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Language and Global PLM deployment

Thanks to Oleg Shilovitsky for this story

These days everything is going global. Manufacturing is not an exception from this rule. Design anywhere, build anywhere, support anywhere – you can hear it very often from manufacturing companies these days. Speaking about design, engineering and manufacturing software, you can be easy design things in U.S., use some engineering consulting company in Europe and manufacturing in China. I assume, every company these days can dream about running like Apple globally – Apple turns over entire inventory every five days. In global environment, to get language support and localization right are the most important elements of global deployment. User experience is one the topics that companies are paying more attention these days. Consumer-oriented companies, web site and mobile applications are setting stage and expectation for how things can (and should) be done these days.

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Recently, I came across a couple of interesting article related to user experience, mobile and localization in User Experience magazine online. One of them – Taking mobile global is talking about localization of website and mobile applications. The following interesting diagram shows the level of language support by website and mobile tools.

The following quote summarizes to 10 languages that expected to be supported. I wonder what is the statistic among engineering and manufacturing software.

That said, the languages supported by major mobile apps are generally the same as those supported on PC sites when viewed in aggregate. A study of 25 mobile apps (including ones made by Facebook, Google, Apple, and Twitter) that support five or more languages found that the top 10 languages supported overall, ranked by popularity, were English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese (simplified), Dutch, Japanese, Russian.

Another writeup from UXmob – 6 Key Questions to Guide International UX Research is presenting a good action list for every company thinking about provide global software. It includes technological and business topics. In addition to that I found the following statement about localization failures and the need to work with local resources very important.

Products may fail (even absent competitors), and competitors with deeper customer insight may gain a better position with a more user-centric product. International UX research is important even in countries or regions with customers who speak the same language, as regional differences in nomenclature, cultural norms, and customer needs can dramatically impact the success of a product or service….

Finding internal local champions can help to improve buy-in from global stakeholders, and working across regions helps engage international teams and encourage collaboration and innovation.

PLM – going global

I believe almost all topics raised by UXMag are applicable on engineering and manufacturing software and PLM specifically. However, I want to raise a question – what is different and specific in Product Lifecycle Management that company needs to think about when going globally. One of the aspects is the language. When development and manufacturing processes are spanned globally, to provide an appropriate unified language support is important. On the other side, local language translations can be beneficial. Automatic translation can be very helpful when handling processes globally in a single language. To support alternative search and content extraction tools relying on universal meta-data (eg. Part Numbers, names, etc.) can be important too. Another aspect is related to eco-system. What language used by suppliers and partners and how to allow PLM software to be friendly to them too.

Language is only one aspect. Many local issues need to be analyzed in the context of local regulation, standards and authorities. From that standpoint, working with local partners is extremely important in that context.

What is my conclusion? Manufacturing is a global these days. CAD/PLM vendors need to think beyond traditional understanding of “language support”. To learn from the web and mobile tools can be beneficial to gather some modern localization practice. To work with local partners can be priceless. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Free images from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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