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Fostering a contribution culture against a backdrop of secrecy

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Expert Digital Marketing Solutions
BASF Coatings GmbH
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Drupal Director
CTI Digital
Experience level
20 minutes
2.07 aurum
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What do you do when your company has invested 12 months of resources into a ground-breaking digital transformation, only to discover a huge issue that could compromise the viability of the entire project?

BASF are pioneers in their industry, more than 50% of global annual car production has at least one layer of BASF paint. We also invested over 1.8 million Euros into Research and Development in 2017 to create chemical solutions for a sustainable future.

The issue we faced with our digital partner, CTI Digital, centred around a huge flaw in the mass translation capabilities of Drupal. Initial development revealed no quarms, but when the project began to scale detrimental issues became apparent. Despite several attempts by the team to develop efficient ways to patch the problem, there was a growing client perception that Drupal’s core translation capabilities is fatally flawed. We recognised that for global brands this could prevent the adoption of Drupal 8 altogether. Therefore for the community to resolve these sorts of fatal issues, the pressure is on and the stakes are high.

In this session we’ll be discussing the digital transformation of BASF’s training initiative and the roadblocks we faced during its internationalisation. Most importantly, the focus will be on how we drew upon the Drupal community for advice and fostered an open source mindset in an industry which, for the past 150 years, has been heavily invested in patents, copyright and securing trade secrets. This was not only a transformation within Drupal, but a total transformation of a company attitude.

Session Topics:

  • The importance of, and challenges behind, internationalisation with Drupal
  • How we approached the issue and discovered the digital solution
  • The ultimate innovation and transformation of BASFs platform and of the Drupal core
  • The strength and vigor of the Drupal community
  • Q&A

BASF embarked on a digital initiative that would see a historic offline process digitised so reach and customer experience can be improved exponentially. We planned to roll out the initiative to 52 territories, but Drupal’s existing translation capabilities were costly and inefficient.

The Business Transformation:

We looked to transform a laborious face-to-face training process and digitise the whole operation (much more than just a linear offline-to-online process where we could have simply digitised our training documentation). We identified Drupal as the ideal platform to transform the entire process into an online Learning Management System; with Drupal we were assured a secure and user-friendly result. With the use of intelligent modules, content managers are able to upload and edit interactive and engaging web pages, all designed to help users access and learn from the documentation through videos, photos, text, downloads and more.

The Problem:

When using three or more languages in Drupal, every string of code responsible for a website feature requires individual translation, regardless of function. With a vast quantity of content, which requires regular updates and maintenance, we would have to translate thousands of strings of JavaScript and admin processes, as well as customer-facing code, one by one into all 52 supported languages. This was because the software had no way of differentiating between types of code, so required everything to be translated.

The journey to the solution:

After much discussion with our digital partner, CTI Digital, we highlighted a number of ways to work around the issue. CTI were well-established in the community and sought counsel from the Drupal 8 Multilingual Initiative Lead and the OCTO at Acquia, Gábor Hojtsy. A slack message later, Gabor was on the phone. As it turns out, this had been an issue he already had theorised a solution for and had wanted to solve for a while. But he had neither the resources or time to do so. And so began a perfect example of open collaboration between global corporation, Drupal agency, and the community.

The Solution

The solution was beautifully simple. We were able to implement a way for developers to tag strings of code with their type, allowing managers to quickly highlight only the customer facing content that required translation. Thanks to the adaptable nature of Drupal, and the perseverance of the team, we were able to fix the issue for ourselves and for everyone going forwards.

‘Sharing is Better’

Together we were able to take this fix, apply it to our new digital solution, and we are now set to release it to Open Source within the next few months. As a company that invests heavily in the patentisation of our chemical solutions, we are accustomed to retaining IP and Copyright tightly. Yet, through this development, we’ve seen great benefits in the Open Source mentality: if we had not shared our problem with Gabor, we may never have found a fix, and if Gabor was not able to share with the community he may have never developed the theory foundation for our issue.  

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