Enterprise terminologists generally don’t have the easiest job—nobody understands what they are doing, most people don’t know that they exist, and some even refuse to cooperate. A widget may be just what they need.
A widget, really? While we can argue about the (code) name of the new SDL MultiTerm Widget, the concept behind it is a good one: It is a small application that anyone in a company can use to look up the meaning of a term. They just need to highlight the term, and the application displays a hit list, either from the company terminology database (MultiTerm, of course), a search engine or any website a user indicated in the app beforehand. A few different user scenarios for the Widget come to mind.
If I were still a corporate terminologist, I would put on a major campaign to introduce the Widget to any communication professional through a video, a brown bag meeting, or simply an e-mail. The main focus would be on how easy it is for lawyers, trainers, marketing and branding experts, etc. to use corporate terminology consistently. As non-terminology experts, these professionals cannot bother using a terminology-expert tool. They need information, and they need it fast.
Much to my chagrin, a link to LEO, a German-English online dictionary, was embedded in the German Microsoft intranet site. Now, there is nothing wrong with an online dictionary, but it was hard to turn people’s attention to the corporate database from this simple link. Since most terminology teams don’t have huge funds for tools development, the Widget could be that simple solution to steer employees away from unmanaged and to managed corporate terminology. If you put correct and standardized terms at their fingertips, they’ll use it.
Another scenario that came to mind when I saw the Widget the other day is visitors from subsidiaries. At J.D. Edwards, German consultants would come to the Denver headquarters fairly often to attend training session on the newer technologies. Their English was quite good, but they were not always familiar with every new term. They would ask us for glossaries to assist them during the training. If they had such a tool while they were working on a project in class, they could look up critical terms in the database.
Eventually, you would want the app to allow users to share terms that are not yet part of the database. We had an integrated terminology workflow with suggestion functionality at J.D. Edwards (see Perspectives on Localization) and later at Microsoft. Small terminologist teams at large companies need to stem a flood of unmanaged terms, and the closer they are to expert information, the better.
If the Widget doesn’t take off, it’s time for Michael W. to go join Kilgray and work on qTerm. But if SDL is smart, they price it for the masses and give enterprise terminology management a major boost.