Archive for January, 2009


SDL Global Information Management conference

Friday 30 January, 2009

I attended this Global Information Management conference organized by SDL.  You can access most of the presentations here: Since you can see most of the content presented through the link, I’ll focus on the Q&A from the panel discussion.

Fair Isaac presented their solution as a part of a CMS (content management system) solution to their executive team.

Garmin got bogged down in the RFP process by asking too many questions from too many technical writers.

Fair Isaac has 2 translation vendors, SDL & 1 backup.  Their translation vendors are separate from their technology vendors so they can be vendor agnostic.

Smaller companies can utilize the same technologies bigger companies do by leveraging the following;

-work with an LSP (language services provider) who leverages technology

-use licensing models like SAAS (software as a service) after determining where it runs (on whose server)

-get as much out of TM (translation memory) as possible

-centralize data & the process, (most installations are still @ the department level on tight budgets)

-don’t work manually

Terminology management is a big obstacle.  Address multiple definition terms (ex. volume for Garmin) in a concept-based way.

Garmin integrates TMS (translation management system) on a string-based basis within their software development process.  Fair Isaac doesn’t really integrate the 2 yet.

Legal control needs to be separated from user stuff, then after you get the legal OK, it’s alright to proceed with the TMS.  There are no easy answers to legal issues.  ECM (enterprise content management) has failed.  Product managers can only review changes, not make them @ Fair Isaac.  Garmin’s system of legal reviews outside of TMS is not yet completely automated.

Garmin does no linguistic reviews-they’re in Kansas.  It’s also an internal technology issue, for which the technology doesn’t exist yet.

Technology has reduced turnaround times 2-3 weeks @ Garmin to retain a little time for reviews.  It’s too soon for Fair Isaac to say.  Now it’s all about working with pre-populated documents.  Continuous translation is the holy grail.

Fair Isaac & Garmin will use TMS reporting, but it doesn’t contain all of the answers.

The global slowdown is affecting both Fair Isaac & Garmin in that budgets are winnowing away & they’re not done yet.  Gilbane chipped in that business has not stopped & decisions are still being made, there are just different priorities now.  Focus is on the best customers.  The web is moving forward with social media.  SDL chimed in that we need to invest now to increase efficiencies.

My quick take-GILT (globalization, internationalization, localization, translation) is proceeding @ a rapid pace & I’m not sure that companies are keeping up with the vendors.  There are huge advantages to automating these processes which enable companies to go global much quicker.  Time’s a wastin’!


NU students immersed in China

Thursday 29 January, 2009

I found an interesting international article immersed in the Chicago Tribune magazine featuring health Getting the yang of it by Desiree Chen.  In addition to the perspectives on eastern vs. western health practices, there were some interesting revelations on cultural differences too.

“Rein describes evenings after dinner, when neighborhood people come out onto the sidewalks to dance. Just dance, to music from a boom box. Families bring kids, grandparents and pet dogs. They dance alone, in couples and in lines, and Rein often joined in. Same with the pickup ping-pong games, held on makeshift tables along the streets. Players keep their paddle with them, should they be challenged to an impromptu match.”-I used to boogie solo from time-to-time when I was living in Germany, but I think that would get some pretty weird looks here.  I hadn’t thought of table tennis as such a portable game, but I guess it works there.

“But each did come away having discovered a new aspect of themselves. The discovery helped to balance parts of their lives they hadn’t even realized were lacking…Chow, who is Chinese-American, is the first in several generations of his family to make a serious attempt to learn Chinese. Although he has taken Chinese classes for three years and had been to China before as a tourist, this trip was the first that allowed him to live the culture and to talk regularly with ordinary people. He did not know he could feel so comfortable in a place that is so different from the U.S., even though it is where his ancestry lies.”-I was the 1st & only in my family for a long time to have gone back to our roots & learned German.  When I lived there, I recognized some of our inborn (?) traits that carry on over there.  It took awhile, but now when I’m there, I’m really comfortable too.

