The recently published Spend Matters Compass Report, Supplier Information Management (SIM) Technology Fundamentals -- Part Two, offers a true insider's view -- in condensed Cliff Notes format -- into the nuances of successfully implementing supplier management systems and programs from the likes of providers such as Aravo, GXS/Rollstream, HICX, Hiperos, SAP, Oracle, Emptoris/IBM, Achilles and others. One of the subjects we examine in the paper is whether multilingual capabilities truly matter -- or not.
We think that multilingual capability is often overrated when it comes to SIM (especially from a supplier perspective). Our experience and research suggests that it is usually not important for the majority of SIM deployments. Still, in the case of global rollouts and for organizations desiring truly best-in-class capabilities -- for whatever reason -- multilingual support can be important. But these rollouts comprise only a minority in the field today. Relative to sourcing, P2P and other areas (especially when they are/will be used globally) pragmatic globalization of supplier management often involves more around the types of qualification questions and data that needs to be managed rather than simply localizing for language.
When it comes to how providers actually stack up today regarding multilingual capability, the majority of vendors have difficulty with either Asian characters (double-byte) or Arabic/ Hebrew right-to-left enablement. It is important to note that these can be important given transliteration challenges (especially in Arabic) with individuals, place names, etc. Still, we have observed that less than 10% of organizations evaluating SIM tools require these capabilities up front given targeted geographic deployment scopes. This may reflect an overreliance on English with suppliers, but the reality is that the internal language used by corporations operating in cross-border settings is almost always English, even in many companies headquartered in non-English countries.
Stay tuned as our investigation of this topic continues in Part 2. Or if you're curious to learn more in the meantime, you can download the entire report: Supplier Information Management (SIM) Technology Fundamentals -- Part Two.