Tell us a little about Acrolinx?Andrew: Things really began as a research project for the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI). As a group of computational linguists, we were tasked with building a prototype engine that could analyze language and the actual content creation process. Our project triggered interest from a SAP and its research institute. So we originally began to build a solution specific to them.
Eventually, this working solution became the foundation for what Acrolinx would build in the future. Early on, we worked with SDL on a project for Bosch automotive in which we developed a multilingual terminology solution that used our technology. Our solution has a very natural intersection to the work SDL does, and we have continued to work closely together.
What products, services and expertise does Acrolinx offer its customers?
Andrew: Our goal is to provide content creation teams with two things: guidance and governance. Guidance is about helping content creators by providing live feedback while they are writing. This includes everything from email, to simple word processing, structured content, form-based content… Our solution ensures that their content meets the standards their organization has set out in terms of brand, tone, technical precision, findability…
Governance comes in by providing a scoring mechanism that actually scores content to determine when it has reached an acceptable standard. Scoring provides organizations the means to not only track the progress of content but to also run analytics on the content and determine its readiness. It also is about setting the standard for branding, tone, terminology – any language standards that influence the quality of content.
Are there any trends you see emerging?
Andrew: We increasingly see organizations focus on the data on which content the customer is consuming and this now includes content that used to be thought of addressing customers ‘post sale’. Because today’s consumer often undergoes rigorous research before purchase, this content is now actually part of the pre sales purchase process. As a result, we see a lot of organizations beginning to think of all content they create as part of the customer experience.
The challenge is that the old siloes exist – the org charts still separate support content, product content, marketing content and technical content. In a way this is part of the challenge. Part of the reason our business has been so busy lately is simply because our customers increasingly understand this and understand the need to set standards that support the entire customer journey.
There is also a heightened understanding about the importance of the quality of content and not just quantity. Outside of just efficiencies and cost savings, companies acknowledge that content has a direct impact on click-through, conversion and top-of-funnel lead generation. Being ‘good at content’ is now a competitive advantage.
One of the most exciting areas for us right now is the shift away from rules and towards the more nuanced use of conversational language in content. This is also part of being ‘good at content’: speaking how your customers speak instead of using only corporate formal language. Acrolinx is capable of guiding content in terms of a conversational voice and not just “right or wrong" rules. It’s exciting to see this develop.
How does Acrolinx address this?
Andrew: One of the great advantages of Acrolinx is that customers can get value out of it from day one. It gives brands control and depth about how their brand is projected. Brands we work with make detailed decisions about the tone, voice, brand, compliance and findability. Acrolinx then monitors whether or not content is optimized for the goals they’ve set.
A fundamental mentality change has taken place where companies don’t want to rely on spreadsheets sent back and forth, but want to monitor content using automation. What Acrolinx also provides is a way of governing content providing monitoring and reporting, as well as supporting the content teams to create great content in the first place.
As a partner, how do you work with SDL?
Andrew: As a technology partner, we have a great parity with SDL’s content focus and think that they offer a strong value proposition in terms of both language and content management. Our solution can work side by side with the SDL solutions in support of content quality as well as preparation of content for localization.
SDL has always had a very good understanding of the needs of its customers for its structured content and web content management platforms. Acrolinx and SDL share an understanding of the broader technology in their ecosystems.
Since SDLs perspective has always been that of global content, they’ve always had a ‘big picture’ view of content beyond a single language. At Acrolinx we’ve also always had a multilingual perspective to what we do
Our joint value proposition is that while SDL provides a framework for single-sourced content and publishing to be used in multiple platform and languages, Acrolinx ensures the actual quality of content within that infrastructure.
NetApp, a mutual customer of SDL and Acrolinx says,
"Structured authoring with Acrolinx at NetApp has reinforced a certain discipline in the content creation process including updating our terminology database with new product, solution, and feature names, creating terminology usage flags, and also supporting content developers with recognized writing guidelines. Working in Acrolinx has helped to align content creators and editors across teams and departments in a common effort to create globalization-ready content from the start." Monika Aeschbacher, NetApp