Airline “partners” vs. Single vendor SW Suites

An airline connection nightmare can sometimes resemble what we got through when we try to assemble a software solution composed of multiple vendor products. In comparison, a single vendor product like Adobe’s Tech Comm Suite can feel like travelling non-stop in Business Class. Read on.

Nearly all of us have had an experience like this. You’re at the airport 2 hours ahead of time, and find out your flight is cancelled. And you have to be “there” by tonight. When my non-stop to Chicago with a famous airline was cancelled with no notice this morning, I was handed off to another airline, who could book me thorugh Chicago via a connection to their “partner” airline in LAX. Great!

If you need to connect from Terminal 4 to Terminal 6 in LAX, find the "secret door" near gate 65A in T4 to take the shuttle bus across the tarmac.

If you need to connect from Terminal 4 to Terminal 6 in LAX, find the “secret door” near gate 65A in T4 to take the shuttle bus across the tarmac.

The only problem was upon arrival in LAX, the first airline knew nothing about Terminal or gate location for the other flight. Airline ticket listed flight under Airline “A” name, but it was really an Airline “B” flight. Airline “B” flights are not listed on monitors in Terminal 4. Thus the fun begins.

Although these two airlines promote their “partnership” all the time, and frequently book connections to one another, there is no computer “bridge” between their product or services. The staff of both airlines are left clueless as to any flight details (other than departure) time for the other airline.

A phone call to Airline “B” finally revealed number of gate and terminal.

This brought to mind the number of times in my translation industry years that I had to work with two “partner” products developed by different companies. The products were seldom updated or released simultaneously. It often seemed that QA testing didn’t involve both products. Customer service for both SW companies frequently resorted to finger pointing. A bit like being stuck in an airline terminal trying to find the physical location of your connecting flight.

When I worked for translation agencies, I infrequently had influence over which product the client used. But whenever we had a project that used Tech Comm Suite for output to PDF, HTML and more, I breathed a sigh of relief, because there were no “connecting flights” in the process. Today, working for Adobe, I’m a bit spoiled having easy access to what I consider to be the best software in the world (I’ve tried nearly all of them, believe me.) But I still feel the pain for customers with “connecting flight” SW solutions that sometimes end up with unsynchronized releases, or illogical gaps in feature support.

Maybe someday, after many moons with Adobe, I might forget. But for now, like you’ve I’ve walked those endless corridors from terminal to terminal, trying to make it from gate to gate in less than an hour. As I sit in Business class about to depart on a non-stop, my feet throb when I see someone in those circumstances rushing through the glass jetways.

Whether you choose Adobe or a competitor, my earnest wish for you is that you can eventually achieve “non-stop” SW Suite solutions. Your feet will really appreciate it.