Is Translation Ready for a Digital Ecosystem?

by Rikkert Engels, on Dec 3, 2019 4:44:50 PM

This November, Gartner stated at their yearly IT expo to 7.000 CIO’s to “never ever renew non-API-first software.” Luckily, 90% of the top 10 enterprise software vendors now offer API-first products. But things are a bit different if we look at the translation industry.


Let's head back to the year 2000. Software vendors were happily selling enterprise suites using relationship sales tactics. At that time, this was a powerful and effective way to sell – mainly customizable – software. For everybody outside of the translation industry, this changed in 2010 when the enterprise suites turned into platforms and the sales methods changed accordingly. Sales Engineers were representing the product solutions by setting up, presenting and explaining feature benefits to future customers.

Then in 2015, the industry moved to an API-first approach. Products were sold with developers in mind as they are the key advocates and real decision makers in the company. They were not the ones to say yes, but they are certainly the ones that can say no! Your products has to work within their landscape and needs to be as open as possible. As stated, 90% of the top 10 enterprise software are now primarily API-first in their design.

This will lead to a digital ecosystem economy in 2020. As McKinsey experts state in their 2018 Digital McKinsey Insights[1]: “A world of ecosystems will be a highly customer centric model, where users can enjoy an end-to-end experience for a wide range of products and services through a single access gateway, without leaving the ecosystem.”

This new ecosystem economy will have a massive impact on the industry and will lead to huge winners and many losers. The top vendors in the translation industry have become successful by selling enterprise suites through a relationship driven sales model. Most of the challengers are trying to copy that 'proven' go-to-market. But their clients are living in a completely different world. An ecosystem economy requires open, API-first products, headless and developer friendly products. With that, a seamless cooperation between enterprises, translation tech providers and language service providers can then become a reality.

Connectors are our area of expertise. I have seen many of the top LSP’s connectors. And I can guarantee that they are not API-first and certainly not usable within an ecosystem setting. It is also my observation that clients accept this as they mostly judge their LSP’s on their account management skills. They don’t judge them on their technical skills. Is that maybe because the technical skills were simply not there? Or is it because it did not really matter anyway who you would invite. They kind of all follow the same enterprise suite approach.

It is my belief though that clients would very much welcome technical innovation and that translation is more than ready for an ecosystem approach. We will do our best to play a facilitating role in this by making LocHub as open, TAPICC compliant and as standard as possible. The LocHub platform is open for both LSP’s to automate their translation technology and back-end processes and for enterprises to automate their content and translation technology processes. And as both work through the same open headless API-first middleware, seamless cooperation between LSP’s and enterprises will become a reality.  



Topics:APItranslation industry


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