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Feature

Right Info In The Right Language

Software lets Parametric keep Web information current in local languages.
Rapid collaboration between workers is increasingly important in tough economic times, but language barriers and cultural differences can hinder communication when employees are located around the globe. That was the problem faced by Parametric Technology Corp., a $1 billion-a-year Needham, Mass., company that provides product-development applications to clients such as Accenture, Airbus Industrie, and John Deere.

Dan Starr, VP of E-business for Parametric

WorldServer will save money on staffing costs, Parametric VP Starr says.
"Previously, we operated as a U.S. company with global subsidiaries," says Dan Starr, VP of E-business for Parametric. But that doesn't cut it now that nearly 60% of the company's customers are outside North America.

The majority of Parametric's 19 international Web sites are six to nine months out of date, Starr estimates. "It gets to the point that customers are using new products, but there's no information on the local Web site," he says.

Parametric's partners, suppliers, contractors, manufacturers, and other members of its product life cycle are also an increasingly global group, so the company wanted its Web sites to reflect the local language. "We believe talking in the local languages will help substantially with customer satisfaction and loyalty," Starr says.

The company turned to globalization software from Idiom Corp., WorldServer 5.0, which starts at about $50,000. The application has tools to help with language translation and lets users set business rules so content that's been altered on a centralized Web site is automatically fed to Web sites in other locations.

Parametric also plans to use WorldServer to manage the globalization of technical support content, marketing documents, and internal communication. "We've seen the same business document among the sales folks be translated 10 times and get a different message each time," says Starr. "Now it will be on a more consistent and efficient basis."

Analysts say content-management and globalization software is selling well in a weak IT market. "People are investing in these systems for the reason that content has ballooned out of control with inadequate homegrown systems," says Forrester Research analyst Nick Wilkoff. "One requirement we're seeing is the support for global content."

The software offers another benefit, Parametric's Starr says. "Our business goal is to act like a global company, and we couldn't do that without adding six or seven Web developers to manage content on our international sites," he says. "With WorldServer, we only need to hire one, and that's a pretty strong return on investment."