The digital transformation of language

Last Updated April 10, 2018

When you plan on going global, one of the first things you have to think about is the language and culture of the target market. Business owners or top-level managers often assume that simple translations will do – what’s so difficult about finding a Polish–English translator to manage financial, legal or marketing content? Where’s the catch?

The hard, but also key part of translating your business into a global brand, is understanding the role of language and cultural background in the process of making purchase decisions. Being able to market a product or service in a foreign environment requires detailed strategies regarding language and culture. All sorts of content needs to be adapted and even changed in order to meet local standards and expectations. This is what we call localization, and that’s what you have to implement if you’re seeking the attention of a new audience. Managers often don’t realize that translating legal documents and creating a multilingual website or blog should be done by two different translators with distinctive sets of skills. And honestly, it’s not their job to know this. Their job is to understand the process of globalization for their company and to find the right language services provider.

Business owners or top and mid-level managers think about going global in a certain way, which mostly covers financial aspects. Of course, they also determine risk factors but they tend not to acknowledge cultural backgrounds as such. As a part of this process, we organize events like the LocWorld conference. We provide a platform where you can not only meet with potential language services providers but, most of all, learn and understand the whole process that goes on behind globalization. Localization experts that are a part of the LocWorld conference have set a goal to educate our end-clients about the importance of the right language strategy when going global.

Anna Pietruszka, Program Committee Member for LocWorld Warsaw 2018, a conference for international business, translation and localization management

 The language of business

It is hard to measure the value of good localization services, especially in a business world where everyone seems to communicate in English. Language industry leaders are now focusing on teaching business people the importance of the right translation and localization strategy. Hiring a professional translator to translate legal or financial documents is a step in the right direction, but it’s only the beginning of a long path to truly embracing the opportunities that language gives us.

Brands going global have a different set of needs when it comes to language services than a local company visiting international fairs or dealing with one-time foreign investment. A whole scope of language services is being constantly overlooked by business owners, just because they don’t know what language professionals have to offer: localization of websites, apps and software, transcreation of marketing texts or multilingual data analysis. “Simple” translation (if that even exists) enables a company to communicate within a global environment on a pretty basic level, but you really need to speak your partner’s language and be fully aware of cultural differences to become a successful company with global reach.

Call it language consulting or cultural coaching — going global means you need to see the bigger picture when it comes to managing multilingual content in your company. Just take a look at numbers: 42.5% of Europeans won’t buy a product or service that’s not described in their native language and 75% of all non-English speakers prefer to buy products with multilingual descriptions. When it comes to social media, locally engaging, multilingual profiles are growing 41% faster and register 50% higher engagement rate than their global counterparts.

Translating and localizing all of your company’s content — financial and legal documents, website, blogs, marketing collateral — will give you an invaluable edge in international markets.

The silicon revolution

There’s a constant need for innovation in business. Standing still simply won’t work. This is also the case in the language industry – the silicon revolution can’t be stopped.

Translators’ work has shifted direction in recent years, mainly due to the growing impact of technology. The human factor is still invaluable, but no language service provider can imagine its operations without translation software. Technology allows us to analyze enormous amounts of data in a very short period and that’s exactly what it does for translation industry.

Digital tools benefit not only translators but also clients. By creating Translation Memory – a type of digital dictionary with all necessary terminology – the process of translation is not only faster, but also cheaper. The tool also learns terminology and style patterns, so the final outcome is more accurate and coherent. What is more, this allows more than one translator to work on the project while ensuring cohesion and quality.

Nowadays, translators basically transfer their own memory into the software, so we can definitely say that technology has changed the way we work. It has also changed the services we can provide and its quality. We want to show our clients that we’re far past that point in time when translator’s work was manual – hence limited.

Anne-Marie Colliander-Lind, marketing manager for LocWorld

Language software changes how both language service providers and the end buyers handle the globalization process. It was designed to speed up and simplify the process of intercultural communication. It doesn’t replace the human translators, but widely extends their capacities: they can focus more on the “creative” part of translation, while the “boring” part is done by a machine. Localization professionals are aware of the common misconception about machine translation – it is poor quality. That’s why the LocWorld Conference in Warsaw will focus on the digital transformation of the language industry and the benefits for global business.

At the backstage

Those attending the LocWorld Conference in Warsaw will also get the chance to learn how to implement best practices in terms of localization project management.

To truly understand the work of localization project managers, you have to know that the translation and localization industry is highly fragmented. Most translators work freelance, and localization companies outsource projects to those freelancers. This way language service providers (LPSs) can assure a wider range of services and faster delivery times. A project manager’s job is to keep up with the complexity of the project and coordinate the whole process of translation, localization, proof-reading, DTP and many more.

Project managers create a bridge between the client’s requirements and expectations, and the translation company’s resources and capacities. They are the first people to be contacted both by the clients and translators. They are responsible for creating a project timeline, keeping to the deadlines, contacting different vendors and managing the workflow using computer-assisted translation tools. They are involved in the project at every stage – from the inquiry, through translation and DTP to quality assurance.

In localization companies, what we sell is also project management. Yes, each company can hire in-house translators or work directly with freelancers but with really big projects they would also need someone in-house to coordinate it. Localization project management is a full-time job that requires above-standard management skills. These people work with more than one team at the same time and keep the clients informed and satisfied. Our job during the LocWorld conference is also to educate our clients on how demanding this process is, and why they should rely on localization project managers more.

 Ulrich Henes, the founder of LocWorld

To assure best practices in the project management field, The Localization Institute, a co-organizer of LocWorld, offers a Localization PM Certification program, an approved provider for the Project Management Institute.

There’s a revolution going on behind one of the oldest industries in the world – the language industry. With AI-driven machine translation, blockchain around the corner, and a tech-savvy project management, localization and translation is what can really take your business to the most remote parts of the world.

To find out more about the LocWorld conference that takes place in Warsaw, 6–8 June, click here.

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