In the language business we manage lots of data. It comes in all sorts of formats, from various platforms and applications, and our job is to translate this data into a myriad of different languages, as efficiently as possible, before giving it back to be harnessed.
As companies try to manage data more cleverly and reduce redundant processes, integration is the name of the game, not just for translations but at an ever increasing number of applications.
I attended an event recently where a retailer was talking about API integration from their ecommerce platform (Magento) into their automated marketing tool (Marketo) and the importance of being able to build their activity around live data. Without integration they would have poor data, without data there could be no automation, which would have a significant impact on revenue.
Obviously the language industry and its customers want the same conversation: data driven from a platform into a digital project workflow. A light touch approach on both sides with no export/import, no manual handling of files and an end to end process means translated content goes back the same way post-project, direct into the platform to be used.
However, this presents a challenge because it is hard to cover every base. Obviously we have outward facing APIs, as do a lot of our peers, which can be hooked into any number of “platforms”. Although it is a straightforward process to create a data integration, creating a translation workflow tool directly from the user interface in these platforms is more challenging.
Also, in the example above while Marketo and Magento might be connected, in order to access the separate data streams for translation (outbound customer communications from Marketo; product data from Magento) translation providers would need to hook into both platforms to give a real end to end digital solution.
So while we have integrations out of the box, with the ability to manage content for translation from that single view, the sheer scale of choices of what to do next makes it a challenge to line up strategy and investment.
E-commerce (both B2C and B2B) is ripe for integration. In this industry there is countless dynamic product content, lots of languages, and a very time sensitive, fast-moving business model. Platforms to aid this include Magento, Demandware, Hybris, Intershop, Oracle, IBM, Netsuite to name but a few and this plethora of choice is repeated in other content rich environments.
So as lists seem to be the future, here is a list of some the potential points of integration that we regularly see:
PIM (Product Information Management) / MDM (Master Data Management) systems:
Stibo, In River, Infomatica, Hybris, Agility Multichannel etc.
Drupal, Squiz, Sitecore, Episerver, sharepoint etc.
Dynamic content creation and Digital asset management:
Amplience, Adobe etc.
Pentagon, Channel Advisor, Blue Pearl, eSellerpro, Linn Works etc.
Elquia, hubspot, marketo, pardot etc.
Confirmit, Askia etc.
You can see where I am going with this. Complete multiple integration across all platforms is probably not practical because of the number of options and the fact that this data might be sitting in different places for different companies.
Some API providers, like Mulesoft, have tried to deal with this via a universal API connector, SFTP via hot folders still does a good job, Clay Tablet (prior to acquisition) were steering a course of platform vendor neutrality. So some companies are trying to fill the gap but it still makes it difficult to be all things to all people.
So where does that leave us? Despite what I have said about complexity, data integration is the way everyone has to go. We certainly believe in it but I guess for the minute we will have to keep investing, building, developing and hoping we back the right horse. I would love to know how other people are dealing with this challenge, answers on a post card or via API?
*Photo credits: Tashatuvango / Shutterstock.com