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LISA Shuts Down Operations
Posted by Donald A. DePalma on February 28, 2011  in the following blogs: Business Globalization, Translation and Localization
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The Localization Industry Standards Association (LISA), the language industry’s oldest association, announced today that it was shutting down operations effective 28 February 2011 in order to limit further financial commitments. Nonetheless, the Standards Summit scheduled for Boston commenced as scheduled. Director Michael Anobile notified LISA members in an e-mail earlier today.

What does this mean for LISA and its members? For the past year, LISA’s management has been reaching out to other associations and companies for partnering, joint ventures, and even the transfer or sale of assets. What are LISA’s assets and how might they be distributed if LISA fails to recapitalize? We see activity around two major sets of assets:
  • Conferences. LISA has been running industry conferences for the last 20 years, some of which we’ve spoken at through the decades. In recent years, those conferences have encountered heavy competition from Localization World, commercial endeavors such as IQPC, and more recently from membership associations such as ALC, ATA, and GALA. LISA’s major strength has been in Asia. Ideally, LISA will find a way to merge its event activity with one of the stronger, growing conference or membership associations. In many ways, this would be a good thing – we’ve long argued for a single language industry conference with one or two thousand delegates instead of dozens of much smaller events.
  • Standards and specifications. The original purpose of LISA was ensconced in its very name – a “standards” organization. However, over the last two decades, LISA had succeeded in specifying only a handful of standards – TBX, TMX, and GMX. It had worked on others, but over time it became an organization that touched every aspect of the language business – setting standards, certifying compliance with standards, running conferences on a growing array of localization- and then globalization-related topics, producing research on same, and consulting on every aspect of localization and globalization. This lack of focus on its core business – setting standards – ultimately contributed to its becoming a competitor to many of the companies and associations which were its natural allies – and thus to its current financial state. The standards-setting activity should fall to OASIS or ISO, with technical committee members carrying on their work but with affiliations such as other language associations, companies producing products that deal with global content flow and languages, academics, and so on.
What does LISA’s shutdown mean? If LISA and some of the associations with which it has been communicating can come to terms, the merger of its activities with others could lead to a stronger industry with better, more heavily attended conferences and more activity on the essential tasks of setting industry standards to support the interoperability that many other technology sectors already have.


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