Monday, May 21, 2007

Myth #9 - Number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9

(Play this blog backwards for the hidden messages.) As for the more overt message, I continue with the myths series:
"We've never localized this product/module/component/blidget, so it doesn't need internationalization."
It's a good thing that nothing ever changes in products, nor in markets. Oh, they do? Yes, even though your product has never been localized before, and this may be a real shock, it might be localized in the future. Whoa! And, another shock, localization is a business decision, not a technical decision. In other words, if a customer says, "We'll buy 2 million licenses for your product if you localize it into Cloqrat," you don't want to have to say, "Gee, sorry, it'll take a massive reworking of the code, say, 12 months to get that to you" since your customer will respond "That's OK, we'll just buy Microbrain's version" and then your problem will be solved because you won't ever see that customer again.

But there's more to it than that. Internationalization is a lot more than making the product localizable. It's primarily about data processing (see Myth #1). That is, even folks in the USA have to process data that is not US data. Was that another shock? I'm sorry; try some rooibos tea.


Brian said...

I remember a similar discussion like it was yesterday. The customer has bought a workflow system several years ago and it was ticking away nicely. Everybody was happy.

Then the customer reorganized its supply chain and went into global sourcing. Before long they had an office in Poland. Now the workflow system had to process Polish data. Of course it did not work (based on ISO latin-1 codepages etc.).

The customer turned around to the vendor and said "fix it!". The IT shop tried to argue the case away, but like you said - the customer threatened to choose another vendor. And so the vendor had to invest into its cash cow ... but on the other hand, the vendor has now a product to sell into other markets, too ...

(Sorry for commenting so late, but just found your blog.)

I18n G.A.L. said...

Comment anytime. I wrote those myths several years ago - still have a couple more to re-publish and 2 new ones. Just shows how enduring they are (sadly) :-|