American veterans returned from World War II with big dreams for starting big families — and enterprising real estate developers were all too happy to oblige. Over the next few decades, the nation’s rapidly expanding network of roads would carry a significant portion of the population out of crowded urban centers and into newly-constructed suburban communities.
Corporate content is currently following a similar pattern of sprawl.
With businesses eager to increase content production rates, digital publishing activity has naturally diffused across the organization. The strategy of installing a single, centralized webmaster has given way to a policy of empowering multiple, distributed contributors — and savvy software developers have been all too happy to oblige.
Customers intrigued by emails drafted in Marketo now land on websites run on Drupal connected to stores managed in Magento selling products supported via Zendesk. Multiply this dispersal by a few departments, regions, and product lines, and it’s easy to see how even the simplest brand experience could carry the fingerprints of several dozen colleagues.
The Challenge With Distributed Content
Content sprawl is by no means a bad development. Democratizing production has enabled brands to significantly increase the speed and scale of their content strategies in response to the demands of increasingly curious consumers. At the same time, reducing dependency on any one platform improves IT resiliency.
This decentralized approach can pose problems, however, when companies want to make the conversation multilingual.
The manual methods traditionally used to gather and prepare text for translation aren’t faring well in the age of distributed storage and agile production. By the time project managers complete the tedious work of collecting files from every corner of the organization and pasting text strings into spreadsheets, the content translators see is oftentimes already out of date. And with email check-ins as the only method of accountability, there’s no telling when those translations will actually be ready to publish.
As a result, more brands are watching their localization deadlines fly by and wondering whether it’s even possible to offer a consistent customer experience across multiple languages.
Fighting Software With Software
Fighting against sprawl as a structural strategy will always be an uphill battle for frustrated localization managers. Executives who appreciate the value of content enough to add a multilingual layer are among the least likely to consider consolidating production, and their IT teams are only venturing further into the age of service-oriented architecture.
But while the policies that create content sprawl may not change anytime soon, the technologies supporting it certainly can.
Instead of personally hunting down text strings managed by dozens of teammates and tools, wouldn’t it be better if those people and platforms independently volunteered their updates and packaged them into a translation-ready format? That’s a dream scenario any company can achieve simply by building automated connections between their content systems and a centralized translation management system.
These connections can be forged in several ways. Pre-built connectors can carry text to and from the most popular platforms while a custom API solution can pair just as nicely with less common or more sophisticated systems. In cases where sprawl is especially intense, or speed is an absolute priority, a translation proxy often emerges as the preferred approach.
Whichever method(s) teams ultimately apply, these bridges and roads form the crucial foundation of every localization strategy that creates sanity from sprawl. Because until your content can efficiently commute to and from a shared city center, traffic jams will continue to paralyze translation progress.
Study one of the most powerful solutions to content sprawl in Translation Proxy Technology: What, How & Why.