Getting to Know Welocalize Development

Interview with Doug Knoll, VP of Software Development at Welocalize

iStock_000037772022_MediumIn our continuation of Getting to Know Welocalize, we want to introduce you to Doug Knoll,  Vice President of Software Development at Welocalize. Doug worked at Welocalize from 2001 to 2009 as Director of Global Solutions and recently returned at the beginning of the year to take up his new post. Innovation is one of Welocalize’s key pillars, which underpin everything that the company does. Driving the software development for a global localization provider like Welocalize is no small task. Louise Law spent some time talking with Doug to learn more about his new global organization and some of the key development activities taking place at Welocalize. In Doug’s words, “I’m looking at the whole breadth of what we want technology to do for us.

Where are you and your team based?

I am primarily based at the Welocalize office in Portland, Oregon, although I have traveled so much over the past few months! I have 40 full-time team members, which is supplemented by contract resources based globally  in the US, China, Europe and India. We have talent and skills all over the world. We are focused on software development for all of Welocalize platforms, tools and applications and we drive the overall research and development strategy at Welocalize.

You are pretty busy developing a new software development strategy for Welocalize, can you tell me a bit more about some of your key initiatives?

I am excited to be introducing some new concepts and technologies to Welocalize. We are increasing our responsiveness and agility by updating our continuous integration and development processes. We are also looking at our existing architecture and investigating new ways we can use it to meet future demands and requirements. One of the coolest projects we are working on is developing predictive analytics using machine learning.

What’s machine learning?

Machine learning explores algorithms that can learn from and make predictions on data. Any global language service provider collects and processes huge amounts of data and we can use this data to help project managers make decisions. For example, we have developed a model that looks at all the characteristics of a task and assigns it a risk score, something like a credit score. Tasks with a high-risk score have an elevated chance of being delivered late, or having quality compromised. The score is calculated when the task begins, so we have the chance to alert the PM responsible and allow them to take action in time to address the situation. Applying predictive algorithms to help us see ahead is key to our development strategy and can be applied used across the whole organization, not just for the PMs. We are also using in assessing our entire talent pool.

What are some of the other development initiatives?

Overall, the team is looking at the whole breadth of what we want technology to do for us. It is our job to provide the optimum service delivery software platform for the Welocalize business. We do this by continually assessing projects and identifying the gaps and areas for improvement. The Development teams have to deliver a unified architecture and a consistent backbone for service delivery by using our existing software technologies, like GlobalSight, and also introducing new tools and emerging techniques.

To use our data intelligently, we have to ensure that it is clean, consistent, and centralized, while still supporting the unique workflows and business requirements that each client brings. Striking that balance in our designs is an interesting challenge.

Being able to predict what is coming down the line is a pretty radical shift in the way we do things in our industry. This new approach will set the bar higher in terms of delivery, velocity, responsiveness and agility for our client-facing teams and ultimately our clients.

What are some of the things that happen to you in a typical day?

Right now I’m splitting my time evenly between the strategy and the team. Software developers spend all day making decisions that everyone has to live with for the next ten years or more. It’s critical that we build an environment here that attracts great people, and gives them the support to do their best work.

One piece of that puzzle is to use technologies that people are excited about, and give developers some latitude to experiment. Being able to do that while still pulling in the same direction means having very clear strategy and spending a lot of time communicating it. Right now, we’re working to support the growth that Welocalize as a whole is experiencing and that means the team is growing too. I am investing a lot of time into the recruiting process as we add key leaders.

What are the current disruptive technologies in the localization industry?

It has to be machine translation (MT) and post-edited MT going prime-time. MT has been around for many years; however, now it is really finding a place in the translation process. We continue to see MT and PEMT playing a key role in active projects.

iStock_000059066980_MediumIf you had a crystal ball, what do you think the technology landscape of localization will look like in five years?

We will see a radical improvement in velocity of translator output, levels of 10,000 words per day. This will be because they are working in a tool-assisted environment, which will give them powerful capability and the ability to perform to very high levels.


The Getting to Know Welocalize blog series highlights our team members around the globe and the work they do for our valued clients.  In their words, it gives you a look into how Welocalize’s diversity, culture, and expertise empower us in doing things differently. You can view all here Getting to Know Welocalize posts here:

Getting to Know Welocalize CEO Smith Yewell

Getting to Know Welocalize in Germany – Day in the Life of Antje Hecker, Production Business Director at Welocalize in Germany

Getting to Know Welocalize and Agostini Associati – Day in the Life of Guido Panini, Sales and Marketing Manager at Agostini Associati, a Welocalize Company

Getting to Know Welocalize Quality and Training -A Day in the Life of Liz Thomas, Senior Director of Quality and Training at Welocalize

Getting to Know Welocalize in the United Kingdom – A Day in the Life of Joanna Hasan, Enterprise Program Manager

Getting to Know Welocalize Marketing

Getting to Know Welocalize Business Development Europe – A Day in the Life of Steve Maule, Welocalize Business Development Director in Europe

Getting to Know Welocalize Interns by Louise Donkor, Welocalize Global Marketing and Sales Support

Getting to Know Welocalize Business Development in North America – A Day in the Life of Monique Nguyen

Getting to Know Welocalize in China –An Interview with Alex Matusescu, Director of Operations

Getting to Know Welocalize in Japan -Interview with Kohta Shibayama, Senior Project Manager in Tokyo

Getting to Know Welocalize Development -Interview with Doug Knoll, VP of Software Development at Welocalize

Getting to Know Park IP Translations Operations – A Day in the Life of Nicole Sheehan, Regional Director of Operations at Park IP Translations, a Welocalize Company

Getting to Know Park IP Translations

Getting to Know Welocalize – Ten Interesting Facts You May NOT Know About Welocalize

Getting to Know Welocalize Staffing – A Day in the Life of Brecht Buchheister