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CMS, GCMS, GMS, and TMS -- Content Management, Translation, and Globalization Terms Explained
Posted by Donald A. DePalma on November 29, 2006  in the following blogs: Technology, Translation and Localization
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This week several conferences focused on content management and flotillas of content professionals docked in Boston with globalization on their minds -- at CM Pros, Gilbane, and IQPC events. Don DePalma keynoted the CM Pros conference with "Content Management and the Global Enterprise: No Content Left Behind." Later this week Renato Beninatto will speak about aligning business goals with globalization initiatives at the IQPC show.

Product categorization in the content management space was at issue during some CM Pros break-out sessions. From interviews conducted this year we know it will be an active topic at all 3 conferences and for many corporate teams determining their CMS futures. Based on our research into content and translation management, here are some definitions to help clear up the confusion:

  • "Content management" refers to the business processes and system software used to capture, store, manage, and distribute text, images, and other digitized information. Specialized CMS software supports these aspects of content publishing, while "enterprise content management" or ECM seeks to solve all problems on a single platform. Content management software does workflow, version control for document check-in and check-out, and other functions that let users concurrently manipulate content and publish it to a variety of devices and audiences. "Global content management" (GCM) is the application of such CMS technology to multilingual and/or multinational content stores.

  • GMS or "globalization management system" is the term that suppliers like eTranslate, Global Sight, Idiom, and Uniscape originally used to describe their systems. While it sounded good, and still has some currency, it's never been credible in the corner offices or in the server room. Executives hearing this term assume such a system would encompass multinational marketing and sales, a commerce engine that works in every country and with every currency, logistics, and the thicket of law and regulations that control the movement of goods and services across national borders. The bottom line is the systems so described manage translation workflow and not much more -- that's a valuable function, but it's only a small part of globalization.

  • The term "translation management system" (TMS) much better describes what systems like Idiom WorldServer or SDL TMS actually do. As described in Common Sense Advisory's upcoming December 2006 report on this emerging product category, there are 3 types of TMS systems, respectively focused on business management for translation companies, process management for translation workgroups, and language management for centralized translation assets. These system types intersect at the point of translation workflow, and the most mature products in the category have subsumed all 3 functional areas.

Finally, we note the obsolete category of "global content management systems" (GCMS). Although some softare vendors and pundits still talk about it, this sector no longer exists. GCMS is what GMS vendors started calling themselves in 2002 as they struggled to find a niche in the marketplace. Trying to stay above water, some began actively competing as full replacements for their enterprise CMS partners. However, over the last 18 months none of the erstwhile GCMS vendors -- Idiom, SDL GXT (née Trados), TMS, or Translations (with the eTranslate product) -- have positioned themselves as offering a full-fledged CMS. The term only persists as an artifact of their "survival at any cost" days.


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Keywords: Global content management, Globalization management systems, Multilingual content technologies, Translation, Translation management systems, Translation technologies

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