“It is Jani who seems to have been the most deeply affected by her experience in China…The trip affected her on a more personal level too, if only temporarily. Before the trip, Jani’s days consisted of classes, work and study, with a few hours of sleep and one meal a day shoehorned in. “Balance in my life is something my parents have always pushed me to have, but I want to do so much and think I can do it by giving up sleep or a meal,” she says. “So I never seemed able to achieve it.”  Until she went to China. For two months, she was sleeping eight hours a night, eating three meals a day, and shopping with her friends. And dancing with Chinese families on the sidewalk after dinner.  “They were teaching us how to dance, and were so happy and stress-free,” she says. “I guess if people did that here we’d call them crazy.”-Many European friends of my comment on how busy & stressful lives are we live here in America.  They do in China too.  When you get away from your normal everyday routine, it just seems like you have more time to kick back, relax, & enjoy.  When I was living/working in Poland, I never read more books.  It was a welcomed luxury.


there’s a new chamber in town

Wednesday 28 January, 2009

I attended this opening night reception last week  American Southeast  Europe Chamber of Commerce wine inauguration It was a nice event.   They had sponsors & media coverage, from the old country, or so it seemed.  I even met an old friend with whom I worked @ Xerox 25 years ago.

Igor Jokanovic is 1 of the founders & President of AmSECC.  I met Igor 1 1/2 years ago @ Japan America Society event.  We exchanged cards & I let him know I was doing sprint triathlons to fight cancer.  I was quite surprised when I saw that he made a donation, without him even really knowing me.  Since then we’ve crossed paths a couple of times & wished each other well.

It’s not readily apparent from their website how AmSECC defines SouthEastern Europe.  If it’s board members are any indicator, AmSECC’s founders are from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, & Montenegro.   Taking a look @ the news section adds Serbia.  Links indicate that Macedonia fits too.   Digging deeper, it appears as if Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Kosovo, & Romania are members with chambers & embassies as well.  It looks like Turkey might also be included.  Otherwise, I don’t see it stated anywhere else what they consider SouthEast Europe to be.  They’re new, so I’m sure they’re still working out some of the kinks in their systems.

It looks like this could be a family affair.  Perusing the boardmembers, it seems as if there are a couple of pairs of last names which look like husband-wife teams.  Nothing like keeping it all in the family.

Membership seems to be affordable, so if you have an interest in this part of the world, consider joining.


what’s a fair immigration strategy?

Tuesday 27 January, 2009

I read with interest this article in the Chicago Tribune magazine by Tom Hundley Return Trip about Poles returning to Poland.  I spent 7 months in Poland at the same time as Hundley, as it was transitioning from communism to capitalism & have tried to keep up with what’s going on there since then.

Poles in America aren’t just fleeing Chicago.  I spent a number of years of my youth in the suburbs of Detroit.  There was what was then a fairly renowned, around Detroit at least, district full of immigrant Poles called Hamtramick.  My step-brother now tells me it’s been overrun by immigrants from other countries.

When I was working in Poland, I came across Poles who lived & worked for years in Chicago who never learned English & really integrated with the greater Chicago community beyond the Polish enclaves.  We used their man-hours at work.  Is that a positive contribution to Chicago?  There’s been talk of a labor shortage as the baby boom generation retires.  Will foreign immigrants fill those gaps?  Polish immigrant Piotr says, “We came to America for better jobs.” He’s seeking the American dream, but is that open to illegal immigrants too?  Is he taking jobs legal workers would take? Generations earlier, the present Polish equivalents were the Germans.  I wonder if the media lamented the stemming of that flow.

Americans didn’t used to need a visa to travel to Brazil, but that has changed in reaction to American policy.  When the US required visas for Brazilians traveling to America, Brazil reciprocated & made the same requirement of Americans & I can’t blame them.  When I travelled to Brazil a few years ago, it was an additional hassle I didn’t want to deal with, but had to.

A number of years ago, I spent 6 months in Stockholm, Sweden & almost found work there.  Technically, I was an illegal immigrant because I was there longer than the 3 months you are granted when you enter the country.  Had I found work, I’m sure getting working papers would have been little problem because Sweden is a small country & needs workers.  Coming to America, the security situation, & these economic times are a pretty different.  In some ways I’d love to return to work in Europe, but most governments there are very protective of local jobs.  That’s 1 part of the global economy that isn’t yet free, open & transparent-it’s simply not possible for workers to flow to wherever they like.  As far as I know, there is no visa reciprocity, so why should we let foreign immigrants work here if we don’t have the same reciprocal opportunities?

