung founded Harvard Translations, a technical translation company that provided technical translation services to TIME Magazine.

In the past 10 years, he has seen many changes in the roles of time and technology.

Sprung urges technical communicators to consider the time factor carefully. "Remember to use translation memory effectively. If you use a sentence from a prior version of an operating manual, you won't have to pay as much for translation the second time. If only a fraction of the material is updated, efficient use of translation memory means your localization costs will only be a fraction of the original localization cost."

Sprung advocates implementing technology effectively. One example that he provided was the use of automated or machine translation. "Although machine translation doesn't always work, notable successful companies such as Caterpillar, a leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, natural gas engines, and industrial gas turbines, have successfully used it. And, for certain applications, it works. Learn more about machine translation. There may be a way to use it in a certain, niche application."

Sprung has served as editor of Language International for the past four years. He is the editor of the book Translating into Success: Cutting-Edge Strategies for Going Multilingual in a Global Age. The book describes how companies are solving problems, such as how Kodak has cut cycle time and how Microsoft has managed costs. To obtain copies of the book Translating into Success, contact Robert Sprung directly at or via telephone at (617) 868-6800 x244.

  Linda Hocker, Maryjane Long, Arline Stith
  Linda Hocker of Divine, Maryjane Long of Aspen Technology, and Arline Stith of Kewill E-commerce
  Photo by Anne Louiselle

Challenges: A Manager's Point of View:
Bonnie Jo Collins, 3Com Corporation

Bonnie Jo Collins works for 3Com Corporation's Communications Solutions Group. Because 3Com's products include Voice-over-IP telephones, Collins must manage localization for voice prompts as well as for the GUI, hardware labels, and user books.

Collins advises managers to treat localization as another project and plan accordingly. "Planning requires time. Nan Fritz (past president of the Boston Chapter) once told me that planning is the one activity in which, the more a project needs it, the less time is allowed for it."

Collins had some specific advice for those who inherit new localization projects. "Before you go out and get a cost estimate, read through the English version first. Don't perpetuate errors from past versions. Also, prepare a detailed schedule before you send out bids so you can set expectations about review cycles, work required from other departments such as software engineering, and so on."

Once you determine the costs, she advised, work with your sales and marketing people to figure out, from an international perspective, how many more incremental systems you can sell if you spend this money. Then you'll know whether the effort is worth the time and cost.

Work with vendors effectively. "The bottom line is, leverage all you can from your localization vendors. Maybe they can do a lot of the desktop publishing for you as well as the translations."

Finally, "Ask your colleagues many questions, because we are all facing different aspects of this challenge. They may well have solved the very problems that you are struggling with." If these topics interest you, visit the Quick Topic chat thread that was started by several of the people who were at the STC discussion:

STC Programs

Attendees described the program as "informative and thought provoking," with a "good variety of perspectives and experiences." To learn more about STC's upcoming Boston programs, visit the Programs section of the STC Boston Chapter Web site (

Anne Louiselle has been a member of the STC since 1997. Anne can be reached at .