Technology is here to stay, and it is set to play an increasingly important role in the localization industry. This was one of the key themes that emerged during the conference sessions and meetings at LocWorld, one of the most popular events in the language industry. In mid-June, LocWorld brought language professionals and global businesses together to share ideas and experiences in beautiful Estoril, Portugal.
We had the chance to discuss some of the main challenges and trends in the localization industry with localization managers from bold international companies, and they often referred to technology as one of their main challenges as well as a source of opportunities.
We spoke with Asako Miyazaki, Senior Localization Manager at LinkedIn, the world’s widest online professional network, with more than 500 million users in more than 200 countries;
Hristina Racheva, Localization Manager at Skyscanner, the global travel search site, with 80 million monthly users around the world; Veronica Carioni, Senior Program Manager Localization at Vistaprint, the online provider of marketing products and services to small businesses worldwide; and Lone Kanstrup, Lead Language Consultant at Ørsted, the largest energy company in Denmark that is now focused on becoming fully dedicated to green energy.
Asako Miyazaki, Senior Localization Manager at LinkedIn
Here’s what they shared with us.
Why attend LocWorld? Networking as an asset
LinkedIn (Asako Miyazaki): We wanted to see what’s hot in our industry, and which new tools are available. It’s an important event for our industry, everyone comes here, so it is a great opportunity to exchange information and ideas with professionals from language service providers and other buyers.
Skyscanner (Hristina Racheva): In my opinion, the biggest advantage is being able to meet other companies, and see how they are facing their challenges, in the hopes of learning from them and finding solutions to our challenges.
Vistaprint (Veronica Carioni): I usually come to LocWorld mainly for the networking, it’s a good opportunity to meet people in the industry and exchange ideas.
Ørsted (Lone Kanstrup): We are here to learn more about globalization as we are on a globalization journey ourselves and we wanted to hear what people are struggling with, and learn about great things that people have come up with in terms of how they could manage the globalization process. I also gave a speech about helping employees embrace our company’s journey towards globalization.
Hristina Racheva, Localization Manager at Skyscanner
Main challenges: Technology, scaling up, the global-local dilemma
LinkedIn (Asako Miyazaki): Our company is growing quickly and one of our main concerns is scaling. We need to figure out how to scale, and how to restructure our organization. We have already been restructuring our in-house localization teams and allowing language managers to cover multiple roles, for instance collaborating with sales and marketing. The increasing use of tools such as machine translation would give our language managers more time to do different things such as engage with other departments and help to create better assets, therefore bringing more value to the company. We understand that some people are not ready for this step, however it is something that we are looking at with interest.
Also, as I underlined during my speech, online businesses who are operating globally need to deliver products and content that are relevant for local audiences. This involves many aspects, including the design of online platforms. In the strategic markets we are currently focusing on, such as Japan and China, we have created different landing pages. For Japan, the landing page is built around the concept “What LinkedIn can do for you”, with a specific and localized design and content, to help increase market penetration.
Skyscanner (Hristina Racheva): There are many, such as how to work better with the different teams, the internal stakeholders, and embedding localization as part of the product development stage. These are all areas that we are particularly interested in improving.
Vistaprint (Veronica Carioni): A major challenge is keeping up with technology. Another one is making data-driven decisions and using data. Traditionally, many of us come from a linguistic background and sometimes we struggle with numbers, but we are definitely enhancing our expertise.
Ørsted (Lone Kanstrup): As our company has been going through the process of entering global markets, we have had to figure out how to help our employees work in a global environment, and to ensure that we all speak the same language. We achieved this through language tools and technology, such as neural machine translation. We definitely need to stay on top of technology, since it plays a crucial role in optimizing our activities. Along with resources and time, this is our greatest challenge.
Veronica Carioni, Senior Program Manager Localization at Vistaprint
Main trends: Machine translation on top
LinkedIn (Asako Miyazaki): We heard some buzzwords like machine translation, global scaling, and innovation being repeated throughout the event.
We ourselves use machine translation but at the moment we are very selective on how and when to apply it. For Asian languages for instance it is not ideal, because many of them are low-resource. Anyway, we are here to explore new opportunities and see how we can make the best use of it.
Skyscanner (Hristina Racheva): We hear a lot about machine translation, it was also mentioned in many sessions here at LocWorld. I think it is interesting to understand how useful it is, and if it is already applicable or not. Another trend on the client’s side is creating internal localization teams and trying to find solutions internally. And then there is a lot of hype surrounding automation: the ultimate goal is to automate the project management processes as much as possible.
Vistaprint (Veronica Carioni): Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation are definitely among the key trends. The aim is to avoid any manual work that needs to be done. People can bring additional value by avoiding repetitive tasks and focus on something that is more meaningful.
Ørsted (Lone Kanstrup): In my opinion, the main trend now is machine translation. Even if it’s been available for a while, it continues to become more important. Integrating machine translation with other business tools is something that we have been looking at, so that it will have an impact not only on translations but also in improving communications in business development, IT, and so on. The “boring” aspects of translations will be mostly handled by neural machine translation, meaning that we can concentrate on the human touch, which I think is the most important.
Lone Kanstrup, Lead Language Consultant at Ørsted
Finally, let’s have a look at the takeaways that Inge Boonen, Acolad Southern Europe’s business development director, and Barbora Skopcova, business development manager, brought home from LocWorld.
A personalized digital experience
Barbora Skopcova: Along with the impact of technology, a hot topic at LocWorld was the personalization of the user digital experience, through personalized and targeted content (ABM, Account Based Marketing). This is made possible by a strong use of data, as discussed during the conference held by Ciena, a networking systems, services and software company. A company’s digital presence is crucial in helping them reach their business objectives, and as every user is different, a good degree of personalization of the content that they consume is a key to success.
Another example of the success of personalized content is the case that Shopify presented at LocWorld. After sales, customer service content is often underestimated in the whole user experience journey. The multi-channel commerce platform showed how they helped merchants operating in global markets to implement a multilingual customer support library that is progressively localized to fit the different markets’ local language needs.
From translation agencies to tech companies
Inge Boonen: Language service providers must behave like technology companies. Obviously, you might say. Well, it is not yet obvious to everyone. While in the past, many companies specialized in multilingual project management, the focus now needs to be on technology. This must be applied in all areas within a company and guarantee full integration with customers’ systems.
The subject of the day and night was no big surprise: neural machine translation. During several conversations and sessions this notion came up and it is surely one of the most complex issues in the translation world at the moment.
But my final takeaway and the one that I find most important for me, my team and Acolad is that we should not just sell to our customers and meet them once in a while for business review meetings. Instead, we must want to spend time with them and build a true, genuine relationship. We’ve always tried to do this, but I can never say it often enough.
Keep an eye out for more news from us, we will be back soon!
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