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.
This was first published in October 2006