Today language technology vendor MultiCorpora announced the general availability of Prism, its new composite product that covers the full spectrum of translation management technology. Prism fuses MultiCorpora’s latest desktop translation environment and server-based translation memory (MultiTrans) with the business and process management solution the company acquired last year (Beetext).
As we’ve described in research since 2007, translation management systems (TMS) arose in one of three areas: business management, workflow, and language processing (centralized translation memory). The workflow systems easily gained business and language features and are generally considered to be the enterprise-class TMS options. What’s happened in the last few years is that both business-oriented and language-oriented systems gradually assumed workflow and process management features as well, essentially meeting in the middle while still claiming to be point solutions (see “Evolution and Revolution in Translation Management,” May08). This in turn led to numerous partnerships between business management and language processing-style TMS offerings; for instance, MultiTrans plus Plunet, XTRF plus XTM, and various combinations for MemoQ, including Flow.
MultiCorpora assures us it will keep the main components of Prism (MultiTrans and Flow) open for continued integration with other tools. This move will reassure existing joint customers – but only for the near term. For the long run, the installed base will doubtless be encouraged to upgrade to take advantage of new features and capabilities, much of which will require the combined offering of Prism.
In any software segment, sellers of point solutions claim best-of-breed status and pat themselves on the back about how everyone agrees point solutions are best (see "The Lure of One-Stop Shopping for Language Software," Nov10). But actions speak louder than words, and technology vendors often consolidate their point solutions into broader product lineups as their market matures. This is what happened with MultiCorpora buying Beetext. As the market develops, experienced buyers are more likely to ask for seamless rather than point solutions. Since the systems must be paired anyway, why not have a single license, a single support contract, a single product roadmap – and a single escalation path for accountability in what is often a mission critical business process in support of product and service delivery for commercial clients.
The release of Prism signals a new stage in the adoption life cycle of translation management technology. Competitors on both sides of the TMS divide should take note. For independent competitors of the traditional MultiTrans product such as Kilgray and XTM, they can claim a bigger share of a shrinking market for point solutions. For business-type TMS vendors such as LTC’s Agile, Plunet, and XTRF, they should consider whether the time is right to select a permanent partner via mergers and acquisition before all the dancers are gone from the dance floor.