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The Impact of Globalization: Translators in Demand

In 2005, the White House Conference on Aging discussed the barriers to communication for a growing population of “Limited English Proficient (LEP)” adults. Not surprisingly, the creation of, funding for, and distribution of translated information was a predominant theme. To its credit, the WHCOA site now provides up to date information in eight languages (MT-powered.) Despite some progress in the U.S. over the past decade in areas such as prescription drug labels, quality is still a major issue, particularly in the medical and legal industries.
The U.S. is certainly not the only nation facing language barriers that have economic, health, and legal ramifications. Our interview with Karl Lonnroth demonstrated the enormity of work in progress within the European Union to deliver multilingualism as a fundamental right. In 2006, China discussed a lack of translators as a “major obstacle to China’s economic development.” In late 2007, the Daily News Analysis India ran an article that bemoans the lack of translators as well as infrastructure as major barriers to the availability of Indian literature.
Certainly an over-simplification, but…

Solution? More translation services. Problem? Lack of translators.

Demand exists, tracked monthly by TranslatorsCafe.com (also an excellent site for knowledge sharing and information on job opportunities.) Here’s a good start for our “Resources” contribution, with links to opportunities for certification, under and post-graduate degrees, grants, and research endeavors. Expecting the inevitable “you are missing this site, link, etc.,” we invite comments and additions for the list. We’ll republish updates as appropriate.

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Collaboration Yields Knowledge: Two Opportunities to Share Experiences

Globalization is a strategy rather than a project. Global customer experience is a mindset, not a deliverable. In turn, supporting these objectives requires complimentary strategic initiatives driven by subject matter experts that utilize a range of rapidly evolving processes and technologies in innovative ways.
Based on our community discussions, organizations that focus on combining the practices of localization design, content management, and translation management achieve results. And that focus in no way equates to a series of siloed application implementations.
We believe there is no better way to demonstrate this truth than by encouraging collaboration and promoting success stories. Agree? Here’s two opportunities to do so, in the form of a Call for Papers for synergistic events:


Gilbane San Francisco: June 17 – 19, 2008
Localization World Berlin: June 9-11, 2008

Collaboration yields knowledge. Sharing experiences spurs innovation for all organizations. Here’s your chance to contribute — our experience shows that it’s well worth the effort.

When is a Wiki a Whiteboard?

A: When its a huddle.
Q: When is a huddle an environment for multilingual communication?
A: When a huddlee can dynamically change the user interface to work in her native language.
Q: Why is this interesting?
A: Because we’ve yet to see a concentrated focus on globalization requirements in the social computing and collaboration space. In fact, we’ve been wondering where is the “L” is in Web 2.0?
Q: What if you don’t speak German?
A: The company that built and manages the huddle concept (Ninian Solutions Ltd) provides a French user interface as well and according to our interview with the company, Spanish, Chinese, and Japanese will follow.
Q: So how will content created by huddlers get translated?
A: Machine translation may very well prove its use within a Web 2.0 environment. Stay tuned.
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Quality at the Source: Gilbane Boston Session Summary

The Globalization Track’s “Quality at the Source: Creating Global Customer Experience” provided advice from those in the trenches striving to do just that: bake in quality from the “get-go.” From Gilbane’s perspective, delivering customer experience is one thing; delivering global customer experience is quite another.

Our presenters understood this perspective from a “been there, doing that” frame of mind. Mary and I would like to thank Dee Stribling, Project Manager at SAS, Lori Kegel, Manager Technical Communications at Boston Scientific, and Richard Sikes, Senior Consultant & Advisor at The Localization Institute for demonstrating that global customer experience is not yet another industry phrase designed to bolster new marketing campaigns. Putting the global in customer experience is a necessity, critical for those with multinational revenue profiles, and presents tangible challenges for organizations to view the content lifecycle from a totally different perspective.

