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A Look Back: XTRF Leverages Venture Capital into Market Momentum
Posted by Benjamin B. Sargent on June 8, 2016  in the following blogs: Technology
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In April 2014, we wrote about XTRF’s first round of venture capital (VC) from Experior in Warsaw. Now two years later, we looked back at how this event changed the company, and by extension, the language industry. We reviewed data in our own research database and also spoke with XTRF management. We found that by internal or external measures, the company achieved new momentum in both software and customer development activities. Starting with that investment, XTRF accelerated its release of new features and increased marketing, sales, and support operations, growing from 30 to 80 full-time employees.

We categorize XTRF’s work into three clusters of development initiatives centered on:

  • Efficiency. In 2016, the company rolled out a series of updates around simplifying and automating project management, branding various components “Smart.” Hence, Smart Connectors provide a simple way for PMs and admins to configure integrations, such as processing inbound handoffs via Google Drive, FTP, and e-mail. Smart Projects allow a straightforward approach to building custom workflow actions, letting users add machine tasks to an automated workflow. Smart Views give users an easy way to define individual reporting preferences and special reports, including creation of calculated or virtual columns.

  • Usability. Embeddable logic in the drag-and-drop action allows PMs to create projects with the swish of a mouse. Logging, analytics, and business process monitoring features bring the power of enterprise software to front-line workers at LSPs, who can take matters into their own hands and get more done with less effort. A scripting language, APIs, and a forthcoming SDK round out the offering to make customization available to LSPs with coding capabilities.

  • Productivity. Automations allow LSPs to rethink workflow assumptions, eliminating tasks so employees can focus on adding value. For example, cascading vendor assignment features give PMs the option to set up a sequence of vendors from most favored to least and passing the offer to the next pool or individual if not claimed in a specified time period. Time freed up from bid management could instead be used to improve assessments, feedback, and other tasks that boost the vendor management function.
XTRF’s initiatives raised the competitive heat in the market by inspiring innovating at archival Plunet – or at least accelerated its already steady approach to development. While Plunet added automation capabilities several years ago, the effort involved in configuration poses a challenge for users. With XTRF making waves in the market, Plunet has turned its focus on improving usability and reducing clicks. In our recent MarketFlex evaluation of business-oriented TMSes, we determined that XTRF has nearly caught up in terms of product features and market potential. However, Plunet’s own innovation and well-established market position kept it slightly ahead on both scoring fronts – for now.

As integration and automation capabilities improve for companies using XTRF and Plunet, LSPs discover that more projects can benefit from automated handoffs, machine tasks, and tailored reporting. Where in the past only certain project types were a “fit” for automation – when files and job parameters meshed with a particular TMS’s wheelhouse – now automations can be set up for any routine task. Ultimately, XTRF used its investor’s money to up the game for companies using its software – and for those using Plunet. Efficiency and productivity in one part of the market inevitably puts pressure on other companies that can’t automate so much of production. We conclude that the VC infusion for XTRF has stimulated the broader market of ISVs and LSPs.

 

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