I don’t mean to be unsympathetic to immigrants who came here, built families & lives, & might have to return home.  They took a risk when they came here, fully well knowing they might not be able to stay.  Although America was built by immigrant workers, I think in many ways our immigration policy mirrors our labor policies.  We think nothing of throwing thousands of workers out on the streets & now treat immigrants the same way.


languages & families @ Mickey D’s

Monday 26 January, 2009

I came across this brief interview with Jose Armario, Pres. of McDonald’s in Canada & Latin America Coming full circle in fast-food world by Ann Terese Palmer in the Chicago Tribune.  From reading it, one gets the impression he’s a talkative guy.

He somewhat dismisses his Spanish-speaking ability as playing a role in his advancement, to which I naturally disagree.  He grew up in a very bilingual area, Miami, FL, so it seems as if he takes being bilingual for granted.  I seriously doubt he would have had any success in Spanish-speaking countries without speaking the language.

What the interview reemphasizes again & again is the interrelationship between work & family.  He left a great job to become a truck driver so that his wife could be near her family.  Supposedly making the sacrafices of moving his family to 3 different continents led to his advancement instead of his language ability.  Family is interwoven with the whole discussion.  That’s a very latin thing that I think many of us non-latinos are unaware.  For many of us, especially during my time in Germany, work is very separate from family.  Not in Latin America.  In Deutschland, they still addressed each other by last names & didn’t socialize with work colleagues.  It may have changed since I lived/worked there, but I doubt they are as closely linked as they are in Latin America.

Interestingly, it appears as if the school of hard knocks may be a better educator than schools with the regular 4 walls-his bio in the Trib doesn’t indicate that he graduated from college.  Although the article doesn’t mention it, McDonald’s corporate site indicates he did receive his master’s degree in professional management from the University of Miami.


dutch support the olympics

Tuesday 20 January, 2009

The Dutch-Chicago Business Exchange & Netherlands America Foundation hosted an event featuring Michael Murnane of Chicago 2016.  If you’ve seen many of these presentations to drum up local support for the movement, (which is an important variable in the International Olympic Committee(IOC)’s evaluation of all the competitive bids), there wasn’t much that was new.  but a few new nuggets.  The Chicago 2016 bid’s biggest obstacle is that Chicago is not well known to the IOC.  Many foreigners still think of Chicago as a flyover zone between the coasts, the city of Al Capone, or just a conglomeration of industrial smokestacks.  Chicago 2016 has grown to have 50 full-time staff in addition to 40-50 contributing on a pro bono basis.  They already count 10,000 volunteers, & if Chicago wins, we’ll need 4 times that.  The composition of the number of IOC voting members breaks down like so:
North America-(US & Canada)-4
Latin America-14
Asia Pacific-19
Western Europe-37
Eastern Europe-10
Middle East-8

Strengths of the bid are that Chicago represents 188 of 205 ancestries, 20 of which have 25,000+ residents represented by 10,000 ethnic organizations.  The bid book is due 12 Feb. & 4 IOC committee members led by a Moroccan woman will be in Chicago 2-8 April as the 1st stop on their tour of the candidate cities.  Register here can support the bid.

Q&A-Chicago 2016 does not have a ministry of sport like the administrations of other bidders, so it is 100% self-financed by donations.  The only expense to be incurred by the city will be for security, etc.  Their thinking is what’s implemented for 2016 has to make sense in 2017 as well.  Since their goals are:  1. win the bid  2. contribute to the Olympic movement 3. contribute to Chicago, that approach makes sense.  The Olympics cannot rehabilitate the CTA-there will be an overlay to the CTA during the games, but otherwise there is little Chicago 2016 can do to help.  Cricket, baseball, & softball may be demonstration sports for the 2016 Olympics, but those decisions won’t be made until the host city is chosen.  Building relationships with IOC members & the election & support of Barack Obama will help win votes.

I’ve already commented on what I think of Chicago’s bid a number of times.  Just search on this blog for those comments.


