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Language capabilities for using Microsoft CRM with international offices

Read advice from Richard Smith, SearchCRM.com's using Microsoft CRM expert, on language functionality for Microsoft CRM, including information on developing a business platform with multiple languages in this expert tip.

What are your predictions for Microsoft CRM's multilingual capabilities in the future? Do you think Microsoft will continue to require a separate server per language? Our international customer base is growing rapidly, and though we are happy with Microsoft CRM, I'm concerned that this server requirement may hinder our future possibilities.
My company has a number of customers with international offices, and supporting multiple languages is important to them. I think all of us are hoping for the eventual development of an accurate, fast, "universal translator" that would enable customers and employees to communicate and access data in their native languages. Unfortunately, that functionality is still several years away.

Before implementing a business platform with multiple languages, organizations need to consider the impact on their business. For example, just because Dynamics CRM can support multiple languages internally does not make it possible for users in the U.S. to easily understand sales opportunities or service cases in German, Spanish, or other languages. Most multinational organizations with worldwide business systems pick a subset of languages that will be supported in the internal systems, which facilitate the sharing of customer data across geographies and languages.

All this being said, it does not seem out of the question that, as Dynamics CRM continues to mature, it would be possible to support multiple languages on one common set of hardware. However, the size of the business that might have such a requirement is such that segmented hardware might be preferred with regard to both performance and server administration.

More important to most international customers is the need to support a customer facing portal in a variety of languages. Microsoft does not yet provide a customer portal framework for Dynamics CRM. It seems reasonable and likely, however, to expect some level of further integration with Sharepoint Portal Server for providing this functionality down the road.

Even when a customer portal is available, there are still issues that will need to be addressed by multinational businesses. Organizations will typically select a few languages in their primary territories that they will support. This is because any customer-facing materials, from press releases and Web content to product documentation, service requests, and knowledgebases will likely need to be translated into each supported language. This level of translation is often costly for midmarket customers, but is not out of the realm of possibility for international organizations in this sector. We are watching Microsoft's portal strategy closely for further developments on this front.

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