Where are the next billion computer users going to come from? China? Eastern Europe? Africa? Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is likely asking that question, as are many technology CEOs.

One company poised to help those next billion users is Lionbridge, which offers translation support, software testing, project management, and product certification services. It recently signed a three-year agreement to provide translation support to Microsoft and its partners to speed up the global release of Microsoft Dynamics AX, a multi-language, multicurrency enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution. I spoke with Henri Broekmate, senior vice president of Global Client Services at Lionbridge, about translation and Lionbridge's Web-based translation technology.

Reaching the next billion users, depending on where they're at, involves the use of at least 127 languages, Broekmate told me. If you consider that in China alone there are at least 14 Chinese language groups (e.g., Mandarin, Cantonese, Wu), and each might have as many as five or ten dialects that differ from region to region and even between cities, you can see how challenging it might be for technology companies to get their products in sync with local users and their languages, not to mention their differing customs, ways of business, and business statutes.  

When a client releases a new product or version, Lionbridge gathers teams of translators and local language and business experts to work on the translation project. Localization is another important task they undertake, ensuring a product meets a region's or country's regulatory and business needs and is launched and marketed effectively to users. When the job is done, the project team disperses, then regroups for new projects, aided by Lionbridge's translation memory technology, Logoport . Logoport is a Web-based linguistic tools platform developed by Lionbridge that allows secure collaboration between translators no matter their location. Currently more than 14,000 translators access the platform worldwide. Lionbridge also offers a free, Web-based translation management platform called Freeway.  

To learn more about Lionbridge's services and products, see http://lionbridge.com