When perspective morphs to reality, organizations often unearth champions with a range of specialties that define the pillars for “going global.” Consider the following quotes from our presenters that epitomize some of the success factors for globalization in organizations that clearly get it:

  • On terminology management: “Words are the building blocks of an organization’s conceptual framework. The quality of terminology directly relates to an organization’s presence in the global community – words are an essential corporate asset!” Dee Stribling, SAS.
  • On source inconsistencies: “The whip cracks loudest at the farthest end. Follow the creative process back along the whip to minimize fluctuations at the source.” Richard Sikes, Localization Institute.
  • On globalization issues within an M&A environment: “The overall end goal is the same for both business units. There are nuances specific to each business unit based on their internal goals and objectives (portfolios are different and cultures are different). These differences are largely due to where in the translation, memory management, and content management processes a business unit is functioning; one can be at the infancy stage and one can be much further in the growth within these processes.” Lori Kegel, Boston Scientific.

Many thanks to our panel for sending the message that a satisfying customer experience happens only when communication is clear, consistent, error-free, and in the customer’s native language.

The Global Content Lifecycle: Increasing the Quality Quotient

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How are you handling the inevitable increase in the volume of source and translated content in your organization?
Scaling translation, maintaining quality. It’s difficult, but achieveable. The recording from our webinar with Sajan is here. Food for thought.

Quality and the Global Content Lifecycle

Got quality?
Join Mary, Shannon Zimmerman from Sajan, and myself on Wednesday October 24th for a discussion of quality in the Global Information Age, in which mere information availability no longer suffices. Today’s customer expectations demand relevant information that is culturally acceptable, appealing, and most important, understood. Delivering contextual, multilingual information – communications that make sense in the customer’s language of choice – is fundamental.
Any company with a multinational revenue profile knows that fusing quality and translation is a significant part of the formula for success in a global economy. In and of itself however, the act of translation provides no “certificate of excellence” or “seal of approval” for its quality quotient. So, the obvious question is: What is quality translation and how will organizations know when they achieve it? What is a quality quotient?
Join the discussion as we offer our take on improving, maintaining, and measuring the quality quotient of information products for the Global Information Age. Register here.

Poll of the Week: Got Process Bottlenecks?

We have not heard of an organization that doesn’t.
Content management and translation management each have their own set of process bottlenecks. Put them together and what do you get? An endless migraine, a major headache, a dull pain, and for the very few, a nuisance. Here’s some of the phrases we hear when we talk to our clients about the content and translation lifecycle:
“Undesired repetition and unpredictable outcomes.”
“A cost we don’t really have a handle on.”
“We’d have to survey each workgroup to figure it out.”
“Redundant, cumbersome, and expensive.”
Hence, the poll of the week. We’re gearing up for the Global Content Management track at Gilbane Boston, November 27-29. Our goal is to spend more time discussing the elimination of process bottlenecks rather than bemoaning their existence.
Help us shape the list for our sessions and discussions in Boston by taking our poll of the week. Got process bottlenecks? We want to know about them.

Results: Growth in Language Translations Poll

The results to our poll on the Growth in Language Translations are in. Take a look:
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A couple of data points jump right out:
— There is clearly a significant decline in those who are currently translating to only 1-3 languages when we look at plans for 2008/2010.
— In terms of changes from 2007 to 2008, the increase in language translations appears to be moving up from 3 languages maximum to 10 languages maximum. That’s more than doubling “translation capacity” over a relatively short period of time.
Adding to some of the stats in Mary’s blog on Emerging Markets: The Brass Ring?, economists agree that a revolution in the global economy is well underway. Donald Hepburn, corporate economist for Unilever, notes that “companies that do not understand the economics of developing nations will miss out,” and predicts a major shift in consumer consumption by 2010. The Economist concurs, noting that the shift is not just about China and India. And a Goldman Sachs study takes it a step further, predicting that by 2040, the world’s ten biggest economies will include Brazil, Russia, India and China, aka BRIC.
Begs the question, how are companies preparing for the increase in demand for translated content and localized user interfaces? Mary and I are on vacation next week, July 30 through August 4, but we’ll have more commentary when we return. Happy summer!