Posts Tagged ‘Localization’

Internationalization

March 16, 2009

Today I presented with Sam Soubra at the Victoria.Net Dev SIG on software internationalization.  Internationalization has two distinct aspects – globalization and localization.  Globalization is the process of developing software whose features and code design are not solely based on a single language or locale; and localization is the process of adapting software for a specific region or language.  We drew on our experiences working at QSR International where we developed our software for both globalization and localization (English, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, and Spanish). The presentation can be viewed below:

QSR International is an independent software vendor (ISV) based in Melbourne (Australia) and derives 90% of its revenue from exports.  This appeared to be in contrast to many Australian companies that I read in the local news who are currently focused on outsourcing their IT overseas.  Therefore, I thought I would look into finding some information to see where Australia is positioned in developing software for the global marketplace.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, exports of non-customised software (including licence fees) in 2006-07 were $347 million (0.16%) of Australia’s $215,850 million in total exports.  This is a very small figure when compared against Australia’s $65,045 million (30.13%) in exports by the mining industry.  At the same time, imports of non-customised software (including licence fees)  in 2006-07 were $1,220 million (0.54%) of Australia’s $227,883 million in total imports.

In 2007, the World Bank listed the population of Australia as 21 million (0.32%) of the world’s population of 6,612 million.  Combining these population figures with the earlier figures, Australia imported $58.10 of non-customised software (including licence fees) for every Australian, yet Australia exported $0.05 of non-customised software (including licence fees) and $9.87 of mining goods to every non-Australian globally.  This would imply that Australia is a net consumer of non-customised software and is not a significant global player.

However, last year the Economist Intelligence Unit reported on global IT industry competitiveness and found that Australia was ranked 7th globally, behind the United States, Taiwan, United Kingdom, Sweden, Denmark, and Canada.  The rankings were based on six categories, which are listed below with Australia’s associated global rank:

  • Overall business environment – #7
  • IT infrastructure – #8
  • Human capital – #6
  • Legal environment – #2
  • R&D environment – #20
  • Support for IT industry development – #6

This poses the question – why do we have an IT industry that is considered to be globally competitive, but fails to leverage the global marketplace for software?  It is a lot cheaper and easier to produce another copy of software than it is to produce another ounce of gold.  Why does a single American company export more software into Australia than Australia can export to the entire world?  Looking at these rankings, it is evident that Australia is least competitive in its R&D environment.  Incredibly, the Rudd Government closed the Commercial Ready program in its May 2008 budget, which was a major innovation program provided by the Federal Government of Australia.  Additionally, the Australian Bureau of Statistics had to cancel its planned 2008-09 ICT industries survey due to budgetary constraints imposed in May 2008.  This does not bode well for Australia being the so called “Clever Country” as originally coined by Bob Hawke in the early 1990’s.

Nevertheless, I encourage software developers in Australia to have a more globally focused perspective.  With a greater emphasis on Research and Development (innovation) and increased entrepreneurship, we can greatly improve these national statistics.  There are great examples of Australian developers taking their software globally.  For instance, we recently changed our design software at QSR International to Enterprise Architect which is developed in Creswick (Australia) and exported worldwide.

To finish, I quote Barak Obama from the first presidential debate in 2008

We can’t just focus on preserving existing industries. We have to be in the business of encouraging new ones–and that means science, research and technology. For two centuries, America led the world in innovation. But this Administration’s hostility to science has taken a toll. At a time when technology is shaping our future, we devote a smaller and smaller share of our national resources to Research and Development. I’ll double federal funding for basic research, and make the R&D tax credit permanent.