Acrolinx announced that it will launch a cloud-based version of its IQ content analytics and information quality software. With this release, the company targets a much broader range of organizations with content quality issues but lacking the deep pockets or in-house IT support that IQ to date has required. Last week founder and CEO Andrew Bredenkamp briefed us on the upcoming changes.
Acrolinx will celebrate its tenth anniversary as a company early next year. It entered the market in 2004 with a style guide automation tool called Acrocheck. That product, and then Acrolinx IQ, accumulated an increasingly powerful array of analytic and quality control features since we first wrote about it in the Global Watchtower and in our research (see “Beyond Global Websites,” Mar05).
As the products evolved, Bredenkamp considered but decided not to build a dumbed-down Acrocheck Lite. Instead, he focused on high-ticket sales to companies such as Adobe, IBM, and Symantec. As demand from smaller enterprises and companies with smaller teams of writers pushed for access, Acrolinx turned to partners such as Content Rules (née Oak Hill Corp.) to provide a cloud-based deployment model and writing services. On the higher end, rather than build out its own professional services, Acrolinx looked to Experis (née Manpower and Comsys) to do the heavy lifting of integration with content management solutions.
Common Sense Advisory has long contended that companies must take control of the content beast rather than just feeding it more pixels, paper, and PDFs, however more efficiently. Our research has shown that few organizations know what it costs to write a word, but invoices for content and translation management systems (CMS and TMS) evidence the high price of maintaining, updating, and translating them (see “How Much Does Content Cost,” Feb11). With its targeting of different corporate content functions, Acrolinx is taking aim at an array of pain points in an enterprise’s content strategy (see “Content Source Optimization,” May10, and “Content Strategy for the Global Enterprise,” Apr11).
Specifically, Acrolinx is making three major changes to meet customer needs across a broader and deeper range of company sizes:
- The cloud. “Acrolinx IQ in the Cloud” provides all the functions of IQ in a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. Pricing starts at US$99 per month versus the original on-site deployments at tens of thousands of dollars. This lower price point combined with the cloud should prove much more appealing to small businesses or larger companies with small writing teams. The cloud will be the preferred deployment model for Acrolinx.
- New interfaces. Recognizing that corporate content strategies embrace a broad range of requirements, Acrolinx will develop targeted versions of its software. CEO Bredenkamp identified marketing communications, engineering interface development, technical content, localization, customer engagement, and market analytics as the functions it will support.
What are the problems that Acrolinx fixes? Badly formulated content, inconsistency within and across an organization, and deviation from corporate style guides. These changes to Acrolinx IQ and its deployment options should go a long way toward enabling organizations to address the huge amounts of non-conforming and bad content they harbor and continue to create by the second (see “Too Many Words Threaten to Strangle Business,” Aug04). The need to translate into multiple languages exacerbates the problem (see “Writing for Global Audiences,” Nov10).
- Repository. Acrolinx is repositioning its database as the underlying active storage and management nexus for all its function-specific tools. This storehouse will unify the different tools, providing classic repository functions such as where a term is used and how often.
Acrolinx has identified a huge, seemingly intractable beast. Will it succeed in conquering it? The challenge to Acrolinx – and to competitors such as Across-derived Congree, SDL Global Authoring Management, and Tedopres – will be to educate potential markets on the various problems that comprise these core content strategy issues, develop tools that actually address them with the levels of usability that users will adopt, and then sell those solutions throughout an organization. Given the size of the company and the enormity of the content strategy issue, Acrolinx can succeed by solving parts of the problem even if it doesn’t accomplish the much bigger task of convincing companies to view their disparate content systems holistically.
At the same time, Acrolinx must increase the visibility of its offering to the market, no small task for a growing technology-driven software company. Over the years Acrolinx has developed a long list of partners for various content-related tools, ranging from everyday creation tools (Adobe, AuthorIT, Microsoft, and XMetal) to engineering tools (Eclipse) to terminology (Interverbum) to translation tools (Kilgray, Lucy, and STAR). However valuable partnering deals are, what would be much more useful to Acrolinx’s market ambitions – and its ability to satisfy the markets it is targeting – would be actual distribution deals with content-creation software companies such as Adobe and with large-scale enterprise integrators such as IBM Global and Infosys.