Mexican real estate

Monday 19 January, 2009

I attended this morning seminar  Real Estate Investing in Mexico/DIVERSIFICATION IN DIFFICULT TIMES: REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT IN MEXICO sponsored by the US-Mexico Chamber of Commerce & Business Network Chicago held @ Baker & McKenzie’s offices.

I found the most valuable presentation ridge-us-mex-chamber-of-commerce-01-14-093 to be given by Ray Kivett, EVP/CIO of Ridge Property Trust on commercial & industrial real estate opportunties.  Their focus is from the heartland of Mexico to the ports.  His most emphatic point was to find Mexican partners, such as lawyers & accountants,  to understand the business culture.  Insurance company AIG partnered with a friendly competitor which was a big change for them.  Another competitor of theirs tried to build a platform on a Mexican employee base but never became unified.  Ridge found partners on the border & in Monterrey, & is seeking a partner in Mexico City.  There is tons of growth beyond the macquiadoras.  Rockwell hired 1500 people in Monterry-700 were engineers.  He contends the bloom is off of the China rose.  Mexico is a good alternative which offers a stable government & banking system with declining interest rates.  Plus the goverment is dumping lots of dollars into infrastructure.

Bruce Greenburg made a good presentation usrecessioneffectsmexico0105091 on how the recession is affecting real estate in Mexico. I requested a copy of the presentation on managing foreign exchange risk, but have yet to receive it.  I offered to put up B&M’s presentation on Mexico’s legal framework, but haven’t heard back.  There were other presentations made on more residential opportunities in tourism, medical tourism, & for retirees, but didn’t request them since they were simply just commercials for their ventures anyway.

There are great opportunities to pick up some lovely real estate south of the border, but I think you still need to be wary.  I have colleagues who’ve tried to invest in real estate abroad, & real estate can be such a tangled mess even here, you need to be very well aware of all the legal entrapments wherever you go.  This is 1 area where hiring good local legal counsel is an absolute must.  Specifically in Mexico, there are restricted & unrestricted zones for residential & non-residential uses which require trust agreements with a Mexican bank, government approval & must be navigated.


the intersection of government & business

Friday 9 January, 2009

I caught this article by David Greising in the Chicago Tribune Obama administration has chance to redefine commerce secretary post Quotes from former Commerce Secretary Bill Daley add most of the meat of the story, but begs the question to me, “How much should government & business intersect?”  Bill Daley is 1 of the best examples of 1 who has bounced back & forth between business & government, which never ceases to amaze me, because I think success in each requires different sets of skills.  A turnaround artist friend of mine begs to differ by saying, “When you get high up in organizations, all your success depends on politics.”  Although he’s been dealt a very difficult hand, I’m surprised Hank Paulson hasn’t been viewed as being more successful.

Only in America would anyone refer to a cabinet level position as “U.S. industry’s chief salesman abroad.”  However, the Department of Commerce is the 1 department where government plays a role in looking out for the interests of business.  I haven’t seen the job description, but I agree with Daley that the position & department could use an overhaul.  I wonder how effective it could become if it were led by a dynamic visionary leader who could cut through the bureaucracy to deliver results for businesses rather than preserving their own turf as so many bureaucrats do.  When working @ the Canadian consulate, I tried to take a business approach & network on behalf of Canadian firms.  The response from Ottawa was not that we serve our client businesses, rather serve the bureaucrats in Ottawa.  Lots of other governments are much more aggressive in promoting their businesses, & to compete today, we need to do more of that too.

Regardless, Industry Canada is thought of as a valuable resource to many in Canada.  I don’t know of many parts of government that are thought of that way in the U.S.  Part of the reason for that is most all the rest of the world gets better people going into government.  The thought here is, if you’re good, go into business so you can earn more $.  The rest of the world isn’t as greedy as we are & incomes are nearly as dispersed as they are in the U.S. so there is something to be said for going for the money.

As 1 who’s worked in both government & business, although I increasingly realize politics crosses with economics more & more, government workers should refrain from telling owners how to run their businesses while business owners should elect leaders who look out for everybody’s interests instead of just their own.  Separate but equal works for me.